Fabio Cannavaro believes it will be difficult for European football to return before the season ends amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sport has been brought to a standstill due to COVID-19, with Serie A, LaLiga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and the Premier League all on hiatus.

The Champions League and Europa League finals have also been postponed, with Euro 2020 pushed back to next year following more than 18,800 deaths worldwide – over 9,800 of the casualties from Italy and Spain.

Former Italy, Juventus and Real Madrid defender Cannavaro – now in charge of Chinese Super League powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande – is not confident that football will resume by May.

"In less than a month it is not known what is going to happen in the world," the 43-year-old told COPE.

"I think it will take a long time for this to end in Italy and Spain.

"It will be difficult for European football to return before the season ends."

Cannavaro has been based in China since joining Evergrande in 2014 before returning in 2017, while he was briefly in charge of the national team last year.

China has enforced strict measures to combat the spread of coronavirus, which originated in the country and has claimed more than 3,270 lives.

"The virus in Guangzhou is under control and life is beginning to go back to normal," Cannavaro added. "There are no more restrictions, only 14 days at home.

"In two days, I finish my quarantine. All of us who come back have to do it.

"Staying at home is essential because we do not give the virus the opportunity to infect more people.

"We have to learn from China, they have more experience in this situation."

Gareth Bale's move from Real Madrid to Jiangsu Suning fell through because Los Blancos asked for a transfer fee at the last moment, the Chinese Super League club's head coach has said.

Wales forward Bale appeared destined to depart the Santiago Bernabeu in July having reportedly agreed a deal that would have seen him earn £1million per week.

But Bale, who joined Madrid in August 2013, remained in the Spanish capital after talks broke down at the last minute.

Jiangsu coach Cosmin Olaroiu said Madrid had originally agreed to allow Bale to leave on a free transfer but changed their mind, making a deal unviable for the Chinese side.

"It was very close," Olaroiu told The National. 

"The club agreed with his agent, his agent was there. We agreed with Madrid and in the last month - I don't know what happened there, they lose some friendly games by a big score - Madrid changed their mind.

"First they said they would release him and we would have to pay his salary, then suddenly they said 'No, you have to pay for the transfer'.

"And paying the transfer and his salary was a little bit over the budget and so we looked for another player.

"But, actually, I know that it was done 90 per cent in the evening, and then in the morning everything changed. But Real Madrid, not us."

Bale has made 17 appearances in all competitions for Zinedine Zidane's men this term, scoring three goals, but was left out of the squad to face Levante on Saturday reportedly due to illness.

The 30-year-old has won LaLiga and Copa del Rey medals with Madrid, as well as four Champions Leagues and three Club World Cups.

Manchester United loanee Odion Ighalo described joining the Red Devils as a "dream come true" following his deadline-day switch.

United completed a shock loan deal for Shanghai Shenhua striker Ighalo on Friday, with the 30-year-old joining until the end of the Premier League season.

With injured star forward Marcus Rashford facing at least two months on the sidelines, United turned to Ighalo, who scored 10 goals for Chinese Super League side Shenhua last term.

"It's a dream come true because since I was a kid I followed and dreamt of Manchester United," former Watford striker Ighalo told Sky Sports News.

"But it is a reality now. I cannot say much more now until I get started."

Ighalo, who was linked to United during former boss Louis van Gaal's tenure after scoring 40 goals from 100 appearances across all competitions for Watford, has starred in China.

After netting 36 times in all competitions in two seasons with Chinese side Changchun Yatai, Nigeria international Ighalo left for Shenhua in 2019.

"It's been crazy. Obviously, I am happy to be in Manchester first of all," he said. "This is a great opportunity for me and I am grateful to God, and to my agent, and the coach who has given me this opportunity to be here.

"I am happy to be here and to work out with the team and finish very well this season. The plan is to just chill today because I travelled a very long way from Shanghai to Manchester. Today is to just rest and tomorrow we start to work."

United drew 0-0 at home to Wolves on Saturday and have no drawn in blank in their past three top-flight outings. 

After the mid-season break, seventh-placed United – six points adrift of the Champions League places – travel to rivals Chelsea on February 17.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Odion Ighalo is a "great lad and very professional" as the Premier League giants completed a deadline-day loan move for the Shanghai Shenhua striker.

Ighalo leaves Chinese Super League (CSL) outfit Shenhua for Manchester on loan until the end of the season at Old Trafford, where there is reportedly no option to buy the Nigeria international.

The 30-year-old arrives at the Theatre of Dreams to help fill the void left by injured star forward Marcus Rashford, who has been ruled out for at least two months.

"Odion is an experienced player. He will come in and give us an option of a different type of centre-forward for the short spell he's staying with us," Solskjaer said on Friday.

"A great lad and very professional, he will make the most of his time here."

Ighalo's loan deal comes after United finally signed Sporting CP captain Bruno Fernandes for a fee of £46.5million (€55m) and a potential further £21.1m (€25m) in add-ons on Thursday.

After finally concluding their Fernandes chase, United turned to attacking reinforcements amid Rashford's injury and the Red Devils beat the transfer deadline to bring former Watford striker Ighalo to the club.

Ighalo, who was previously linked to United during former boss Louis van Gaal's tenure after scoring 40 goals from 100 appearances across all competitions for Watford, has starred in China.

After scoring 36 goals in all competitions in two seasons with Chinese side Changchun Yatai, Ighalo netted 10 times for Shenhua last term.

Manchester United left it very, very late, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was given the extra striker he wanted in the form of Odion Ighalo.

With a move for Bournemouth's Joshua King dead in the water, the Red Devils focused their efforts on a loan deal for the 30-year-old, who has been playing for Shanghai Shenhua since last February.

Ighalo's deal, which Omnisport understands does not include a purchase option, will give Solskjaer another option up front during the injury absence of Marcus Rashford.

He is expected to travel to England in the coming days before United publicly announce the signing.

Ighalo was far from the only major deal to be concluded late in the transfer window, though, as West Ham just managed to finalise the signing of Jarrod Bowen from Hull City for a reported initial fee of £22million.

Aston Villa also announced a new striker signing about 10 minutes before the window closed, Borja Baston joining on a free transfer from Swansea City.

Elsewhere in England, Tariq Lamptey took the decision to leave Chelsea and sign for Brighton and Hove Albion on a contract until 2023. The Seagulls have also brought back Alexis Mac Allister from Boca Juniors, where he was on loan.


LOANS GALORE

Sheffield United had a busy end to the window, securing the arrival of Panos Retsos - initially on loan but with the option of a permanent deal - from Bayer Leverkusen, while Ravel Morrison has been sent on loan to Middlesbrough, having made one Premier League appearance this season.

Leicester City have loaned Ryan Bennett from Wolves, with Filip Benkovic allowed to leave for Bristol City for the remainder of the campaign with a view to earning regular game time.

Everton have sent Jonas Lossl back to Huddersfield Town on loan, while Connor Wickham is also heading to the Championship, the Crystal Palace striker moving to Sheffield Wednesday on loan.

Wolves have secured the signing of Luke Matheson, who famously scored at Old Trafford in September as a 16-year-old, and loaned him back to Rochdale for the remainder of the season.

Leverkusen have also brought in a signing for the future, with Edmond Tapsoba arriving from Vitoria SC for a fee said to be between €16m and €18m.
 

SERIE A FLURRY

Italy's window closed a little earlier than some others and there was a flurry of deals around the deadline.

Marko Pjaca will get the chance to kick-start his career with Anderlecht, Juventus having allowed the winger to leave on loan for the remainder of the season as he looks to earn regular first-team football.

Milan have signed Alexis Saelemaekers, a highly rated 20-year-old from Anderlecht who arrives on loan with the option of a permanent move.

Fiorentina have had a busy end to the window. Kevin Agudelo has joined the Viola from Genoa on an 18-month loan deal, while Valentin Eysseric has been sent to Hellas Verona until June.

Maya Yoshida secured a switch to Sampdoria from Southampton, while Gaston Pereiro's move from PSV to Cagliari was ratified. He will be joined in Sardinia by Alberto Paloschi, with Alberto Cerri heading the other way to SPAL.

Gervinho, meanwhile, has taken another step in his nomadic career by moving to Al Sadd from Parma, who brought in Vasco Regini on loan from Samp.
 

BUSY BARCA

Barcelona will give new €10m signing Matheus Fernandes for time to acclimatise to LaLiga, spending the rest of 2019-20 with Real Valladolid.

Barca have also sent Moussa Wague on loan to Nice, who have the option of a €10m permanent deal, while Ligue 1 rivals Lyon have signed Camilo Reijers de Oliveira for €2m.

Kevin-Prince Boateng was a shock signing for Barca 12 months ago and the experienced forward is on the move again, this time heading to Besiktas on loan from Fiorentina.

Leganes bolstered their attacking depth with two loan deals, bringing in Roger Assale from Young Boys and former player Miguel Angel Guerrero from Olympiacos.

Getafe have landed Erick Cabaco on a permanent deal, the defender joining from Levante, Granada have signed Gil Dias on loan from Monaco, and Real Sociedad have sold Ruben Pardo to Bordeaux.

Celta Vigo, meanwhile, have loaned Emre Mor to Olympiacos, while a late, late deal that saw Nicolas Gaitan sign for Lille for the rest of the season was completed in time.

Manchester United have clinched a surprise move for former Watford striker Odion Ighalo.

Ighalo is joining United on loan for the rest of the season but there is no option to buy in the deal, Omnisport understands.

United, who finally signed Bruno Fernandes for a fee of £46.5million (€55m) and a potential further £21.1m (€25m) in add-ons on Thursday, were eager to bring in a striker prior to the end of the transfer window.

With Marcus Rashford out injured, United were said to have had an approach for Josh King rebuffed by Bournemouth before turning their attention to Ighalo.

The Nigeria forward has spent the past three seasons in the Chinese Super League, scoring 10 league goals for Shanghai Shenhua last term after two prolific campaigns with Changchun Yatai.

But the 30-year-old will now bolster Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's attack, with United just managing to get a short-term loan deal completed before Friday's deadline.

An official announcement from United will come later, but it is understood all aspects of the deal have been agreed.

Ighalo has Premier League experience, having scored 16 goals for Watford in 55 top-flight appearances between 2015 and 2017.

Manchester United have clinched a surprise move for former Watford striker Odion Ighalo.

Ighalo is joining United on loan for the rest of the season but there is no option to buy in the deal, Omnisport understands.

United, who finally signed Bruno Fernandes for a fee of £46.5million (€55m) and a potential further £21.1m (€25m) in add-ons on Thursday, were eager to bring in a striker prior to the end of the transfer window.

With Marcus Rashford out injured, United were said to have had an approach for Josh King rebuffed by Bournemouth before turning their attention to Ighalo.

The Nigeria forward has spent the past three seasons in the Chinese Super League, scoring 10 league goals for Shanghai Shenhua last term after two prolific campaigns with Changchun Yatai.

But the 30-year-old will now bolster Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's attack, with United just managing to get a short-term loan deal completed before Friday's deadline.

An official announcement from United will come later, but it is understood all aspects of the deal have been agreed.

Ighalo has Premier League experience, having scored 16 goals for Watford in 55 top-flight appearances between 2015 and 2017.

Yannick Carrasco has re-joined Atletico Madrid from Dalian Yifang on loan until the end of the season and Diego Simeone has not ruled out further deadline-day arrivals.

Belgium international Carrasco trained with Atletico prior to confirmation of the deal being announced on Friday and coach Simeone hopes to be able to call upon him in the LaLiga meeting with rivals Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

The 26-year-old joined Atletico from Monaco in 2015 and left for Chinese Super League side Dalian in February 2018, but Simeone is pleased to have him back.

"[Carrasco] is excited and wants to be here," said Simeone. "If the paperwork is done, he will certainly be with us [against Madrid].

"I want him to come with the same commitment we spoke about on the telephone. I liked Yannick's desire to come to Atletico. That is an important step for what can happen next."


Atletico reportedly failed with an €18million bid for Edinson Cavani, whose contract at Paris Saint-Germain will expire at the end of the season, but there may still be new additions on deadline day.

"There are still a few hours left. Anything can happen," said Simeone.

The Atleti boss has been subject to increasing criticism in recent weeks, with his team falling 10 points behind LaLiga leaders Madrid and suffering elimination from the Copa del Rey to third-tier Cultural Leonesa.

Zinedine Zidane spoke out in support of his cross-city counterpart on Friday and Simeone was thankful for his words.

"It's nice when a colleague of Zidane's quality thinks this way. I return the message," said the Argentine.

"He is the ideal coach for Madrid. He has the rank and the ability to do what he feels. He returned to compete like he had before he left.

"Madrid have improved a lot defensively. They are very strong. They have many options in attack and that allows him to play with different players.

"It will be a match where the details and intelligence will have a lot of dominance."

The Chinese Super League (CSL) has been postponed following the Chinese Football Association's (CFA) announcement amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Domestic football at all levels in China has been postponed in order to help control the spread of the virus - a SARS-like condition - which has reportedly claimed more than 130 lives.

The CSL was scheduled to get underway on February 22, with Guangzhou Evergrande looking to defend their title.

"The Chinese Football Association will continue to maintain close communication with national authorities, determine the timing of each season's events in combination with the actual development of the epidemic situation and make reasonable adjustments to the system, schedule, and scale of some events when necessary," a statement read on Thursday.

"Relevant information will be released in time through the official channels of the CFA.

"On behalf of the majority of football workers across the country, the Chinese Football Association pays deep tribute to all medical workers and staff who are currently struggling in the frontline of epidemic prevention and control!"

It comes after the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing were also postponed until next year because of fears surrounding the spread of the coronavirus.

There have already been casualties in China as the virus spreads across the globe, and the World Health Organisation called for global action to combat the deadly outbreak on Wednesday.

Fabio Cannavaro's Guangzhou Evergrande dethroned Shanghai SIPG in 2019, finishing just two points ahead of Beijing Guoan.

Manchester United, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund are hoping to sign Juventus midfielder Emre Can.

Can, 26, is out of favour in Turin and has made just two Serie A starts this season.

The former Liverpool midfielder will reportedly be allowed to leave during this transfer window and three European giants are eyeing the Germany international.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD, TOTTENHAM AND DORTMUND EYE EMRE CAN

Manchester United, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund are chasing Juventus' Can, according to SPORT1.

With Euro 2020 coming up later this year, Can wants regular playing time to earn a spot in the Germany squad.

Can made 37 appearances in all competitions for Juve last season, but has played just eight times in 2019-20.

Sportmediaset reports Juve are working on a move for Napoli midfielder Allan to replace Can.

 

ROUND-UP

- Inter will wrap up a deal for Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen early next week, according to Sky Sport Italia. The Serie A club will pay €18million (£15.2m) plus €2m (£1.7m) in bonuses for Eriksen, who is out of contract at season's end.

- Staying at San Siro and Inter are targeting Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud after recognising it would be difficult to sign Napoli's Fernando Llorente, according to Sky Sport Italia.

- Barcelona are making progress in their bid to land Valencia forward Rodrigo, according to Sport. While working on a loan move, Barcelona want an option to buy at season's end, while Valencia want it to be an obligation to purchase for around €60m. The report says Barca are willing to pay Valencia a "penalty fee" if they do not make the loan permanent.

- Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Lemar is close to signing with Premier League club Arsenal, according to El Chiringuito. Lemar has made just nine LaLiga starts this season.

- Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are in talks over a swap deal. Goal reports the clubs are discussing swapping full-backs Mattia De Sciglio and Layvin Kurzawa.

- With Marcus Rashford injured, Manchester United have looked at signing Shanghai Shenhua's Odion Ighalo and Monaco's Islam Slimani, who is on loan from Leicester City, according to Sky Sports.

Having already lost key midfielders Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay to serious injuries, Manchester United now face the prospect of being without top scorer Marcus Rashford for the most important part of the season.

The England international aggravated a back injury during a second-half cameo against Wolves in the FA Cup third-round replay victory, and after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer downplayed United's worries, it was later confirmed to be much more serious than first thought.

Reports began to emerge during United's 2-0 defeat to Liverpool that Rashford had actually been playing through the pain and Solskjaer confirmed he suffered a double stress fracture against Wolves, meaning he could potentially be out for three months.

As such, Solskjaer acknowledged United might be forced into seeking "short-term" solutions in the transfer market, with Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial their only recognisable forwards.

Below, we highlight some potential options.

Paco Alcacer (Borussia Dortmund)

Spain international Alcacer has had a peculiar time at Dortmund. He managed to score 18 times in the Bundesliga last season even though he only started 11 matches, while he has five top-flight goals this term despite only six of his 11 appearances coming as a starter. While he is a completely different type of forward to Rashford, he does represent a kind of attacker United simply do not have, in that he is a poacher. Following the arrival of Erling Haaland – apparently a target of Solskjaer's before he joined BVB – Alcacer might be attainable.

Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain)

After falling out of favour at PSG, Uruguay striker Cavani has asked to leave before his contract expires at the end of the season, with Atletico Madrid and others said to be interested. A proven goalscorer and immensely experienced, Cavani would certainly provide United with a focal point they can aim for and play off – though his wages are not insignificant and he might not be entirely suited to counter-attacking football.

Mariano Diaz (Real Madrid)

Since returning to Madrid in 2018, Mariano has had a difficult time of it. Niggling injuries have impacted his availability and he has unsurprisingly struggled to make a telling contribution as a result. He is yet to feature in LaLiga this term, having fallen well down the pecking order – but that is not to say Mariano is a poor player. Quick, technically good and certainly capable of finding the net, he is perhaps rather more suited to United's style of play than Alcacer or Cavani.

Cedric Bakambu (Beijing Guoan)

In 2018, Bakambu cost Beijing Guoan €40million, the release fee in his contract with previous club Villarreal. The DR Congo striker had enjoyed a solid three-year spell at the Yellow Submarine, with his combination of athleticism, ability on the ball and finishing making him standout as a potential target for bigger clubs. He has continued to score on a regular basis in China and is starting to attract interest from Europe again, with Arsenal and Atletico Madrid apparently keeping tabs on him. United could do a lot worse than the former France youth international.

Promote from the academy

Solskjaer certainly can't be accused of neglecting the young talents coming through at the club. If he was to promote from within, rather than dip into the transfer market, D'Mani Mellor and Largie Ramazani would likely be the two frontrunners. Mellor is a 19-year-old forward who likes to drop deep and engage in sharp link-up play with his back to goal, while he is also a capable dribbler. Ramazani, 18, often operates a little more from wider positions, but the Belgium youth international has impressed for United's Under-23s this term with nine goals in 13 league appearances. Excellent on the ball and a possessor of explosive pace, Ramazani certainly seems to fit the mould Solskjaer likes his forwards to be.

Tottenham appear close to landing a replacement for Harry Kane, while Thomas Lemar could also be set for the Premier League.

Kane needs surgery on his left hamstring and is not expected to return to training for Spurs until April.

It seems the Premier League club are nearing a move for Milan forward Krzysztof Piatek, although there are contrasting reports over the status of the deal.

And, Atletico Madrid midfielder Lemar could also be heading to London.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS CLOSE TO LANDING PIATEK AS KANE REPLACEMENT

Tottenham have agreed a deal worth £28million (€32.95m) for Piatek, according to The Sun.

However, the Mirror reports Spurs have had a loan bid for the 24-year-old Poland international rejected, although talks are continuing.

After netting 11 times in 21 games for Milan last season following a January move from Genoa, Piatek has four goals in 18 this campaign.

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea and Tottenham are both trying to sign Atletico's Lemar on loan until the end of the season, according to The Telegraph. Lemar is linked with an Atletico exit after just nine LaLiga starts this season.

- While Christian Eriksen's possible Spurs exit will dominate headlines this month, it appears the midfielder will not be heading to Old Trafford. Sky Sports reports Manchester United have ruled out making a bid for the Denmark international this month.

- Searching for a right-back, Tottenham are keen on signing Barcelona's Nelson Semedo, according to the Mirror. The position has been a problem for Spurs since Kieran Trippier's off-season move to Atletico.

- Javier Hernandez's stay at Sevilla could be coming to an end. Marca reports the club could let the forward, who has one goal in nine LaLiga games this season, leave amid apparent interest from LA Galaxy.

- Leicester City are trying to sign Juventus defender Merih Demiral, according to the Mirror. Manchester City and Everton are also reportedly interested in the Turkey international.

- Piatek aside, there may be other moves at Milan. La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira says Roma are interested in Suso and Cengiz Under could be heading to San Siro, while Milan are still eyeing Inter's Matteo Politano.

- Could David Moyes and Marouane Fellaini reunite for a third time? Sky Sports reports Moyes' West Ham are interested in signing the Shandong Luneng midfielder, who played under the Scot at Everton and Manchester United.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst has been appointed head coach of Guangzhou R&F, quelling speculation he could succeed Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

The former Netherlands captain heads to the Chinese Super League after ending an informal association with the City Football Group (CFG) that enabled him to spend time at City's training ground.

Van Bronckhorst's presence in Manchester gave rise to suggestions he was being lined up as a replacement for Guardiola amid rumours the Catalan could leave the Etihad Stadium at the end of the season.

CFG executives were said to have been impressed with the ex-Feyenoord boss and reportedly tried to lure him to MLS side New York City before his move to Guangzhou.

"After coming here, I see everyone is motivated and everyone wants to contribute to the development of the club," Van Bronckhorst told his new club's website.

"Not only the daily work, but also the facilities of the club are improving. Coming here is a new challenge. I also hope to contribute my strength and work for the development of the club."

Van Bronckhorst, 44, replaces Dragan Stojkovic, who left Guangzhou this week after more than four years in charge.

The club finished the 2019 CSL season in 12th place.

Arsenal appear to have strengthened their interest in Nuno Espirito Santo.

Just over two weeks after dismissing Unai Emery, the Gunners are reportedly ready to hold talks with one of the top contenders to take over at Emirates Stadium.

But the Portuguese is not alone when it comes to candidates with Premier League experience.

 

TOP STORY – GUNNERS STEP UP NUNO CHASE

Arsenal will ask Wolves for permission to conduct formal discussions with Nuno next week, according to the Daily Mail.

The north Londoners are reportedly ready to "set to accelerate their interest" in the 45-year-old former Valencia and Porto head coach.

Belgium boss Robert Martinez is also said to have been approached, while Mauricio Pochettino, Mikel Arteta and Patrick Vieira continue to be linked.

Freddie Ljungberg has overseen two draws, a defeat and a solitary victory since taking charge on an interim basis.

ROUND-UP

- Like his former employers, ex-Arsenal boss Emery will not be rushed into a decision on his next move. Marca says the Spaniard has turned down the chance to speak to two Chinese clubs and managerless Everton since becoming a free agent on November 29.

- Premier League champions Manchester City hope to bring wantaway winger Jadon Sancho back to the Etihad Stadium after losing him to Borussia Dortmund in 2017, reports the Daily Mail.

- On the outer at Chelsea, Olivier Giroud appears to be moving closer to the Stamford Bridge exit door. L'Equipe claims the France striker is close to agreeing personal terms on a January switch to Inter, where he would reunite with Antonio Conte.

- Serie A side Milan will be offered the chance to sign Luka Jovic on loan from Real Madrid in January, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

- Barcelona will listen to offers of €10million for teenage defender Jean-Clair Todibo, reports Mundo Deportivo. The Spanish newspaper claims Bayer Leverkusen, Milan, Monaco, Southampton and Watford have submitted bids.

- Real Betis have sealed a deal to sign former Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco from Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, according to Deportes Cuatro.

Ezequiel Lavezzi has announced his retirement from professional football.

The 34-year-old said in a statement on social media that he is calling time on "the most amazing phase life has given me".

Lavezzi had suggested last month that he could end his playing career after Hebei China Fortune's final Chinese Super League match of 2019 against Wuhan Zall on December 1, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.

The former Argentina international, who won 51 caps for his country and reached the finals of the 2014 World Cup and 2015 and 2016 Copas America, wrote on Twitter on Friday: "They were amazing years of this story.

"Years marked by learning, unique moments and lots of memories that will stay in my heart for good.

"I am forever grateful for those who have stayed by my side throughout this journey.

"With lots of joy, I say goodbye to the most amazing phase life has given me. I've been extremely happy!"

Lavezzi moved to Hebei China Fortune in 2016 after four years with Paris Saint-Germain, with whom he won four Ligue 1 titles, two Coupes de la Ligue, two Trophees des Champions and the Coupe de France.

He was previously part of a formidable attacking trio with Napoli, alongside Edinson Cavani and Marek Hamsik, and won the Coppa Italia in 2012 with a 2-0 win over Juventus in the final.

Lavezzi started his career with Rosario Central before spending a year with Estudiantes and three with San Lorenzo, where he won the 2007 Clausura title.

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