Mikel Arteta says Arsenal are working on "two or three different scenarios" in terms of transfer plans before next season.

With football leagues largely suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, FIFA has announced it will allow transfer window dates to be changed in case domestic seasons have to be completed later than planned this year.

As leagues and clubs face financial uncertainty amid the COVID-19 crisis, many have predicted the next window will see a departure from the inflated transfer fees that had become the norm in recent years.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already stated his club must be ready to make the most of an opportunity to snap up targets that might suddenly become available.

Arteta has likewise been preparing different plans for the next window, admitting it is impossible to be certain how the market will play out.

Speaking to Sky Sports, the Gunners head coach said: "I'm planning two or three different scenarios that we can face. Depending on one of those three, we will be able to do more, less or nothing.

"We have to react daily. We don't know what the financial situation is going to be, we don't know the rules, the timing, the window. There are so many things we cannot control at the moment."

Arsenal suffered a shock Europa League exit to Olympiacos in February but had otherwise been showing encouraging signs of improvement under Arteta before the season was paused.

The Gunners won just one of eight matches in December, the month Arteta took over from Unai Emery, but have won eight and drawn four of 13 games in all competitions in 2020.

Arteta was pleased with his side's progress after needing to repair the rapport between players and fans after he arrived.

"I went through a lot when I got here ... I had eight or 10 players injured, and there were a lot of issues to deal with," he said. "The connection between fans, players and club was in a difficult state at that moment. We had to change that energy, the belief and the commitment from the players.

"I was very pleased because everyone was on board with what we were doing. We started to win three or four games in a row and there was a much more positive mindset around the place."

Arteta was one of the first high-profile figures in English sport to test positive for coronavirus, which prompted a scheduled match against Manchester City to be cancelled, but now feels fully recovered.

"Either mine wasn't a very strong virus or my immune system was pretty good," Arteta said. "The same day that we were told that we were at risk because we were in contact with the Olympiacos owner [Evangelos Marinakis] was the exact day when I started to show some symptoms.

"I felt a huge responsibility as I knew the next day we were playing Manchester City. I had a feeling inside of myself that something was wrong. We had to make the point and make it clear. We spoke to the Premier League about bringing the case forward as we knew we could expose ourselves to people.

"I pulled the doctor and the CEO to my house telling them that we had a situation due to my symptoms. We had players that had been in contact, so we said the decision was too big for us alone to make. We had to communicate this with the Premier League and Manchester City in order to protect everybody. We made the right call."

Manchester United have activated the one-year extension in the contract of Timothy Fosu-Mensah.

The defender's deal had been due to expire at the end of the 2019-20 season.

However, Stats Perform understands the option to extend the player's terms by a further 12 months was exercised back in January.

Fosu-Mensah has not played a senior competitive game for United since the 2-0 Premier League win over Crystal Palace at Old Trafford in May 2017, at the end of Jose Mourinho's first season in charge.

The 22-year-old has spent the past two seasons on loan at Palace and Fulham, but he has been sidelined since having surgery on a knee ligament injury last April.

Fosu-Mensah is the latest United player to see his contract extended beyond the end of this season.

The Red Devils triggered a two-year extension to Eric Bailly's deal in January and entered into talks with Nemanja Matic last month over new longer terms after activating an option for an additional year on the midfielder's contract.

Tahith Chong signed a new two-year deal in March, leaving Angel Gomes as the only member of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first-team squad whose deal runs out at the end of this season without an option to extend.

Fosu-Mensah, who joined from Ajax in 2014, has made 21 appearances for United in all competitions.

Manchester United have donated medical equipment, food and gifts to local medical centres, with Alex Ferguson leading the praise of the NHS and the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Premier League club's foundation have delivered protective equipment, other medical supplies and over 3,500 United gifts to staff at NHS Foundation Trusts in Salford and Manchester.

United also said they would be willing to allow the NHS to use Old Trafford's facilities and 16 vehicles belonging to their foundation, while 30,000 items of food and drink stored at the stadium have been sent to food banks, hospitals and charities.

Former United manager Alex Ferguson, who had emergency surgery after suffering a brain haemorrhage two years ago, expressed his appreciation for the health service.

"I'm delighted we are now recognising the importance of our NHS - as I experienced two years ago after they saved my life," Ferguson said on United's official website.

"The response to this pandemic has been magnificent and has made me proud of the way the club and the British people have rallied round to help. Well done."

Those words were echoed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, one of Ferguson's successors and the current incumbent of the United job.

"The NHS staff and the volunteers fighting the virus are putting themselves at risk to keep everybody safe and doing a truly amazing job," Solskjaer added.

"They deserve thanks and praise from everybody for their work and their efforts every single day."

On Wednesday, Premier League players announced the creation of a fund to help health services, with United captain Harry Maguire coordinating the effort from Solskjaer's squad.

"On behalf of all the players, our thoughts are with all those that have been affected by this terrible virus," the England international said.

"It has been heart-warming to see the nation come together to show their appreciation to the NHS and other critical workers."

Could Lionel Messi swap Barcelona for Inter?

Messi has been linked to Inter since ex-president Massimo Moratti said the six-time Ballon d'Or winner joining the Serie A club was not a "forbidden dream".

The 32-year-old's future at Camp Nou has made headlines throughout the 2019-20 season.

 

TOP STORY – INTER WANT MESSI

Inter are seriously working on trying to sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to TNT Sports.

Former Inter president Massimo Moratti said the Nerazzurri luring Messi – contracted until 2021 – to San Siro was not impossible and speculation has intensified since those comments.

TNT Sports says Inter are ready to push through negotiations for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, while boyhood club Newell's Old Boys have also made an offer.

 

ROUND-UP

- AS Diario claims Manchester United and Juventus are both chasing Real Madrid outcast James Rodriguez. Napoli and Everton have also been linked to the Colombia international.

Philippe Coutinho is close to returning to the Premier League. Sport reports the former Liverpool star is nearing a loan switch to Chelsea from Barcelona. The Brazilian has spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern Munich.

Milan are interested in signing in-demand Brescia star Sandro Tonali, according to Calciomercato. The Italian has been linked to the likes of Juve, Inter and United.

- Juve star Paulo Dybala is set to sign a new contract with the Serie A champions, says Calciomercato. Meanwhile, the same outlet reports that Juve are interested in Roma midfielder Bryan Cristante.

- Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is chasing Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, says AS Diario. The Frenchman wants to sign the 17-year-old if Madrid are unable to lure Paul Pogba from United.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are among the clubs battling for Achraf Hakimi. The Moroccan full-back has spent the past two seasons on loan at Borussia Dortmund from Madrid. Juve, Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain are also reportedly interested.

Matt Hancock, the United Kingdom's health secretary, has praised Premier League players for their "big-hearted decision" to set up the #PlayersTogether fund amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Stars from England's top flight have announced the creation of a charity fund to help health services in the UK fight against COVID-19.

Players including Liverpool and Manchester United captains Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire confirmed the plans in a social media statement.

Hancock last week urged elite footballers in England to play their part and doubled down on his comments in an interview at the weekend.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Wayne Rooney, Gary Neville and Gary Lineker have been among the high-profile figures stating it is unfair for footballers to be singled out during the debate over salary reductions amid the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

And Hancock was swift to acknowledge the gesture after it was confirmed on Wednesday.

He wrote on social media: "Warmly welcome this big-hearted decision from so many Premier League footballers to create #PlayersTogether to support NHS Charities. You are playing your part."

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford explained the players were eager to make sure money made its way to the frontline as the world struggles against the proliferation of the virus.

"For us, we want to help in the best way possible and getting money to the right places is a massive thing," he said to BT Sport.

"It took a lot of time, a lot of conversations between the players and we came to a decision that this was the best way to do it. The club have supported that, so everyone is happy.

"You can get some backlash if you try to help but don't do it in the best way possible, so we wanted to take our time with the decision, and we did that."

Lineker had previously questioned why other successful members of society were not coming under the same scrutiny as footballers.

And he wrote on Twitter: "Footballers are doing their bit as I was confident they would.

"Let's hope that others that are in a position to help, those that weren't unfairly targeted, do likewise. Proud of our players."

Premier League stars have announced the creation of a charity fund to help health services in the United Kingdom during the coronavirus pandemic.

Players including Liverpool and Manchester United captains Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire confirmed the plans in a social media statement on Tuesday.

The announcement comes after UK health secretary Matt Hancock had urged the highest-paid footballers in the country to "play their part" in helping key services during the COVID-19 crisis.

Those comments attracted criticism from some in the sport, including United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who said it was unfair to paint players as an easy target while discussions about contributions to health services and charities were ongoing.

The statement said: "Over the course of the last week we, as a group of Premier League players, have held numerous talks together with the vision of creating a contribution fund that can be used to distribute money to where it's needed most in this COVID-19 crisis; helping those fighting for us on the NHS frontline as well as other key areas of need. This is a critical time for our country and for our NHS, and we are determined to help in any way that we can.

"We can confirm that after extensive conversations between a huge number of players from all Premier League clubs we have created our own collective player initiative, #PlayersTogether, and have partnered with NHS Charities Together (NHSCT) in order to assist them in generating and distributing funds quickly and efficiently to where they are needed most.

"NHSCT is the national umbrella organisation for over 150 registered charities, working closely with the Charity Commission, Department of Health and Social Care, and NHS England to represent, champion, and support the NHS' official charities. NHSCT are the official charity partner of the NHS nationally.

"The contributions that this initiative will generate will help NHSCT quickly grant funds to the front line to support in a number of ways, including to help enhance the well-being of NHS staff, volunteers and patients impacted by COVID-19 as well as helping them in their work supporting many other critical areas of need both now and in the longer term.

"#PlayersTogether is about we, as players, collaborating together to create a voluntary initiative, separate to any other club and league conversations, that can help get much needed funds to those that need it right now. To try and help, along with so many others in the country, make a real difference.

"Our prayers and thoughts go out to everybody affected by this crisis. By sticking together, we will get through this."

Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes joked he is the new Juan Sebastian Veron after sporting a goatee while isolating during the coronavirus pandemic.

While a number of players have shaved their heads due to social distancing policies during the coronavirus pandemic making it tricky to get a professional trim, Fernandes has only taken the razor to his facial hair.

United team-mate Diogo Dalot teased him by tweeting that he now looked like a character in Netflix drama Narcos.

However, Fernandes believes his new look shared greater similarities with a former United player.

"We've found the new Juan Sebastian Veron! But the hair, the hair needs to stay," he told MUTV.

Fernandes has quickly become a key figure since arriving at United from Sporting CP in January in a deal worth £67.6million (€80m).

The Portugal international is yet to taste defeat in his nine appearances for the club and has contributed three goals and four assists.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's backing has been important to him since he arrived at Old Trafford, but he says he would have been ready to give "200 per cent" to force himself into the manager's plans in different circumstances.

"For me, the most important was obviously the confidence of the coach. I need to know I am backed from the coach, because sometimes when you change club, not every time the coach wants you," said Fernandes.

"Not like I need to come because the coach wants me to play, no, not like this, but I want to feel the confidence from the coach: 'You come, you are a choice for me and you come. I need you, I want you.'

"It's not like you come and I ask, 'But I will play?' No, this for me is not the point. For me, the point is the confidence he has in me. If he has confidence in me, then the rest is working."

He continued: "I feel the confidence from the club and I feel also the confidence from the coach, Ole, and also if maybe the choice was not from the coach, I come.

"I come and I will show to the coach I can play, I can be a choice for him, because sometimes you need to press yourself to be better and give more.

"Maybe if I come and I am not the choice for the coach, I will know I need to give not 100 per cent, 200 per cent, because the coach needs to see, he needs to see me, he needs to understand that I need to play, I want to play more than the others.

"In your mind, you want to play more than the others, but the others are thinking the same way with you.

"This is the confidence we need to have to keep improving, to keep training more and the healthy battles you need in the team. You are competing with someone, this one, this one and this one.

"You need to give more than him and he will be thinking the same way with me and then, if you're thinking the same way, you can be much better. Me and him.

"It doesn't matter who plays, you will train better, I will train better and so the team will be better."

The resumption of football in Europe's top five leagues still appears some way off due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving players with plenty of time to analyse their performances this season.

Using Opta data, we have already examined some of the worst attacking, passing, defending and goalkeeping numbers from 2019-20, but who has been letting the side down with shoddy discipline.

We have analysed five metrics for players now operating under the increasing scrutiny of VAR across the elite divisions.

These include the worst offenders in terms of fouls conceded, penalties conceded, offsides, yellow cards and red cards.

Check out our list of shame below, which is not the who's who of hotheads you might expect, while a lack of minutes on the field does not necessarily mean a player cannot irritate the officials.

THE WORST FOUL STATS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

BUNDESLIGA:

Most fouls conceded: Robert Andrich (52) 
Most penalties conceded: Dedryck Boyata (3)
Most offsides: Timo Werner (35)
Most yellow cards: Klaus Gjasula (12)
Most red cards: Leon Bailey (2)

LALIGA:

Most fouls conceded: Jaime Mata (67)
Most penalties conceded: Ruben Duarte (4)
Most offsides: Alvaro Morata (28)
Most yellow cards: Gerard Pique (12)
Most red cards: Facundo Roncaglia, Zouhair Feddal, Clement Lenglet (all 2)

LIGUE 1:

Most fouls conceded: Andy Delort (69)
Most penalties conceded: Mathieu Debuchy (3)
Most offsides: Victor Osimhen (33)
Most yellow cards: Nicolas Pallois (10)
Most red cards: Ruben Aguilar, Racine Coly, Steven Moreira, Boubakary Soumare, Marcal, Anthony Briancon, Jacques-Alaixys Romao (all 2)

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Most fouls conceded: Etienne Capoue (47)
Most penalties conceded: David Luiz (3)
Most offsides: Chris Wood (31)
Most yellow cards: Jorginho (10)
Most red cards: Christian Kabasele (2)

SERIE A:

Most fouls conceded: Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (52)
Most penalties conceded: Koray Gunter (3)
Most offsides: Cristiano Ronaldo, Rodrigo Palacio (both 21)
Most yellow cards: Ismael Bennacer (12)
Most red cards: Bremer, Federico Marchetti, Pawel Dawidowicz, Armando Izzo, Davide Calabria (all 2)

AND THE TOP FIVE:

Most fouls conceded: Andy Delort (69)
Most penalties conceded: Ruben Duarte (4)
Most offsides: Timo Werner (35)
Most yellow cards: Ismael Bennacer (12 in 1,620 minutes played)
Most red cards: Federico Marchetti (2 despite not playing a single minute of Lazio's Serie A season!)

Jose Mourinho has acknowledged he was in breach of the UK government's COVID-19 guidelines when he conducted training exercises with Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele on Tuesday.

The Spurs boss was pictured on Hadley Common in north London putting the club's record signing through his paces, with the images soon shared across social media.

Government regulations designed to combat the spread of coronavirus state people should only exercise with members of their own household.

"I accept that my actions were not in line with government protocol and we must only have contact with members of our own household," Mourinho said.

"It is vital we all play our part and follow government advice in order to support our heroes in the NHS and save lives."

Stats Perform understands Mourinho sought to respect social distancing instructions by remaining a minimum of two metres apart from Ndombele, although the fact the France international – a player the former Chelsea and Manchester United boss has publicly criticised – is from a different household makes this point somewhat moot.

Spurs have been doing regular work with their players online during the Premier League's hiatus, sharing videos of those sessions via their social channels.

Last month, Mourinho volunteered to help Age UK and Love Your Door Step prepare food parcels and other essentials for elderly people living in self-isolation due to the coronavirus crisis.

Sadio Mane would "understand" if the 2019-20 season was scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic, even though Liverpool are just two wins away from claiming the title.

The Reds have been champions-in-waiting for some time, having taken 79 points from 29 games to open up a 25-point lead over Manchester City.

Yet the Premier League, like the vast majority of competitions across the world, has been halted due to restrictions designed to limit the spread of COVID-19.

It remains to be seen when, or even if, the Premier League will return as the hiatus has extended past the beginning of May already.

However, Mane insists there are bigger concerns given over 83,000 people have died after contracting coronavirus worldwide.

Asked if he felt like a champion already, Mane told talkSPORT: "I think not yet. I love my job and I love football, I want to win on the pitch.

"I want to win the games and I want to get the trophy, it's what I would love.

"But with this situation, whatever happens I will understand.

"It has been difficult for Liverpool, but it has been more difficult for many millions of people around the world. Some people have lost family members and that is the more complicated situation.

"But for myself, it's my dream and I want to win it this year.

"If that's not the case, I will accept. It's part of life. Hopefully we will win it next year."

Some - such as Manchester United's Luke Shaw - have suggested the Premier League should be voided if the season cannot resume.

However, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said earlier this week he sees "no way" in which Liverpool could be denied the title.

The Reds have not won a top-flight championship since 1989-90, prior to the inception of the Premier League.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been linked with a stunning return to Real Madrid, but it seems that is just about impossible.

The Juventus star only left the Santiago Bernabeu in 2018, yet recent reports linked him with a Madrid return.

However, it appears that is unlikely.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID RETURN FOR RONALDO RULED OUT

Real Madrid are not thinking about bringing Ronaldo back, according to both Marca and Sport.

It has been reported that Juve would consider selling Ronaldo for €60million, which is €40m less than what they paid in July 2018.

Ronaldo had scored 25 goals in 32 games this season before it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ROUND-UP

- Neymar continues to be linked with a return to Barcelona. Sport reports Paris Saint-Germain would be willing to accept payment in instalments from Barcelona, something that proved to be an issue last close season.

- Paul Pogba looks set to leave Manchester United for either Juventus or Real Madrid. AS reports the France midfielder will prioritise an offer from the LaLiga giants.

- On loan at PSG from Inter, Mauro Icardi's future is uncertain. Sport reports PSG have decided they will use their purchase option of €70m to land the forward permanently.

- It seems Barcelona know what they want for Philippe Coutinho. The LaLiga giants have set their price for the attacker, who is on loan at Bayern Munich, at €90m, according to Sport.

- David Silva will leave Manchester City at the end of the season and where he ends up remains to be seen. CalcioMercato reports AC Milan met the playmaker's agents over a possible move.

- It is shaping as a busy close season at Barcelona. Sport reports PSG left-back Layvin Kurzawa, out of contract at campaign's end, wants a move to Barcelona. Meanwhile, AS reports Barca are also eyeing Real Madrid's 19-year-old midfielder Cesar Gelabert.

Liverpool star Sadio Mane revealed Jurgen Klopp said he was "like a rapper" as he turned down the chance to sign the attacker while at Borussia Dortmund.

Klopp opted against signing Mane during his time at Dortmund, where he was coach from 2008 to 2015, a decision he later said was a mistake.

Mane felt the Liverpool manager had made an error, joking about how Klopp had perceived him at the time.

"He said I was like a rapper!" Mane told The Guardian.

"But I think I gave my best so what can I say? That's part of life – you never know how you are going to get along with people. But I think he was wrong for sure.

"It was an experience for me as well though. I knew I had to show him more until we met again."

Together at Liverpool, Mane has developed into one of the world's best attackers under Klopp.

Mane praised the German for his belief in his players, highlighting Liverpool's incredible comeback win over Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals last season.

"What makes him special is that he never stops believing," Mane said.

"In the meeting before the game he was really convinced that we could do it, even though we were missing two of the best players in the world [Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino].

"He pushed the boys hard to give everything possible and tried to take the pressure off us."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin sees "no way" in which Liverpool could be denied the Premier League title this season despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Liverpool were 25 points clear atop the table when the campaign was suspended due to coronavirus last month.

It remains unclear when, and if, the season will resume, but Ceferin said Jurgen Klopp's men were almost certain to be champions, giving the club their first top-flight title since 1990.

"I see no way to keep Liverpool untitled," he told Slovenian sports daily Ekipa.

"If it is played, then they will almost certainly win it – theoretically they have not reached the guaranteed level, but it is practically close.

"However, if it could not be played, it would also be necessary to announce the results in some way … and then the champions should be determined. And of course again I don't see a scenario that would not be Liverpool.

"I understand that fans will be disappointed if it happens in an empty stadium or even at a green table, but I believe they will win the title in one way or another."

However, Ceferin insisted the plan was still for leagues around the world to be completed.

"I just spoke hypothetically," he said. "We are also preparing for such scenarios, but we are not dealing with the details for now.

"At this point, we are fully committed to completing the competition."

The Premier League will follow Belgium's Pro League and cancel the rest of its season, according to Udinese sporting director Pierpaolo Marino.

With Liverpool 25 points clear atop the table, the Premier League was suspended last month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Many leagues around the world have been brought to a standstill, with Belgium set to cancel the rest of their campaign and award the title to leaders Club Brugge.

Marino, whose club are owned by Giampaolo Pozzo – the father of Watford owner Gino, believes England will do likewise.

"The Belgian federation has sanctioned the end of the championship, despite the threat of UEFA sanctions," he told Sportitalia on Tuesday.

"England is about to issue the same measure because the situation is becoming very serious. I speak of the Premier League."

Marino added: "We have to get away from this danger, no matter the weather. I'm worried about the coming seasons, not the old one."

More than 81,800 people have died from coronavirus worldwide, while there have been more than 1.4 million cases.

In the United Kingdom, more than 6,100 people have died from coronavirus.

Tottenham great Jimmy Greaves has been taken to hospital, the Premier League club have confirmed.

Spurs issued a statement late on Tuesday to confirm the 80-year-old has been admitted and that they are in contact with his family.

"We can confirm that our record goalscorer Jimmy Greaves is currently being treated in hospital," the club said.

"We are in touch with his family and will provide further updates in due course.

"Everybody at the club sends their best wishes to Jimmy and his family."

Greaves scored a record 266 goals for Spurs between 1961 and 1970 and netted 44 times in 57 appearances for England.

His total of 357 goals in England's top flight is the highest figure in the competition's history.

Greaves suffered a stroke in 2015 that left him severely disabled, although his son Danny insisted in February that he remained "in good spirits".

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