MAN UTD chiefs are preparing for the return of the Premier League, with the players now back in training.
And Raul Jimenez's dad has commented on interest from the club, while Jadon Sancho reportedly expects his move to Old Trafford to be completed in the summer.
Follow live Man Utd updates and transfer gossip below…
OLE IN ONE
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he would rather have “a hole in his squad than an a**ehole”.
Solskjaer said: “I’d rather have a hole in the squad than an a**ehole. Personality is so important. We’re a team in a team environment.
“You want players to have a bit of ego and edge but they have to be able to adapt.
“In March 2019, players were physically tired, mentally tired and we had injuries. The players started with negative thinking, whereas now it’s positive thinking.
“There were other things I didn’t like last year, some personal agendas which couldn’t be sorted out until the summer.
“There will always be players who want to play more in football, but if a team is to be successful then players have to be available at different times.
“I feel in this group we don’t have one bad apple.”
EXCLUSIVE BY DUNCAN WRIGHT
Real Madrid and neighbours Atletico are the latest big Spanish club to make it known they are willing to sell some of their stars.
That is sure to put Premier League giants including Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal on red alert.
SunSport revealed this week how Barcelona have effectively invited offers for all but three of their players as they desperately look to plug a hole in their finances.
Now it has emerged that LaLiga rivals Real and Atleti are also in the market to offload players as the cost of the Covid-19 crisis begins to bite.
The top clubs in the Premier League have all been made aware that the two clubs in the Spanish capital are open to do business for the majority of their players.
Real are still trying to pursue a plan to find the resources to sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain, but to do that they would need to bring in a huge amount of funds.
Gareth Bale is one of those they would be happy to move on to get his £650,000-a-week wages off their books, but others are also available.
But the problem for the Spanish giants is the value of players is likely to drop markedly when football resumes, and they may not get the kind of fees they would hope.
EXCLUSIVE BY DUNCAN WRIGHT
THE Premier League's big return to training has been hampered – by sticky balls.
All 20 top flight clubs have now resumed work in strictly controlled sessions as part of Project Restart aiming to complete the season.
But the coating of disinfectant being smeared on all the balls has reacted in the scorching temperatures across the country, causing the surface to become tacky.
Some players have complained they are now running slowly on the already dry grass in the few ball drills they are able to enjoy in Phase One of the training programme.
SunSport has learnt how just two days into the new regime stars are claiming they are “pointless” and “ludicrous”.
They claim the sessions are not fit for purpose to help them build up match fitness ahead of the planned return to action next month.
Raul Jimenez's dad admits he's delighted the Wolves star is being linked with top sides including Man Utd and Juventus.
He said: “Raul has always said it's something very cool (to hear of the interest).
“He's very happy at his club, hopefully getting into positions for Champions League and Europa League at the moment. Always for him, all of that will be very gratifying, very cool to hear those comments.
“Right now is the time of rumours, God willing the league hopefully resumes next month and that's where we are right now.
“The rest, there is nothing. He's only commented on what he sees that they publish, but nothing at the moment.
“Later, if there is something different, we will see. But now, yes, they are mere speculation and rumours.”
Man Utd are considering a surprise move for Alassane Plea.
The Standard claims the Borussia Monchengladbach star could be heading to Old Trafford this summer after impressing in Germany.
United could be willing to pay as much as £25m for the French forward.
The government has announced a “renewal taskforce” to help sport return – with ex-England footballer Alex Scott on board.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden wants advice on “how to get sport back safely in a way that works for both clubs, players and supporters alike”.
And amid gradual easing of the Covid-19 lockdown, he said the government are looking for “new and different ways to get industries back up and running”.
Dowden added: “Finding creative, crowd-free ways to navigate coronavirus is the biggest challenge for our recreation and leisure sectors right now”.
But he confirmed the government are looking at a gradual process, rather than a sudden return, and insisted that safety concerns will remain the priority.
WINDS OF WINTER
Arsene Wenger has called for the January transfer window to be axed as out-of-favour players “give up”.
The Arsenal legend who is now FIFA's head of global development, has suggested changes to the game in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
The Frenchman said: “I am for the abolition of the January transfer window
“Managers don't deal with this second window well.
“In October, as soon as a player does not play anymore, he tries to find a solution elsewhere and waits for January to leave,
“He is no longer mobilised, he gives up.”
HAVING A LAUGH
SunSport can exclusively reveal Kai Havertz is a target for Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool.
The Bayer Leverkusen ace has been sensational this season.
But the Premier League trio also have to content with interest from Bayern Munich.
Leverkusen could also be looking for a major fee after valuing Havertz at £100million before the start of the coronavirus crisis.
Andre Gray has hit out at Paul Pogba critics as he says no-one can get near the Manchester United star on the pitch.
Speaking to Threesixtytv, the Hornets ace said: “People talk about [Paul] Pogba and it annoys me.
“Whenever I’ve played against Pogba, four or five times now, no-one can get near him.
“He might not set the world on fire and score top-corner goals. But you cannot get near the kid – he’s always somewhere you’re not and you can’t fathom it.
“Until you’re on the pitch with him, you’ll never understand. From the stands it’s like ‘oh, he’s turned him’. When you play the game and understand the midfield positions, you cannot fathom him.”
ON THE PAUL
Paulo Dybalais reportedly set to extend his stay at Juventus until 2025 to deal Manchester United a major blow in their pursuit of the player.
The 26-year-old was close to joining the Red Devils last summer, only for the Old Lady to pull the plug, with the ex-Palermo ace since becoming a key player under Maurizio Sarri.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic bringing a halt to the football calendar, Dybala had chipped in with 13 goals and 12 assists in 34 games in all competitions
Such has been his impressive form, Juve's sporting director Fabio Paratici told Sky Sport Italia of the club's intentions to keep hold of the forward.
He said: “We're working to extend Paulo Dybala's contract.
“We want him as part of Juventus for many years.”
Man Utd players arrived for training for the first time in over two months after getting the all-clear from their coronavirus tests.
Red Devils stars last worked out at their Carrington complex on March 13 but are now back to business following a vote from Premier League clubs to approve a formal return to the training ground.
The agreement to move to “Stage One” of the training protocols will see all 20 top-flight squads beginning basic work from today.
United captain Harry Maguire was among the first arrivals at Carrington on Wednesday morning alongside Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic.
Academy prospects Angel Gomes, Mason Greenwood and Tahith Chong were also pictured after the club ordered the players to arrive at staggered times throughout the day to undergo sessions in small groups.
The likes of Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo then arrived in the afternoon alongside a masked Sergio Romero.
Bruno Fernandes stunned Manchester United staff with his new-found pace while Jesse Lingard and Dan James record the quickest sprint speeds during lockdown.
The Old Trafford new-boy, 25, is not known for his lightning speed, using his skill and guile over raw pace on the pitch.
But Fernandes left staff gobsmacked as he ranked amongst the top sprinters during lockdown.
United's players were tracked using GPS devices during the enforced break, with Fernandes up there with the quickest.
During home training sessions, Man Utd stars were monitored on such things as distance covered and top speed.
And Fernandes clocked an impressive 21.3mph in his best effort not far off eventual winner James on 22.9mph.
Axel Tuanzebe, Lingard and Under-18s captain Teden Mengi finished just behind James.
Ivan Rakitic headed out for a family bike ride after putting Europe's top clubs on red alert by hinting at a Barcelona exit this summer.
The Catalan giants are prepared to cash in on the Croatian veteran this summer to raise funds of their own.
The 32-year-old has just one year remaining on his deal at the Nou Camp.
His availability is set to spark a transfer scramble with clubs across Europe including Juventus, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid set to pursue a deal.
Rakitic has also attracted attention from Premier League giants Manchester United and Tottenham.
The Red Devils attempted to land Rakitic in January but the move was blocked because his wife Raquel wanted to remain in Barcelona.
And the happy couple looked more than content in Spain as they embarked on a family bike ride with their two daughters and their golden retriever, with the midfielder also hopping on an electric scooter.
Manchester United and Chelsea were urged to make a move for Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho by Owen Hargreaves.
The formerUnited and Bayern Munich midfielder believes the Brazilian would be a welcome addition back to the Premier League.
Speaking on BT Sport, the 39-year-old said: “I love his game, I love him as a player.
“He is obviously going though a bit of a tough time after leaving Liverpool.
“Barca didn’t work and Bayern hasn’t really worked, but there is still plenty of time and I would never count him out.
“I would love to see him back in the Premier League. He makes a lot of teams better.
“Premier League teams are probably the only ones with the capacity to sign him and, let’s be honest, when he was here he was a dream to watch.”
Man Utdare reportedly lining up a swoop for Borussia Monchengladbach star Alassane Plea.
The Standard claims Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made contact with the French forward’s representatives over a stunning move to Old Trafford this summer.
Plea, 27, joined Gladbach from Nice for around £20m in 2018 and has gone on to score 24 goals in 64 matches.
The Frenchman’s latest strike came in Saturday’s 3-1 win at Eintracht Frankfurt.
And it’s reckoned Plea is available for just £25m when the transfer window opens.
ON THE BALLO
Man Utd have “identified” Monaco left-back Fode Ballo-Toure as a potential summer transfer target.
The 23-year-old only joined the Ligue 1 club for £10m from Lille back in January 2019 and made 21 appearances this campaign until it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Now France Under-21 international’s displays have caught the eye of Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to The Times.
They claim Old Trafford scouts believe Ballo-Toure would provide perfect competition for Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams.
It also states United are on the lookout for cut-price deals once the window re-opens amid the financial uncertainty over the Covid-19 outbreak.
However, they could be tempted to swoop for the Monaco defender, who is under contract until 2023.
Ballo-Toure began his career at Paris Saint-Germain before joining Lille in 2017, and it was an impressive two-year stint there in the French top-flight that persuaded the Principality to swoop for his services.
RON WITH THE WIND
Nani claims Cristiano Ronaldo talked openly of leaving Manchester United for Real Madrid before his world-record switch, claiming he’d “had enough.”
Ronnie swapped Old Trafford for the Bernabeu in 2009, netting the Red Devils £80million.
But Nani, who was Ronaldo’s housemate in Manchester, claims his compatriot made no secret of his desire to quit United during his final Premier League season.
He told the UTD Podcast: “Some days he [Ronaldo] was telling us openly, ‘I’m here six or seven years now, I think it’s enough for me’.
“But it was always, ‘I will see, I will see’, but we never though it [Real Madrid move] would happen so fast.
“After we won the league in the second year he left, he produced a great season so we were still surprised.”
Jadon Sancho remains likely to leave Borussia Dortmund this summer with Manchester United at the front of the queue, according to reports.
The 20-year-old has persistently been linked with a move away from Signal Iduna Park this season – but the financial effect of the coronavirus has changed the financial dynamics of every club in Europe.
Ed Woodward himself last month warned of the changes that fans would see in the transfer market this summer.
But according to The Athletic, the Red Devils are still in contact with Borussia Dortmund and a deal remains likely.
Speaking on the Ornstein & Chapman Podcast, the former said: “Sancho was expecting to move this summer and there’s still a very high chance that will happen.
“There’s an understanding between Sancho and Borussia Dortmund that if the right price arrives that he can go and there’s no expectation that Dortmund wouldn’t honour that, they’re said to be very honourable in these sort of situations.
“They’re looking for no less than €120million [£107m], some say to me no less than €130m [£116m] and that certainly the figure that they want is around what they received or agreed for Ousmane Dembele.”
Uefa chief Aleksander Ceferin is “absolutely sure” fans will be back in stadiums “very soon” despite fears football faces 12 months of being played behind-closed-doors.
When asked why he felt the disease would not impact football in the long-run, Ceferin told The Guardian: “It's a serious situation but it is going down now and we are being more cautious.
“We know more about the virus and in general I'm an optimistic person.
“I don't like this apocalyptic view that we have to wait for the second and third waves or even a fifth wave … people you know are likely to die one day, but do we have to be worried today? I don't think so.
“We are ready and we will follow the recommendations of the authorities but I'm absolutely sure, personally, that good old football with fans will come back very soon.”
'BE A BIT KINDER'
Ex-Manchester United star Luke Chadwick has accepted apologies from Gary Lineker and Nick Hancock for cruel jibes about his looks.
The ex-footballer recently admitted gags about his appearance on BBC's They Think It's All Over killed his confidence.
It came at the time he was trying to make his mark at Premier League giants Manchester United.
Chadwick's revelations led to host of the hit 1990s show Hancock and team captain Lineker issuing apologies for their behaviour.
Former Spurs and England star Lineker responded on Twitter, saying: “I was part of that show, therefore, I too would like to apologise to @luke_FFF for any hurt caused.”
And Hancock told BBC Breakfast: “Listening to Luke is incredibly humbling.
“He's shown so much more generosity and understanding and good judgement than we did at the time. I’m appalled for him and at myself.”
WHO WILL LAND HIM?
PSG are reportedly considering a bid for Manchester United target Erling Haaland while worrying over Kylian Mbappe's future.
Real Madrid continue to be strongly linked with the French striker, whose contract expires in 2022.
Talks are said to have struggled so far amid talk of a potential release clause and a £600,000-a-week wage – that would match Neymar's salary in Paris.
But alternative plans are being made, according to Marca, in the form of Borussia Dortmund star Haaland.
Real Madrid and Manchester United appear to be the frontrunners for the Norwegian's signature, the Red Devils having come close to signing him in January.
With 13 goals in 12 games for the Bundesliga club, any doubts over his talents have evaporated and he notched yet again on German football's return from a two-month shutdown against Schalke 04 on Saturday.
Marcus Rashfordadmits he has struggled to cope with the attention of being a Manchester United star.
In an ATP Tour chat with two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, Rashford confessed: “I can’t say I’ve ever really enjoyed the attention off the pitch.
“That’s one thing growing up as a footballer that you never think about.
“You always think about playing in the first team and scoring goals for United or at Old Trafford or any stadium. But you forget how your life can change overnight.
“Things that you can do with your friends, things that you can do with your family, the places you can go, it all changes.
“And I probably wasn’t as prepared for that bit as I was the actual going on the pitch and playing.
“For me that bit was the easier bit. It obviously took a lot of hard work to get there but when the opportunity came up I felt ready to step up.”
KOUL ON ME
Man Utd are reportedly back in for Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to strengthen his defence at the end of the season.
The Red Devils are known to be long-term admirers of the 28-year-old who has established himself as one of the best centre-backs in Serie A after joining from Genk in 2014.
It had been claimed that Liverpool were in pole position to sign the Senegal international with Jurgen Klopp looking to partner him with Virgil van Dijk.
And Newcastle have also been linked with a shock move for the player should their controversial Saudi takeover be completed.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport via the Daily Express, United have reignited their interested in Koulibaly after learning of the Reds' intent to bring him to Anfield.
They state that United made an £89million bid for the defender last year, and are ready to make new offer for him at the end of the campaign.
SANCH A LOT
Man Utd may get Jadon Sancho in a bargain deal due to the coronavirus pandemic crippling transfer fees.
The England winger, 20, was valued in excess of £100m by the German giants – but his valuation could be cut due to the ongoing health crisis.
As reported by Football London, a senior figure at Borussia Dortmund has acknowledged that “expectations of high fees will go down”.
Head of sales, marketing and business development Carsten Cramer said: “Usually at this time of year the squad for next season is already done. Maybe you sell some players but the plans are done.
“Everyone has to be as flexible as possible. I'm very sure the business on loan will become of higher relevance than periods before and for sure it will take a longer time to plan your squad.
“I'm very, very sure that not on July 1 or even August 1 your team is done. Flexibility is very important, patience will be important.
“I'm very sure the expectations of high fees will go down as well.”
HAAL OF FAME
The “new Erling Haaland” will join Manchester United on August 22.
Tromso and Norway U15 striker Isak Hansen-Aaroen impressed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's staff on trial and was snapped up last year, as the Red Devils fended off interest from Liverpool.
He will now move to Manchester in summer once he has turned 16.
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