Player contracts could be extended and the transfer window moved under recommendations made by FIFA to mitigate the huge disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

With most football across the planet on indefinite lockdown amid the spread of COVID-19, the game's global governing body put together a taskforce aimed at tackling some of the most pressing issues.

Among them was the matter of player contracts, which generally coincide with the calendar of the season, meaning many professionals will see their terms expire before the delayed 2019-20 campaign can be completed.

FIFA has recommended extending contracts, which would in turn delay the initiation of any terms that would have come into force at the start of next season.

Furthermore, the body said it would be "flexible" with regards to the dates of the next transfer window for respective leagues, such that they can still fall between the end of this season and the start of the next.

President Gianni Infantino hopes the proposals will "serve to bring a measure of stability and clarity to football for the foreseeable future".

A statement explained: "Expiring player contracts usually end when the season ends, with a termination date that coincides with the end of the season.

"With the current suspension of play in most countries, it is now obvious that the current season will not end when people thought it would.

"Therefore, it is proposed that contracts be extended until such time that the season does actually end.

"This should be in line with the original intention of the parties when the contract was signed and should also preserve sporting integrity and stability.

"A similar principle applies to contracts due to begin when the new season starts, meaning the entry into force of such contracts is delayed until the next season actually does start.

"With regard to transfer windows, again, it is necessary to adjust the normal regulatory position to the new factual circumstances.

"Accordingly, FIFA will be flexible and will allow the relevant transfer windows to be moved so they fall between the end of the old season and the start of the new season."

Infantino added: "We hope that this collaborative effort, under the leadership of FIFA, can provide a positive example of how football can come together and show unity, solidarity and a spirit of compromise in order to face the challenging times ahead.

"But before these times come, one thing must be clear to everyone, especially now: health comes first, well before football."

Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona for Inter "would not be a drama" for LaLiga nor would he immediately solve Serie A's problems, according to Javier Tebas.

The idea of Messi departing Camp Nou has often appeared fanciful but clashes between the Argentina great and Barca's board this season have made it seem a much more plausible scenario.

Former Inter president Massimo Moratti said this week that a potential Nerazzurri swoop for Messi is not a "forbidden dream at all".

Messi leaving would be seen by most as a blow to LaLiga as well as Barca, given his standing as one of the greatest players of all time.

But LaLiga chief Tebas says the league will always be strong, pointing to Cristiano Ronaldo's switch from Real Madrid to Juventus as proof, while he claimed Italian football would not be fixed purely by Messi's arrival.

"I do not think that the arrival of Messi can solve the problems of Serie A, which are linked to the bad relationship between debts, high and insufficient collections," Tebas said on a video conference with reporters.

"Serie A's figures are stressed, and these economic problems certainly are not solved by Leo Messi. 

"I would like Messi to stay here, but if he leaves it would not be a drama.

"It was said that without Cristiano Ronaldo the league would have lost money, and instead we would have earned it, even in Portugal. Players help but are not essential to a championship. "

Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva's agent Paulo Tonietto said "anything is possible" amid links to former club Milan.

Silva is out of contract at the end of the 2019-20 season and the 35-year-old is set to leave Ligue 1 champions PSG.

The Brazilian centre-back is reportedly open to re-joining Milan, where he won the Serie A title in 2011 before joining PSG the following year.

"In football anything is possible, but we have to wait to see what will happen because of the pandemic," Tonietto told MilanNews.it.

"He has great admiration for Milan, his years with them were those that marked his career.

"He knows about the fans' great affection for him."

Silva has won six Ligue 1 titles since moving to PSG, and 14 other pieces of silverware in the French capital.

Prior the postponement of Ligue 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Silva had made 21 league appearances and 30 across all competitions.

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi joining Inter is not a "forbidden dream at all", according to former president Massimo Moratti.

Messi is contracted to Barca until 2021 but the six-time Ballons d'Or winner's future is far from certain at Camp Nou, where he has clashed with board members this season.

The Barca captain has been linked to Serie A outfit Inter previously and Moratti believes that luring Messi to Milan is not an impossible goal.

"I don't think it's a forbidden dream at all. Maybe it wasn't even before this misfortune," he told Radio Rai.

"Messi is at the end of his contract and it would certainly be attempted to bring him home.

"I don't know if this situation will change anything, but I think we will see strange things at the end of the year."

Inter star Lautaro Martinez has been tipped to move to Barca at the end of the season – the Argentina international seen as a long-term replacement for veteran forward Luis Suarez.

Moratti, who was Inter president between 1995 and 2013, suggested Martinez could be used in an exchange deal for countryman Messi.

"He [Martinez] is a very good lad, he cares about his career," Moratti said. "But, as I said before, we have to see if it's part of an operation for bigger players like Messi."

Barcelona have been warned against pandering to their players' apparent desire to see Neymar return to the club, with former Spain and Real Madrid boss Vicente del Bosque adamant he does not set a "good example".

Neymar spent four years at Camp Nou until 2017, when he left for Paris Saint-Germain as the most expensive player of all time in a €222million move.

While the Brazilian has undoubtedly caught the eye in Paris, scoring 47 goals and setting up another 26 in just 52 Ligue 1 matches, rarely has he appeared happy.

A return to Spain with Barca or Real Madrid has often been mooted, though reports linking him with his former club have been significantly more prominent in the past year.

Del Bosque, a Madrid icon and World Cup-winning coach with Spain, thinks he is a problem and cautioned the Barca hierarchy against caving into the supposed demands of players who reportedly want Neymar back in Catalonia.

"It is the clubs that must decide who to sign and who not to sign," Del Bosque told Mundo Deportivo.

"You should not pay attention to what the players say, for that there are sports directors and technical secretaries. It is very difficult for a footballer to speak ill of another footballer who has been his team-mate. I don't remember almost anyone who has.

"[Neymar] is a difficult boy. For me he is not a good example, and for the record, for me he is great as a player.

"If you ask me to tell you the top five in the world, he is safely on my list, but on the pitch he tries to cheat, he simulates a lot. And also, how did he leave Barcelona?"

The futures of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe continue to make headlines.

Both Paris Saint-Germain players have been linked with big moves to LaLiga.

But coronavirus could scupper their plans.

 

TOP STORY – CORONAVIRUS TO STOP NEYMAR & MBAPPE EXITS

Paris Saint-Germain expect star pair Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to stay at the Ligue 1 champions due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to L'Equipe.

Neymar has been tipped to re-join Barcelona, while Real Madrid hold a strong interest in Mbappe.

But COVID-19 is wreaking havoc globally and the financial implications, which are expected to prompt a fall in transfer fees, could see the pair remain in Paris.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo says Inter have turned down an exchange deal for Lautaro Martinez from Barca. LaLiga champions Barca offered Junior Firpo and Nelson Semedo as part of a deal to bring Martinez to Camp Nou, however, they were rebuffed.

Matthijs de Ligt wants to leave Juventus and his agent Mino Raiola is determined to take the Dutch defender to Madrid, reports ABC. De Ligt has also been linked to Premier League giants Manchester United. The 20-year-old only moved to Turin last year.

Milan are "dreaming" of signing Inter's Mauro Icardi, claims Corriere dello Sport. Icardi – not wanted by Inter – is on loan at PSG but the Argentina international reportedly wants to return to Serie A. The report comes amid speculation ex-Inter head coach Luciano Spalletti could be appointed by Milan for the 2020-21 season. Icardi has also been heavily linked to Juve.

- Calciomercato says Harry Kane to Juventus could be a possibility in the coming months, however, a deal with Tottenham is almost impossible amid the coronavirus pandemic.

- Milan captain and defender Alessio Romagnoli has emerged as a target for Barca, according to Sport. If Romagnoli leaves San Siro, Thiago Silva could return. Tuttosport says the 35-year-old PSG defender, who is out of contract at season's end, is thinking about returning to Milan.

Napoli are in the hunt for a replacement for Arkadiusz Milik, reports Gazzetta dello Sport. Milik is contracted until 2021 but the Polish striker is no closer to a new deal amid links to Milan. If he does leave, Napoli's list of targets includes Inter's Genoa Andrea Pinamonti, Madrid forward Luka Jovic and Mainz attacker Jean-Philippe Mateta.

- Calciomercato says Juve have decided to sell midfielder Miralem Pjanic to free up space in the squad and raise funds. Meanwhile, Gianluca Di Marzio claims Federico Bernardeschi will leave Juve following the arrival of Dejan Kulusevski.

Mark Viduka revealed Leeds United blocked him from joining Milan in a £38million transfer in 2001, while the Australian great also held talks with Manchester United.

Regarded as one of Australia's all-time greats, Viduka was a dominant force during his time with Dinamo Zagreb, Celtic, Leeds, Middlesbrough and Newcastle United.

Viduka spent four years with Leeds and helped the Premier League club reach the 2001 Champions League semi-finals, prompting interest from across Europe.

Serie A powerhouse Milan wanted Viduka but Leeds – eventually crippled by financial issues – prevented the former Socceroos captain from moving to San Siro.

"I had the chance to join AC Milan at the end of the 2001 season, after we made the Champions League semi-final," the 44-year-old told ESPN.

"[Leeds] were negotiating with Milan and wanted £38m. I was friends with [Milan star] Zvonimir Boban at the time, and we were negotiating terms through him. In the end, [Milan] offer the £38m, and Leeds didn't want to sell. And that was that.

"I was a huge AC Milan fan. As a kid, I grew up watching [Marco] van Basten, [Frank] Rijkaard and [Ruud] Gullit ... They were my favourite team. It just wasn't to be."

United – managed by Alex Ferguson at the time – were also admirers and tried to lure Viduka to Old Trafford, however, the 43-time Australia international opted to stay at Leeds.

Detailing a meeting with music icon Elton John, Viduka said: "I was in Manchester, and my agent at the time also had a lot to do with Elton John.

"He said stay for the night and come to the show. He had backstage passes, and I'd get the chance to meet the man for myself. It was an offer I couldn't refuse.

"So I'm there with Jacob Burns, my Leeds team-mate and fellow Aussie, as we got ushered into his dressing room. As we enter, Elton swings around on a swivel chair and says, 'Mark Viduka, you're from Melbourne. I love that place!'

"I was nervous, so I babbled on about my meeting with the Red Devils that day and a possible move. Instead of going to our seats to watch the concert, Elton gets us to watch it at the side of the stage. About three songs in, he says, 'I want to dedicate this next one to my good friend Mark, who is in Manchester today to make a big decision.'

"I'm thinking: 'S***, please don't say anymore!' Thank God he didn't. I didn't sign for Man United. I think I loved living in Leeds too much at the time."

Chelsea star Willian believes it will be "very difficult" to sign a new contract as he heads for a Stamford Bridge exit.

Willian is out of contract at the end of June and his future is unclear amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the Premier League season suspended.

The 31-year-old, who arrived from Anzhi Makhachkala in 2013, wants a three-year deal but Chelsea have been unwilling to meet his demands.

Linked with LaLiga champions Barcelona previously, Willian told Fox Sports Brasil show Expendiente Futebol: "Everyone knows my contract is up in a few months and it looks like it'll be very difficult to secure an extension.

"I think it's unlikely that I'll renew because Chelsea offered me a two-year deal, I asked for three and it ended there.

"There were no more talks or negotiations. Chelsea said that three years would be impossible, so at the moment it seems unlikely that I'll extend, but nothing is impossible.

"We don't know what might happen. We might suddenly reach an agreement, but what I can say today is that my contract is up and I'll be free to negotiate with any club."

"I've built something fantastic at Chelsea," he added.  "I'm especially fond of the fans and the people that work there, and I've felt very settled."

Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa's success at Flamengo was never going to pave the way for a return to Inter, according to the Brazil striker's agent.

The 23-year-old spent just 12 months in Italy following his transfer from Santos in August 2016, scoring one goal in nine Serie A appearances before being loaned out to Benfica, where he played a single league match.

From there he re-joined Santos on another temporary deal and then moved to Flamengo, first on loan before making a permanent switch to the Maracana in January 2020, reportedly earning Inter €17million.

Gabigol's 25 goals in 29 Serie A appearances for Flamengo in 2019, which came after a haul of 18 league strikes for Santos the previous year, led to speculation that Inter might try to recall him.

But his agent, Junior Pedroso, insists that was never a possibility.

He told Calciomercato.com: "Have you ever heard Gabigol say, 'I'm doing very well in Brazil, now I want to show Inter that I can do well there as well', or something like that? No, never.

"The reality is that there was no chance of returning. It was never an option."

Since signing permanently for Flamengo, Gabigol has scored 11 goals in 10 matches across all competitions, and Pedroso believes leaving Inter for good was the best outcome for all parties.

"It was a good deal for everyone: Inter wanted to negotiate the sale, Flamengo wanted to buy him and Gabriel wanted to return to his club," said Pedroso.

"I would like to take this opportunity to say that Flamengo have been very professional with their leadership."

Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer expects a significant decrease in transfer fees following the coronavirus pandemic.

Deals worth in excess of €100million have been commonplace in the past four years, with Neymar becoming the world's most expensive player when he joined Paris Saint-Germain for €222m in August 2017.

Bayern have been more conservative but broke their transfer record by splashing out €80m on Lucas Hernandez last year.

Links to Leroy Sane and Timo Werner led to suggestions the Bavarian giants were willing to break the bank again, but Hainer believes the inflation in the market will have been stemmed by the proliferation of COVID-19.

Revenues have dried up for clubs across the world, with players at Bayern, Barcelona, Juventus and Atletico Madrid among those to take pay cuts while football is on hiatus.

Asked about the potential impact of the coronavirus crisis on transfer fees, Hainer told Bayern's 51 magazine: "As I said, although serious predictions are difficult to make, it's obvious there'll be changes. I agree with Uli Hoeness' assumption that transfer fees will decrease. That's just logical.

"When income decreases, there's less money in circulation. And given the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis on people's everyday lives, outrageous sums in the millions are even less justifiable than they already were.

"My hope is that more common sense will be applied here as well. I have to take my hat off to Hasan Salihamidzic and our sporting leadership. They're handling the coronavirus situation very well."

Bayern players agreed to a 20 per cent wage reduction during the Bundesliga suspension, which is scheduled to last until at least April 30.

Hainer acknowledged the situation has put clubs in precarious financial positions, but he is confident Bayern will be able to get through the crisis without "any major damage".

"Of course, the situation is very tense. It's about the existence of individual clubs. And even FC Bayern faces a major financial challenge – that's no secret," said Hainer.

"But our club is in an excellent position. We work day after day to ensure that FC Bayern can navigate through this phase without any major damage.

"Despite this immense task, we're looking to the future with confidence."

Neymar is reportedly preparing for a return to Barcelona as Paris Saint-Germain accept the star's exit is "inevitable".

The Brazil international arrived at PSG from Barca in 2017 but has regularly been linked with a move back to Camp Nou.

Speculation over Neymar's future continues and he seems to be nearing a Barcelona return.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR PREPARES FOR BARCELONA RETURN AS PSG ACCEPT 'INEVITABLE' EXIT

Neymar is preparing for a Barcelona return and PSG are getting a strategy ready to sell the 28-year-old as it is 'inevitable' he will move on, according to Sport.

Neymar spent four seasons at Barca before a world-record €222million move to PSG.

The forward scored 18 goals in 22 games for PSG before this season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ROUND-UP

- Jadon Sancho is linked with a Premier League move this close season. But The Sun reports the Borussia Dortmund star is ready to reject Manchester United if they fail to secure a spot in the Champions League. United were fifth in the Premier League when the season was suspended.

- Mauro Icardi's future remains uncertain. Corriere dello Sport reports Icardi will leave PSG, where he is on loan from Inter, at the end of the season and Juventus are once again interested.

- With Manchester United again seemingly interested in Matthijs de Ligt, a swap deal could be on the cards. The Sun reports United are ready to swap Paul Pogba – who has been linked with a return to Juventus – for defender De Ligt.

- It may not be the only swap deal involving a Manchester club and Juventus. The Sun says Juve are ready to offer Douglas Costa to Manchester City in a bid to land Gabriel Jesus.

- Ivan Rakitic appears likely to leave Barcelona. Marca reports Atletico Madrid want the midfielder, while Sport reports Barcelona are unaware of their rivals' interest in the Croatia international.

- Barcelona were reportedly prepared to use Junior Firpo in a deal to sign Inter star Lautaro Martinez, but the left-back could head elsewhere. Sport reports Napoli are the most recent club to contact Barca over Junior's availability.

Ajax star Donny van de Beek insisted he was yet to start learning Spanish amid links with a move to Real Madrid.

Van de Beek, 22, is widely expected to eventually make a move away from Amsterdam after impressing at Ajax.

The midfielder said there were several aspects to making a decision about a potential switch, but insisted he was yet to take Spanish language classes.

"My feelings about a club have to be positive. I don't mean that it only important to feel wanted, I also need to fit in to the style of play," Van de Beek told Helden.

"And of course, I would need to know how much playing time I would be given."

He added: "It's always nice to play in the sun, but I haven't started taking Spanish classes yet."

Van de Beek had scored 10 goals in 37 games for Ajax this season before the campaign was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Achraf Hakimi's agent has denied reports the on-loan Borussia Dortmund full-back's Real Madrid contract has been extended until 2023.

The Morocco international is in the second season of a two-year loan at Dortmund and has impressed in the Bundesliga, particularly this term.

Achraf has scored three times and set up another 10 goals in 25 Bundesliga matches in 2019-20, making him one of the league's most productive creators despite being a defender.

Prior to joining Dortmund on a temporary deal, Achraf made nine LaLiga appearances for Madrid during the 2017-18 season and showed promise.

He has built on that in Germany and reportedly attracted interest from other clubs, with Juventus and Bayern Munich said to be admirers, but claims from Spain that Madrid have already managed to extend his contract until 2023 are apparently false.

"There is no basis at all [for such stories]," Achraf's agent Alejandro Camano told Goal/SPOX. "His contract at Real Madrid is still the same one we negotiated in 2017, which runs until 2022.

"We have to wait. After this misery [the coronavirus pandemic] we will sit together with Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund."

Dani Carvajal has been Madrid's first-choice option at right-back this term, making 22 LaLiga appearances.

The club's depth in that position is otherwise limited, while Achraf can also fill in at left-back.

 

 

 

Bayern Munich's contract negotiations with a quartet of key players will not be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, insists CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, David Alaba and Thiago Alcantara are all out of contract in 2021 and are mulling over the offer of fresh terms from the Bundesliga champions, who extended Hansi Flick's stay as head coach on Friday.

Rummenigge reassured Bayern fans that any economic impact from the spread of COVID-19 would not play a part in how those talks played out.

"Our offers are extremely fair and serious - without a 'corona discount'," he told Bild

"I think that not many clubs around the world handle [it like] this in this crisis."

Flick signed on for three years after impressing in interim charge at the Allianz Arena.

He took over from Niko Kovac in November before being appointed head coach on a full-time basis until the end of the season.

Having appeared in danger of failing to mount a title challenge under Kovac, Flick has since restored the winning habit, returning Bayern to the top of the Bundesliga.

However, he is likely to face a rebuilding job during his tenure as the nucleus of a squad who have inspired a decade of dominance are reaching the end of their contracts.

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