Shanghai SIPG midfielder Oscar would be interested in playing for China if FIFA allowed him to switch international allegiances.

The former Chelsea man has won 47 senior caps for Brazil and won the 2013 Confederations Cup with his home country, but his last appearance was in a World Cup qualifying win over Peru in November 2015.

Oscar moved to the Chinese Super League in December 2016 and would meet requirements to become a naturalised Chinese citizen next year.

FIFA regulations prohibit a player changing national teams if they have made a competitive senior international appearance, but Oscar would consider representing China if the rules are changed.

"As far as I can, I can think about," the 28-year-old told CGTN, the English-language arm of state television CCTV.

"It's difficult to go to Brazil national team now because I'm here, but in China everyone sees how good I play.

"If in the end, if the China national team need one good midfielder, so I can help if they change. I like China but I think the players now, if they go to change the nationality to go to China, they can do better also."

There has been an influx of foreign players joining the CSL in recent years as huge investment in the competition made it possible for clubs to offer significant wages, although the introduction of a salary cap has controlled spiralling spending costs.

Oscar, who moved from Chelsea for a reported €61million, has already seen Brazilian-born Elkeson play for China after gaining citizenship, although the Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao forward had never played for his country of birth.

Marouane Fellaini scored a hat-trick in his first Chinese Super League match since recovering from coronavirus.

The former Manchester United midfielder scored three times in seven minutes in the second half to secure a 3-2 win for Shandong Luneng over Rafael Benitez's Dalian Pro.

It was the Belgium international's first competitive game since he contracted COVID-19 in March.

The 32-year-old was treated in hospital for the virus and was discharged on April 14.

The CSL season began on Saturday five months after it was initially due to start, with the competition having been put on hold due to the pandemic.

Fellaini joined Shandong for a reported €12million in January last year after spending five and a half years with United.

Former Manchester City and Barcelona star Yaya Toure trained with League Two side Leyton Orient on Friday.

Photos of Toure wearing Orient training gear were posted on the London club's official social media account.

The Ivory Coast great, who won the Premier League three times with City and two LaLiga titles and the Champions League at Barcelona, is reportedly training with the team to get fit ahead of the new season.

After a stint at Olympiacos, Toure joined Chinese League One side Qingdao Huanghai last year and helped them earn promotion to the Super League.

Toure has been heavily linked with a move to Brazilian side Vasco da Gama and appeared in a campaign video alongside presidential candidate Luiz Roberto Leven Siano.

Leven Siano has claimed the 35-year-old signed a contract that will run from January 2021 until December 2022.

The delayed Chinese Super League (CSL) season will begin on July 25, five months after it was originally scheduled to start.

The CSL was due to get under way on February 22, with Guangzhou Evergrande looking to defend their title, but was postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Suzhou and Dalian have been chosen by the Chinese Football Association (CFA) as the two cities to host games, though the governing body is yet to confirm the schedule.

"In order to satisfy the broad masses of people's eager anticipation of the restoration of the Chinese Football Association Super League, the CFA decided after a study that the 2020 Super League will be held on July 25 in Suzhou and Dalian respectively," a statement read.

"The CFA will do its utmost to ensure the service guarantee of the tournament, strictly abide by the requirements of the national epidemic prevention work, and conscientiously do a good job in the organisation and management of the tournament to ensure the safe and orderly progress of the CSL."

Champions Guangzhou, who are managed by former Italy international Fabio Cannavaro, finished two points clear of Beijing Guoan last season.

Qingdao Huanghai and Shijiazhuang Ever Bright were promoted to the top tier for 2020 but Tianjin Tianhai have disbanded since the previous campaign, declaring bankruptcy in May.

Spanish coach Juanma Lillo has left Chinese club Qingdao Huanghai amid reports he could join Pep Guardiola's staff at Manchester City.

Lillo's departure was announced on Friday, with the impact of the coronavirus cited as the principal factor behind the decision.

He led Qingdao to promotion into the Chinese Super League last year, but the 2020 top-flight championship has yet to begin due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former City midfielder Yaya Toure featured in Lillo's team, but now Spanish sport daily Marca claims Lillo is poised to link up with Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium.

Qingdao confirmed 54-year-old Lillo's exit on their website, with the club praising his ""excellent business skills and coaching skills" and his successful transition to Chinese football.

A statement said Lillo's mother had been ill in Spain at the same time as the coronavirus taking hold across the world and "needed urgent care".

The Chinese club said that with uncertainty over when the league would begin, Lillo "feels that he cannot help and support the team's daily training and regular games", and added that an agreement had been reached to part ways.

"From now on, Mr Juanma Lillo will no longer serve as the head coach of Qingdao Huanghai Football Club," the club said. "We thank him for his outstanding contribution to Qingdao football in the past period of time, wish him all the best in his future work and life, and sincerely wish his mother a speedy recovery.

"Regarding the future, Mr Juanma Lillo said he will continue to coach in Europe."

Lillo issued a farewell statement in which he did not mention his future plans but thanked Qingdao for taking him on, expressing the hope China would qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

He said his departure was "due to the impact of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak".

If Lillo does join City, he would take up a role on a coaching staff that lost a significant figure last December when Mikel Arteta left City to become manager of Arsenal.

Lillo and Guardiola are long-time friends, according to Marca. Lillo's list of former clubs includes Real Sociedad, Real Zaragoza, Salamanca, Tenerife, Almeria and Vissel Kobe.

A "buzzing" Odion Ighalo has thanked Shanghai Shenhua for allowing his loan move to Manchester United to be extended until January 2021.

Ighalo initially joined United in a temporary deal at the end of the January transfer window as the club sought cover in attack for the rest of the season, with Marcus Rashford suffering a long-term injury.

The signing of Ighalo raised eyebrows, but the former Watford man scored four goals in eight matches in all competitions - starting just three of those games.

The season's suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic in March led to concerns United would lose the services of Ighalo before the conclusion of the 2019-20 campaign.

But United confirmed they had reached an agreement with Shanghai on Monday, leaving the 30-year-old overjoyed.

"I'm really happy," he told United's official website. "It's a dream for me to be here. I'm buzzing and ready to go.

"I feel okay. The last few days have been difficult as there have been different talks about it but now I'm really happy, so I need to concentrate fully. I'm here until the end of January, so it's good for me.

"I decided I want to stay and I'm happy. Since the first day I arrived, I made it clear that I wanted whatever it takes to continue that work. It was very difficult, there were some talks, but I'm happy they finally agreed and got everything done. Everything is official now.

"I'm sending thanks to the Shanghai president and director for the support because they know this is what I want. So, I'm thanking them and I'm happy that this has happened. They wish me all the best too.

"Like I've said, since I was young, I've been supporting this club and playing for it is a dream. Now I've extended my loan, it makes it more even clear and I'm committed as I know, in my head, I'm here until the end of January

"I just want to work hard and enjoy it, support the team and do whatever I can to make us go higher and higher."

Pending final government approval, the Premier League will resume later this month.

United head into the final nine league games three points adrift of fourth-place Chelsea, while they are also in the FA Cup quarter-finals and have one foot in the last eight of the Europa League having thrashed LASK 5-0 in their final match before the season halted.

Manchester United have agreed a loan extension with Shanghai Shenhua that ensures they will have the services of forward Odion Ighalo until January 2021.

Former Watford striker Ighalo was a surprise addition at Old Trafford at the end of the mid-season transfer window.

Negotiations to extend his stay were required just to allow him to finish this campaign, with his original spell at United due to finish at the end of May.

But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men have now opted to retain the Nigeria international for the first half of next season too, which is testament to his impressive start.

Stats Perform News have used Opta data to look at how Ighalo has done in the very early stages of his United career.
 

IGHALO MAKES MOST OF LIMITED TIME

Ighalo has had limited time to make an impact, as he did not make his debut until February 17, with the coronavirus pandemic halting the season under a month later.

The 30-year-old made a total of 8 appearances for United across all competitions, 3 of which were starts, accumulating 319 minutes on the pitch.

He has scored 4 goals, right in line with his expected goals total of 4.03, and fired in 17 shots on goal, 11 of which were on target.

Ighalo had a shot conversion rate of 23.5 per cent and he also created 8 chances for his team-mates, which includes his 1 assist.

STATS FAVOURABLE COMPARED TO BIG SIX RIVALS

When compared to the main strikers at the other members of the Premier League's big six – Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal – Ighalo's stats are favourable.

No player has scored more than his 4 goals across all competitions since February 17, and the only forward who matches him in that tally is in fact team-mate Anthony Martial. 

Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has scored 3, comes the closest.

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah (19) is the only player to fire in more shots, while Ighalo is the top performer when it comes to attempts on target, with Martial second as he sits three behind.

Martial and Mason Greenwood both have better shot conversion rates of 28.57 per cent, with Aubameyang (42.86 per cent) coming out on top in that category.

But Ighalo's mark is still better than that of Liverpool’s front three - Salah (10.53 per cent), Sadio Mane (13.33 per cent) and Roberto Firmino (7.4 per cent) - as well as City duo Gabriel Jesus (15.38 per cent) and Sergio Aguero (13.33 per cent).

Jesus (10) and Salah (9) created marginally more chances than Ighalo, but no other top striker registered more than half of his tally of 8, with Aguero, Mane, Firmino and Greenwood all on 4 as others fared worse.

He and Mane were the only forwards able to register 1 assist over that time too, with his creative play proving an added bonus for United over his early appearances.

Manchester United have struck a deal to extend Odion Ighalo's loan move from Shanghai Shenhua until January 2021.

Ighalo joined United in January, going on to score four goals in eight appearances in all competitions prior to the suspension of the season due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Nigeria international had only been due to stay until May 31, yet United have now agreed to keep him at Old Trafford until January 31 next year.

Former Watford striker Ighalo – who supported United as a boy – has not yet started in the Premier League, but he has netted in each of his starts in the Europa League and FA Cup.

Speaking on MUTV last week, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he was hopeful of securing a deal for the 30-year-old.

"The loan deal went until the end of May now, so obviously he's supposed to be going back," Solskjaer said.

"We're in dialogue. They've been great towards us, his club, and allowed him to play for his dream club.

"It's been a dream for him and hopefully he can finish off what he started, hopefully with a trophy for us."

The Premier League season is due to restart on June 17, with teams having returned to contact training last week.

 

Could Spain international Fabian Ruiz be set for a return to his homeland?

Former Real Betis star Fabian, who now plays for Napoli in Serie A, is a reported target for Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The Spanish rivals are trying to lure Fabian back to LaLiga.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA, MADRID DO BATTLE FOR FABIAN

Barcelona and Real Madrid are set to battle each other for the signing of Napoli star Fabian Ruiz, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Spanish midfielder Fabian has been linked with a return to LaLiga throughout the season, having left Real Betis for Napoli in 2018.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Napoli are expecting Barca and Madrid to go head-to-head for Fabian – who is contracted to the Serie A side until 2023.

 

ROUND-UP

- L'Equipe says Inter have made an offer for Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette. With Inter star Lautaro Martinez linked to Barca, the Nerazzurri are eyeing alternatives, however, Lacazette is not interested in swapping London for Milan.

- There could be some big changes at Madrid in 2022. AS Diario says Los Blancos want Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland to team up with Eden Hazard in a new strike force. The likes of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Isco will be out of contract at the end of the 2021-22 season.

Juventus are ready to negotiate a deal for Santos teenager Kaio Jorge, according to Calciomercato. Santos are demanding €30million for the 18-year-old, though Juve are only prepared to pay €15m.

- The Daily Mail claims Manchester City and Newcastle United have joined Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in the race for 18-year-old Penarol winger Facundo Pellistri.

Odion Ighalo is prepared to pass on a £75m contract with Shanghai Shenhua to stay at Manchester United, reports the Daily Star. Ighalo's loan deal is set to expire at Old Trafford.

Manchester United star Paul Pogba returning to Juventus is apparently shaping as impossible.

Pogba, 27, has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford, with Juventus and Real Madrid reportedly interested in landing the midfielder.

But it seems the Serie A giants will find such a deal impossible.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA RETURNING TO JUVENTUS IS IMPOSSIBLE

Pogba leaving Manchester United to return to Juventus is looking impossible, according to Sport and Corriere dello Sport.

Sport says the Bianconeri cannot afford the €100million (£89m) United would want for the France international.

Pogba left Juve to join United for £89m (€105m) in 2016.

ROUND-UP

- James Rodriguez is pushing for a stay in the Spanish capital. Mundo Deportivo reports the Real Madrid playmaker is determined to sign for Atletico Madrid.

- Real Madrid may be looking for a back-up in his position, but Casemiro is seemingly going nowhere. Marca claims the midfielder recently extended his contract until 2023.

- Odion Ighalo is set for a return to China. The Mirror reports the striker is expecting to go back to Shanghai Shenhua from his loan spell at Manchester United after just eight appearances for the Premier League club, with the Chinese Super League side demanding he returns. Goal says United will focus on RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner and Lyon's Moussa Dembele with Ighalo leaving.

- Forget trying to land Ansu Fati this close season. According to Sport, Barcelona will keep the 17-year-old, who is reportedly wanted by Borussia Dortmund and Premier League clubs.

- Newcastle United are looking at signing Liverpool midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri if they are taken over, according to the Daily Mail.

- It seems Adam Lallana is set to leave Liverpool when his contract expires at the end of the season. The Mirror reports Burnley have joined the fight for the midfielder, who is also said to be a target for Leicester City, Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham.

Augusto Fernandez admits he did not swap Atletico Madrid for Beijing Renhe for the football, but believes the Chinese Super League is underrated.

Argentina international Fernandez spent two years playing under Diego Simeone at Atletico, joining in January 2016 as cover for Tiago following the midfielder's leg break.

However, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament the following September and made just 21 LaLiga appearances for the club before heading to Beijing.

Fernandez, who is back in Madrid following the expiration of his contract in China and has opened an Argentine restaurant, acknowledged he could have remained at Atleti had he wanted.

"I'm not going to be a hypocrite; I didn't go to China for the football. I had two years left on my Atletico contract and Cholo [Simeone] loved me," he told Radio Continental.

"Chinese football is underrated. People think it's played with a paper ball. Go run at a Chinese person, hit a Chinese person and see who wins. The Chinese are fast and aggressive.

"Chinese football was for me an experience like life. Rare, different. So different.

"I went to compete, to train. You don't earn the respect of the Chinese with what you did in the past, with your name. You earn it by training well and producing results.

"Chinese football is fast but has a lot of tactical deficiencies. If you don't quit, you earn respect."

Beijing won just three CSL games in 2019 and finished bottom of the table, suffering relegation to League One.

Neymar's return to Barcelona could be getting a little closer.

The Paris Saint-Germain star continues to be linked with a return to Camp Nou, where he left in 2017 for a world-record €222million.

While there is uncertainty over whether Barcelona can get a deal done, it seems it may be getting closer.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR CLOSER TO BARCELONA RETURN AS PSG EYE DEMBELE

Paris Saint-Germain remain very interested in signing Ousmane Dembele and it could help Neymar return to Barcelona, according to Sport.

France international Dembele has struggled with injuries since joining Barca from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, but the former Rennes attacker could be set for a return to his homeland.

However, Marca reports Neymar is not a priority for Barcelona with their focus on Inter star Lautaro Martinez and Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic.

Staying at Barcelona and Sport says the club are following Hertha Berlin's 18-year-old midfielder Lazar Samardzic.

 

ROUND-UP

- Timo Werner starred again for RB Leipzig on Sunday with a hat-trick against Mainz in the Bundesliga. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp held a virtual meeting with the forward in recent weeks, according to journalist Raphael Honigstein.

- With Bayern Munich deciding not to buy Philippe Coutinho, the Barcelona attacker's future remains unclear. Le 10 Sport reports Arsenal want to start talks with the playmaker's agent, with head coach Mikel Arteta dreaming of signing the Brazil international.

- Toni Kroos looks set to finish his career at Real Madrid. AS reports the 30-year-old midfielder has no interest in leaving Madrid, where he is contracted until 2023, amid links to MLS and the Chinese Super League.

- Odion Ighalo's Manchester United career may be over already. According to the Daily Mail, Shanghai Shenhua have rejected the Premier League club's requests to keep the forward – who has scored four goals in eight games for United – on loan for another three months.

- Could Raul Jimenez leave Wolves for Juventus? Todofichajes reports Juve offered Adrien Rabiot plus €30m (£26.7m) for the star forward.

- Less than a year after leaving Newcastle United, Rafael Benitez is being linked with a return. Benitez, now coach of Dalian Professional in China, wants to return to the club if their proposed takeover is resolved, and sign Manchester City defender John Stones and Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley.

Chinese Super League club Tianjin Tianhai have declared bankruptcy and ceased operations.

Tianjin, who were previously coached by Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro and count Alexandre Pato and Axel Witsel among their former players, have struggled financially since their owner Shu Yuhui was arrested for organising and leading a pyramid scheme last year.

Shu was sentenced to nine years in prison in January.

Shenzhen FC will take Tianjin's place in the 2020 CSL, which has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tianjin finished third-bottom, one place above Shenzhen, who were relegated.

A club statement read: "Given an unsustainable financial situation, the club is no longer able to maintain normal operations.

"After a period of thoughtful consideration… the club has no choice but to formally announce that Tianjin Tianhai is disbanding."

Tianjin were one of the most ambitious Chinese clubs when spending was briefly ramped up during the middle of the previous decade.

After being led out of the second tier by Cannavaro and the goals of Luis Fabiano in 2016, they signed Witsel and Pato for the next season and finished third in the CSL to qualify for the AFC Champions League.

However, Cannavaro then resigned to take charge of Guangzhou Evergrande and a ninth-place finish in their sole campaign under Sousa preceded last term's struggles.

Barcelona are seemingly getting closer to landing Lautaro Martinez.

The Inter star continues to be linked with a move to Camp Nou, where he could play alongside Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi more regularly.

It appears an agreement has almost been reached.

TOP STORY – BARCELONA, INTER AGREEMENT FOR LAUTARO 'IMMINENT'

Barcelona and Inter are finalising a deal for Lautaro Martinez, according to the cover of SPORT.

The report says the clubs are going to agree a deal of close to €60million plus two players – midfielder Arturo Vidal and either Nelson Semedo or Emerson.

SPORT also reports Barca and Martinez have a verbal agreement for a four-year deal.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus are still looking to sign Manchester United star Paul Pogba. AS reports Juve are offering the Premier League club Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot in their bid to complete a deal.

- Talk continues over Miralem Pjanic's potential switch to Barcelona. SPORT claims Juventus have also offered LaLiga's champions Mattia De Sciglio, along with the midfielder. SPORT also says Jean-Clair Todibo, who is on loan at Schalke, could be part of the deal.

- With 22 goals for Lyon this season, Moussa Dembele continues to attract interest from the Premier League. The Daily Star reports Manchester United are increasingly confident of landing the former Celtic forward in a £60m (€68.4m) deal.

- Odion Ighalo's loan at Manchester United from Shanghai Shenhua expires at the end of June. The Sun says the striker is desperate to extend his stay at Old Trafford, with the Chinese Super League club reportedly demanding a transfer fee.

- Linked with a move to Liverpool, Werder Bremen striker Milot Rashica appears to be heading elsewhere. BILD reports the 23-year-old's move to RB Leipzig is becoming more and more likely. Rashica has scored seven goals in 20 Bundesliga games this season.

Fabio Cannavaro has sympathised with Virgil van Dijk after the Liverpool star narrowly missed out on winning last year's Ballon d'Or award.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi came out on top by just seven points in the voting to claim football's most prestigious individual honour for a sixth time.

A defender has not won the award since Cannavaro did so in 2006 in the wake of Italy's victory at the World Cup.

Cannavaro felt Van Dijk was extremely unfortunate not to triumph after the huge impact he had on Liverpool's backline on their way to Champions League glory in 2019.

He believes defenders start at a disadvantage when compared to attacking stars like Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"I messaged Van Dijk to congratulate him on last season but, as a defender, it is difficult to win," Cannavaro said to Sky Sports.

"You don't just need to have a great performance and to win trophies.

"You need to be lucky not to have a striker like Ronaldo and Messi in front of you. This is the key. If you have Messi or Ronaldo you start the game 1-0 up."

Liverpool had three of the top five players in last year's Ballon d'Or voting, with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah also faring well.

"Liverpool had an amazing season and they deserve to win and celebrate this league," added Cannavaro, referring to the Reds' position at the Premier League summit.

"But we are in this [coronavirus] situation and it's a shame for them.

"I respect Salah a lot. He's changed a lot at Liverpool. For the last three years, he's been like a machine. 

"He's the player every coach would like to train because he can defend and attack and he leaves everything on the field, he never gives up."

Cannavaro, who is in charge of Guangzhou Evergrande, hopes to manage in the Premier League one day.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola are among those he is impressed by.

"I watch every game in the Premier League and I like the ambiance and culture of football in England," he said.

"I am in China to try to improve my system and idea within football. I am at one of the best Asian clubs and of course, in the future, I'd like to try one experience in Europe. 

"I like the Klopp mentality but at the same time, I like the Pep culture about football because always we need intensity with and without the ball. 

"But you need to control the game and try to win. I have my system and I hope one day you will see."

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