Oliver Bierhoff has thrown his support behind the idea of a wage cap as football faces up to a financial crisis.

The former Germany striker warned time is up for the era that has seen top-flight footballers in Europe's top leagues securing huge contracts as a matter of course.

Since the coronavirus pandemic forced football to be widely suspended in March, clubs and leagues have warned of the impact of inactivity.

And even though many leagues are slowly restarting, behind-closed-doors games mean matchday revenue has been lost.

Bierhoff spoke of a "mass of mediocrity" within the leagues, and said such average footballers would have to accept they are not entitled to spectacular salaries.

"It has come to the time when many are ready to at least discuss it – even those who were not before the crisis," he told t-online.de. "Especially from the biggest clubs in Spain, England and France."

Bierhoff, now a director of the German Football Federation (DFB) said he would support salary limits that were "legally feasible and if we think about it together across Europe".

Football authorities are battling to protect the vital revenue stream of broadcasting deals, which have been the lifeblood of the game, allowing teams to finance an abundance of seven-figure salaries.

Bierhoff said: "I don't think that the top earners for fans are the problem – as paradoxical as it sounds. [Lionel] Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Jo[shua] Kimmich aren't the problem. The problem is the mass of mediocrity that swims in their wake and and are, in quote marks, 'overpaid'."

He added: "An average Bundesliga professional will have to expect that he will soon be offered less by his club."

Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez sent social media into overdrive with a cryptic tweet on Sunday.

Spain international Saul posted a graphic with the words: "New club. I'll announce it [in] three days."

Followers immediately thought an impending transfer was coming, but the 25-year-old has another six years left to run on a contract that includes a reported €150million release clause.

While reports in the Spanish media insist the tweet has nothing to do with Saul's future, it echoed Antoine Griezmann famously announcing his Atletico future in a documentary entitled 'La Decision' in 2018. Griezmann confirmed he would be remaining at the club, only to leave for Barcelona a year later.

It has also been claimed Saul is set to announce he has bought part of a club or even invested in an esports team.

So even though it is highly unlikely Saul will reveal he is leaving the Wanda Metropolitano just a week before LaLiga resumes following its suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic, we look at who could be in the market for one of the world's best midfielders.

 

Manchester United

United have long been credited with an interest in the Atleti star, but they shelled out an initial £46.5m (€55m) on Bruno Fernandes in January. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes Fernandes can form a formidable midfield partnership with Paul Pogba, but the Frenchman's future at Old Trafford remains a constant source speculation.

Manchester City

The Red Devils would face competition from local rivals City, though. Fernandinho is not getting any younger and spent much of the 2019-20 campaign at centre-back through necessity, and Pep Guardiola will be looking for a long-term successor who can anchor the club's midfield for the coming years.

Paris Saint-Germain

Any time an elite player is available, PSG will always be linked. The Ligue 1 champions have just completed the signing of Mauro Icardi for a reported €50m and having previously managed to get a UEFA investigation into their finances shut down, they will not be shy in splashing out further to improve their chances of getting their hands of the Champions League trophy.

Barcelona

With Ivan Rakitic expected to be on his way out, Barca's hunt for a new midfielder has reportedly had them looking in the direction of Juventus' Miralem Pjanic, though Arthur refused to be included as part of the deal. The Blaugrana have never been afraid to shell out huge amounts of money and LaLiga's defending champions would no doubt be in the race if Saul was available.

Bayern Munich

Manuel Neuer has signed a new deal at Bayern and David Alaba is set to follow soon, but Thiago Alcantara has reportedly hesitated over extending a contract that is set to expire at the end of next season. Hansi Flick could therefore be in the market for an elite midfielder and Saul would fit the bill. However, Bayern have long maintained they will not spend over €100m on a player.

Other options

If Pjanic is on his way to Barca, and with Adrien Rabiot's future at Juve shrouded in doubt, the Serie A champions would surely see Saul as an ideal candidate to slot into their midfield.

Maurizio Sarri coached Jorginho at Napoli and Chelsea, though, and the Italy international is said to be a target for the Bianconeri. Should he leave Stamford Bridge, the Blues could see Saul as a great replacement.

Sandro Tonali is keen on a move to Juventus or Inter according to Brescia owner Massimo Cellino – news that will apparently come as a blow to Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona.

In-demand midfielder Tonali continued to burnish his reputation this season despite Brescia languishing at the bottom of Serie A.

With relegation looming, the 20-year-old appears certain to move on and he is not short of potential suitors.

Cellino believes Tonali will remain in Italy and told Corriere dello Sport he has no interest in advances from Ligue 1 champions PSG.

"Nasser [Al-Khelaifi, PSG president] would like him in Paris, he wrote to me today, but Tonali doesn't want to go to France," the former Leeds United and Cagliari chief said, before claiming Napoli and Fiorentina were in the hunt but are likely to fall short at the expense of Serie A's traditional giants.

"Inter and Juve are the destinations he prefers. [Napoli president Aurelio] De Laurentiis has offered me €40million, Fiorentina want him too, but his destiny is pretty much written."

Tonali was also purportedly the subject of a part-exchange offer from Barcelona that came up short.

"Before COVID, Barcelona had reached €65m plus two very interesting young players valued €7.5m each, one was a full-back," Cellino added.

"I believe that the Catalans received an answer they didn't like. And not from Tonali."

Brescia will resume their seemingly doomed 2019-20 season against Fiorentina on June 22 and Cellino insists no final decision will be made on Tonali's future until the campaign is concluded.

"I'm not dealing with anyone. There are still 12 games to play and the boy must remain calm," he added.

Lille have received multiple offers for Victor Osimhen having rejected interest in the forward during January, according to owner Gerard Lopez.

The Nigeria international only joined the Ligue 1 club from Sporting Charleroi prior to the 2019-20 season but is already being linked with a big-money move elsewhere.

Osimhen has scored 18 goals in all competitions, including two in a Champions League campaign that saw Lille only register a solitary point as they finished bottom of Group H behind Valencia, Chelsea and Ajax.

While the 21-year-old's agent recently claimed Napoli were the only club seriously interested, Lopez has revealed there are a number of suitors from three different leagues in Europe. 

"There are multiple offers," he told Sportsmail. "We turned down one English and one Spanish offer this January transfer window.

"There is a wide array [this summer] and I wouldn't want to give the names of the clubs who are bidding but what I can tell you is that there are multiple [offers]. There are three championships that have clubs that have bid for him."

Lille stand to make a considerable profit on a player they reportedly paid €12million for last year; he has been linked with Premier League trio Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham.

The Gunners signed Nicolas Pepe from the same team in 2019 and Lopez expects somewhere close to the rumoured £72m (€80m) they received for the Ivory Coast forward.

"I am not being a sales guy because last year people didn't believe that we had the offers we had with [Nicolas] Pepe and it turns out we had multiple of them," Lopez said.

"Let me tell you with Osimhen, it is the same thing, whatever number you heard, the high number I have read is very much on the money of the offers that we have received. That's where we are."

Dimitri Payet welcomed the "great news" of Marseille head coach Andre Villas-Boas agreeing to lead the Ligue 1 giants into the Champions League next season.

Former Chelsea and Tottenham boss Villas-Boas had been repeatedly linked with a move away from OM in recent months.

However, Marseille confirmed the offer of a contract extension for the Portuguese, who this week agreed to remain at the club.

With the 2019-20 Ligue 1 campaign cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, Marseille - second at the season's premature end - will play in Europe's elite club competition under Villas-Boas.

For talisman Payet, who scored nine goals and provided four assists in 22 league games this term, the announcement was cause for celebration.

"[Villas-Boas] had all the support from the locker room," the midfielder told Journal de l'ile de La Reunion.

"A year ago, few of us would have seen us in second place in the standings with such a small squad. He did whatever it took to be rewarded for achieving this goal.

"It's also great news for me because we had a good season together. He loves to have the ball, and I love the beautiful game."

Payet acknowledged the speculation surrounding Villas-Boas' future but suggested Marseille have grown used to such sagas.

"The recent management of the coach shows OM have grown in crisis management," the 33-year-old added.

"Beyond all that we have been able to say, we manage to talk to each other, to find solutions all together, to wash our dirty laundry with the family.

"Despite all that has been reported in recent days, he is still with us. He wants to continue the adventure. This is what counts today.

"When we say that OM is a family, it's not just words. We really are together, without listening to outside opinions. We are united when it comes to the club."

Mauro Icardi has completed a permanent move to Paris Saint-Germain from Inter after the Ligue 1 club triggered their purchase option.

Icardi moved to PSG on loan last year after his relationship with the Inter hierarchy became strained, and a return to San Siro rarely looked likely.

The first half of the 2019-20 season proved particularly productive for the 27-year-old, who had little difficulty dislodging Edinson Cavani in the starting XI and forming a formidable attack with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Although his form dipped at the start of January, he still finished the shortened Ligue 1 campaign with 12 goals in 20 appearances.

Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio recently confirmed PSG's option on Icardi was due to expire on May 31, and the French champions have made their move just in time, with the forward signing a deal which runs until June 2024.

Reports claim PSG will pay an initial €50million, but the deal could eventually reach €57m.

Mauro Icardi has completed a permanent move to Paris Saint-Germain from Inter after the Ligue 1 club triggered their purchase option.

Icardi moved to PSG on loan last year after his relationship with the Inter hierarchy became strained, and a return to San Siro rarely looked likely.

The first half of the 2019-20 season proved particularly productive for the 27-year-old, who had little difficulty dislodging Edinson Cavani in the starting XI and forming a formidable attack with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

Although his form dipped at the start of January, he still finished the shortened Ligue 1 campaign with 12 goals in 20 appearances.

Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio recently confirmed PSG's option on Icardi was due to expire on May 31, and the French champions have made their move just in time, with the forward signing a deal which runs until the end of June 2024.

Reports claim PSG will pay an initial €50million, but the deal could eventually reach €57m.

Rennes president Nicolas Holveck ruled out an exit for Eduardo Camavinga this close season with the midfielder linked to Real Madrid.

Madrid are reportedly interested in the 17-year-old midfielder as the LaLiga giants look for a back-up for Casemiro.

However, Holveck said Camavinga, who is contracted until 2022, would be staying at Rennes for at least another season.

"For Eduardo Camavinga, the project is to continue to progress at Stade Rennais," he told RTL on Saturday.

"The next season should be that of the consecration in Rennes for him."

Holveck added: "Very sincerely, yes, the project next season will be with Eduardo."

Camavinga made 36 appearances in all competitions for Rennes this season, scoring once.

Former AC Milan and Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is planning to take his next job outside of Italy, according to Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini. 

Allegri has been without a team since leaving Juve at the end of the 2018-19 season, having led the Bianconeri to five Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia wins and the Champions League final twice in five years at the club. 

The 52-year-old revealed last year he was learning English and has been heavily linked with Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain, while talk of interest from Bayern Munich and Arsenal was rife earlier in the campaign. 

Allegri spent two seasons at Cagliari during his playing career and was their coach between 2008 and 2010. 

Giulini offered him the opportunity to return during the club's centenary year but was rebuffed as Allegri intends to work overseas for the first time in his career.

"I made a bit of a mad phone call towards the end of January, offering Allegri the job, knowing full well it was going to be impossible," Giulini told Sky Sport Italia on Saturday, Cagliari's 100th anniversary. 

"Massimiliano told me his next adventure will be abroad, even if he was fascinated by the proposal of leading Cagliari during our centenary year. 

"I knew even before making the phone call it was going to be improbable." 

Former AC Milan and Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is planning to take his next job outside of Italy, according to Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini. 

Allegri has been without a team since leaving Juve at the end of the 2018-19 season, having led the Bianconeri to five Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia wins and the Champions League final twice in five years at the club. 

The 52-year-old revealed last year he was learning English and has been heavily linked with Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain, while talk of interest from Bayern Munich and Arsenal was rife earlier in the campaign. 

Allegri spent two seasons at Cagliari during his playing career and was their coach between 2008 and 2010. 

Giulini offered him the opportunity to return during the club's centenary year but was rebuffed as Allegri intends to work overseas for the first time in his career.

"I made a bit of a mad phone call towards the end of January, offering Allegri the job, knowing full well it was going to be impossible," Giulini told Sky Sports on Saturday, Cagliari's 100th anniversary. 

"Massimiliano told me his next adventure will be abroad, even if he was fascinated by the proposal of leading Cagliari during our centenary year. 

"I knew even before making the phone call it was going to be improbable." 

Lyon would be taking a major risk by signing Mamadou Sakho from Crystal Palace, former France star Willy Sagnol has warned.

The defender has been strongly linked in recent days with a switch to OL, who next season will be aiming to atone for a disappointing 2019-20 campaign.

Sakho, 30, joined Palace in 2017 after spells at Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain and has won 29 caps for France, albeit just two since 2015.

Injuries have impeded Sakho this season and he has made just six Premier League starts for Palace during the disrupted campaign, which has been suspended since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That appearance record is what worries ex-Bayern Munich defender Sagnol, who is concerned Lyon may face a hefty price tag for a player with a track record for missing a large number of games.

Sagnol, France's 2006 World Cup right-back, told French broadcaster RMC's After Foot show: "When an English club allows a player who is just 30 to leave, it's not a good sign.

"The Premier League demands a lot physically, athletically and in terms of intensity. It's a league that wears you out.

"In terms of character, yes, I think he can bring a lot to this team. The lack of character has been a recurrent evil at Lyon for three or four years. But he can only bring that if he isn't injured regularly."

Sagnol admitted he had not seen Palace or Sakho in recent action, adding: "But I think if he had been in good form, we would have seen him back in the France team.

"We haven't seen him back and that's not very positive. For me, when we have a big transfer in terms of price and salary, you have to reduce the risks of a mistake for French clubs. With this, I think there are a lot of risks."

Kylian Mbappe is not a good fit for Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, according to Jason McAteer.

The Reds have been linked with a move for the Paris Saint-Germain star, who has been prolific in French football since breaking through at Monaco.

Mbappe has also shone in the Champions League and was part of France's World Cup-winning squad in Russia two years ago.

Signing Mbappe would be regarded by many as a statement of intent from runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool, but former Anfield favourite McAteer is not so sure – with RB Leipzig's Timo Werner and Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho higher on his wish list.

"You can't stand still, you need to evolve. From a manager's perspective, always trying to stay two, three moves ahead," McAteer told Stats Perform News.

"It's Jurgen's job to visualise what he sees next season, preparing for upcoming seasons.

"PSG are a unique club, desperate to win the Champions League, put a fantastic squad together, [but] players want a bigger challenge. 

"The Mbappe one for me doesn't sit quite right – a superstar in his own right, [but] not the right time to come to Liverpool.

"[I'm] not sure he’s Jurgen's kind of player. At the minute, just not for me.

"I'd rather see Werner or Sancho. We could see him [Mbappe] at Liverpool because he fits for different reasons, but for football, I just don't know that he fits at this current time."

Klopp's side sit 25 points clear at the top of the table, with action in England set to resume on June 17 as the Reds close in on a first top-flight title in 30 years.

Ligue 1, meanwhile, was ended in April with leaders PSG awarded the championship on a points-per-game basis.

Jadon Sancho and a return to England continues to make headlines.

The England international and former Manchester City youngster is reportedly keen to move back to his homeland.

But Borussia Dortmund are not willing to make things easy for Sancho's suitors.

 

TOP STORY – BVB NOT BUDGING ON SANCHO PRICE

Borussia Dortmund are not prepared to offer discounts on Jadon Sancho amid strong interest from the Premier League, according to Goal.

Dortmund star Sancho has been linked to Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool and the England international remains keen on a move to the Premier League.

While Sancho reportedly has no intention of renewing his Dortmund contract – which expires in 2022 – the Bundesliga outfit are unwilling to accept anything less than £100million (€110m) amid the coronavirus pandemic.

 

ROUND-UP

- Le10Sport claims Paris Saint-Germain have made a €60m offer for Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Lazio, however, are reportedly set to reject the bid.

- Staying in the French capital and Sky Sport in Italy reports PSG and Inter have reached an agreement over the transfer of Mauro Icardi. The Argentina international forward has spent the 2019-20 season on loan at PSG. The Ligue 1 champions are reportedly set to pay €50m plus €7m in bonuses.

Arsenal, Chelsea and United are interested in Juventus and Italy international Federico Bernardeschi, claims Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Sky Sport Italia journalist Gianluca Di Marzio says United are eyeing Monaco forward Pietro Pellegri. The 19-year-old Italian has been plagued by injuries in France.

Juve want to bring Chelsea forward Pedro to Turin, according to Calciomercato. The Spanish veteran, who is set to become a free agent, worked with Maurizio Sarri during the Italian coach's time at Stamford Bridge.

- Sport reports Martin Odegaard's future at Real Madrid depends on head coach Zinedine Zidane. Odegaard has flourished during his two-year loan spell at Real Sociedad and whether the Norwegian returns to the Basque Country remains to be seen.

Arthur remains committed to staying at Barcelona amid Juventus links, Mundo Deportivo says. Juve have been keen on bringing Arthur to the club, with Miralem Pjanic tipped to leave for Barca. However, Arthur is happy at Camp Nou and sees Spanish football more compatible with his style.

French clubs will be allowed to play friendlies in July ahead of the new season, it emerged on Friday.

The 2019-20 campaign was abandoned in April amid concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, with Paris Saint-Germain declared champions and Amiens and Toulouse relegated.

Most clubs still had 10 games to play and the decision caused controversy and, in places, uproar.

Lyon owner Jean-Michel Aulas, whose seventh-placed team missed out on a European place, has yet to back down in his campaign to get the top flight restarted, given those in Germany, Spain, Italy and England have either resumed or will soon be swinging back into action.

Aulas has also been forcefully pushing the idea that clubs should be allowed to play warm-up games in July, amid his insistence that football can be played in a safe environment.

Speaking to Le Parisien on Thursday, Aulas suggested Lyon could take part in a mini-tournament involving PSG, Saint-Etienne and Lille, as part of pre-season preparations.

The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) has now confirmed friendlies can go ahead, announcing that detail within a news release regarding international broadcast rights.

A meeting of the LFP board - which includes LFP president Nathalie Boy de la Tour, French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet and club officials including PSG's Nasser Al Khelaifi - was held on Friday.

"During this meeting, the LFP board recalled that the 2020-2021 season will be able to restart as agreed next August with friendly preparation matches in July," an LFP statement read.

The statement added the LFP was focusing on playing matches next season with "all or part of the crowd under the hygiene conditions which will be defined with the public authorities".

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Ander Herrera believes Ligue 1 chiefs were "too drastic" in bringing an early end to the season.

PSG were declared champions on April 30 after the remainder of the French top-flight campaign was called off due to the coronavirus pandemic, with most teams still having 10 games remaining.

However, the Bundesliga resumed earlier this month and plans are in place for LaLiga, Serie A and the Premier League to get back under way in June.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has been vocal in his opposition to voiding the season, with his side finishing seventh and missing out on a place in the Champions League.

Herrera is also unsure why the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) was so quick to cancel the rest of 2019-20 and admits to being "envious" of those still playing.

"In my opinion, France cancelled the league prematurely because it is showing that they can come back," Herrera told Marca. "You see your team-mates working and you are envious.

"Soccer without the fans loses a lot, but I also want to see the positive part because I am a soccer lover and we will be able to listen to the players, the coaches.

"The measures that France was taking as a country were not being so drastic as to suspend the league. My friends and family were confined in Spain and we could continue to leave.

"From my point of view, the decision was made prematurely, with the best intention but it is showing that the soccer of other countries is pulling forward."

Herrera joined PSG from Manchester United on a five-year deal last July and made 18 appearances in all competitions in his first campaign for the French giants.

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