Chinese clubs in the AFC Champions League have seen their first three group games postponed due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced on Tuesday that the matches, which were due to be held this month and in March, will be rearranged for April and May.

The exception is the game between Chiangrai United and Beijing FC, which will go ahead as planned on February 18 as Beijing are in South Korea on a training camp and therefore "may not need quarantine measures", according to the AFC.

Shanghai Shenhua, Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai SIPG are the other Chinese Super League sides involved in this year's tournament.

The AFC's decision came after an emergency meeting in Kuala Lumpur was called after failed initial attempts to have all four Chinese clubs play their first three group games away from home.

The AFC put forward that idea on January 29 but said it proved impossible because "some governments, including Australia, have introduced restrictions which made it impossible for Chinese clubs to travel to play the re-arranged matches".

Dato' Windsor John, the AFC general secretary, said in a statement: "We came together in difficult circumstances to find solutions to allow us to play football while ensuring we protect the safety and security of all players, officials, stakeholders and fans.

"We also accept that this coronavirus is a much bigger issue than just football and we wish all those who have been affected a speedy return to health."

China's top flight has already suspended the opening round of matches due to the coronavirus, while the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing have been put back to 2021 and this year's Chinese Grand Prix also appears under threat.

The World Health Organisation has declared the outbreak of the virus a global health emergency.

There were 20,630 confirmed cases of the disease, which has mostly affected China but has spread to 153 other countries, as of February 4. At least 362 people have died.

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.

Everton's reported plans to hire Vitor Pereira as the successor to Marco Silva have been scuppered after the Shanghai SIPG coach confirmed his intention to remain in China.

The Toffees sacked Silva following their 5-2 Merseyside derby defeat to Liverpool at the start of the month.

Club favourite Duncan Ferguson took charge at the weekend as Everton beat Chelsea 3-1 and the Scot was well received by supporters, though he distanced himself from suggestions he should lead the team full-time.

Pereira, Marcelino, Unai Emery and David Moyes had been linked with succeeding Silva, with the former reportedly their first choice.

But Pereira appears to have ended Everton's chances of bringing him to England.

"It's always a great honour [to be linked to such jobs]," he told Sky Sports News.

"It's a club [Everton] I have so much respect for, but at this point I am still coach of SIPG and it's a club close to my heart and in a country that's growing a lot in football.

"It means that in this moment I'm not in a position to make any other commitments. I need time to think and plan my future by looking at the options I have."

But Pereira did not rule out accepting a Premier League job in future.

"It's a league I love and for sure I'd like to consider an opportunity in the future, for sure," he added.

Erling Haaland is sought after across Europe and it seems Juventus have made the first move.

Haaland, 19, has already scored 28 goals in 21 games for Salzburg this season, including eight in the Champions League.

The Norway forward is attracting interest from the world's biggest clubs and Juventus are not prepared to wait around.

 

TOP STORY – JUVENTUS OFFER HAALAND €3M PER SEASON

Juventus have offered Haaland €3million per season, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Haaland has been linked to the likes of Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund among others.

Juve may be looking to add some youth to their attack, with Cristiano Ronaldo (34) and Gonzalo Higuain (31) in their 30s and Mario Mandzukic (33) out of favour.

ROUND-UP

- Arsenal are still looking for a replacement for Unai Emery. Former Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac wants the job, according to Goal, while the Daily Express reports there is a tug of war between the Premier League club and Manchester City over Mikel Arteta, who is an assistant at the Etihad Stadium.

- A 1-1 draw at Udinese on Saturday left Napoli winless in nine matches, further increasing the pressure on coach Carlo Ancelotti. CalcioMercato reports a lack of good options to replace Ancelotti have bought the Italian more time, but Napoli must beat Genk in the Champions League on Tuesday.

- At Everton, Shanghai SIPG coach Vitor Pereira is the favourite to be named Marco Silva's successor, according to the Daily Mail. David Moyes and Eddie Howe are reportedly the other leading candidates.

- Chris Smalling has impressed while on loan at Roma. Now, Inter and Juventus have joined Roma in wanting to sign the defender permanently from Manchester United, according to Sport Witness.

- Seemingly no longer in Chelsea's plans, Pedro could be set to leave Stamford Bridge. The Daily Mail reports Aston Villa are ready to offer the Spanish forward a way out of the club.

- Inter are interested in Parma midfielder Dejan Kulusevski, who is on loan from Atalanta, according to CalcioMercato.

Barcelona are planning for life after Luis Suarez.

With Suarez now aged 32, the clock is ticking on his career at Camp Nou.

Barca are identifying potential replacements and have their sights on an Argentina international setting Serie A and Europe alight.

 

TOP STORY – MARTINEZ INTERESTS BARCA

LaLiga champions Barcelona are interested in Inter star Lautaro Martinez, reports Mundo Deportivo.

Ernesto Valverde's Barca are looking for a long-term replacement for Uruguay forward Luis Suarez, who turns 33 in January. 

And the front page of Friday's newspaper says Argentina international Martinez fits the bill for Barca amid reported interest from Manchester United.

 

ROUND-UP

Roma have opened talks with Manchester United about signing Chris Smalling permanently, according to the Express. Smalling is on loan from United and the English defender scored his first goal for Roma during the week. The Red Devils are reportedly seeking £17.2million (€20m).

- Remaining at Old Trafford and Sport Italia claims Paul Pogba was close to joining Paris Saint-Germain during the previous transfer window. Pogba was heavily linked to LaLiga giants Real Madrid and former club Juventus .

- Tuttosport says Juventus are ready to make another attempt to sign Real Madrid midfielder Isco. The Spain international has struggled for regular game time and Madrid are reportedly holding out for €70m. The Italian champions have also been linked to Manchester United teenager Tahith Chong, who is out of contract at the end of the season, via the Daily Mail.

- Barcelona's Arturo Vidal is ready to snub the Chinese Super League in favour for a move to Inter, says InterNews. Vidal continues to be heavily linked to a reunion with former Juve boss Antonio Conte at Inter, while Chinese giants Shanghai SIPG are reportedly interested.

United could be set for a raid on Juve. Tuttosport claims the Old Lady will allow Emre Can to leave in January as United, Bayern Munich and PSG eye the Germany international.

- According to the Daily Mail, former Manchester United and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is the front-runner to replace Unai Emery at Arsenal. Emery is under mounting pressure in London.

Sebastian Giovinco secured Al-Hilal's place in the AFC Champions League semi-finals as they set-up a contest with Xavi's Al Sadd.

Al-Hilal overcame fellow Saudi Pro League side and two-time Champions League winners Al-Ittihad 3-1 on Tuesday, though had to fight back from behind.

Ziyad Al Sahafi put the visitors ahead on the night and on aggregate in the 10th minute, but Andre Carrillo hauled Al-Hilal level on the stroke of half-time.

The turnaround was complete three minutes into the second half - Carrillo turning provider as he crossed in for Salem Al Dawsari to head home.

But with Al-Hilal goalkeeper Abillah Al-Mayoof having kept out Hamdan Al Shamrani's close-range header, Giovinco's composed finish relieved the pressure and wrapped up the win.

Al-Hilal will be joined in the last four by Urawa Red Diamonds, who overcame Shanghai SIPG on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate draw.

Oscar and Marko Arnautovic were among the starters for Shanghai, though it was full-back Wang Shenchao who gave them hope by cancelling out Shinzo Koroki's header.

But without influential forward Hulk - who scored both of Shanghai's goals in the 2-2 draw in the first leg - Vitor Pereira's side lacked the cutting edge to muster another opening.

Indeed, it was Urawa who could have clinched a winner, with Daiki Hashioka rattling the crossbar as they ensured their spot in the semi-finals, where they will face either Guangzhou Evergrande or defending champions Kashima Antlers.

Manchester United defender Diogo Dalot has finished a 10-day injury treatment programme at Chinese Super League club Shanghai SIPG.

The Portuguese full-back arrived in Shanghai on August 29 to undergo rehabilitation on a hip problem with physiotherapist Eduardo Santos, SIPG confirmed.

Santos gained prominence in 2015 for his work with David Luiz, then of Paris Saint-Germain, and now heads up SIPG's medical department.

Dalot has not featured in a competitive match for United this season but a statement on the CSL side's website described his rehabilitation as being "successfully" completed.

"Although it is a long journey, it is worthwhile for me," Dalot was quoted as saying.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last month suggested the 20-year-old would be ready to return after the international break, potentially putting him in the frame for Saturday's Premier League match against Leicester City.

Two penalties from Hulk saw Shanghai SIPG salvage a 2-2 draw against Urawa Red Diamonds in their AFC Champions League quarter-final first leg on Tuesday.

The Japanese side went ahead in the third minute, Tomoaki Makino tapping in from close range after goalkeeper Yan Junling fumbled Kazuki Nagasawa's free-kick.

Urawa doubled their advantage after 30 minutes when Shinzo Koroki latched onto Nagasawa's pass and slotted underneath Yan.

Hulk gave Shanghai hope for the second leg in three weeks, though, slotting home from the spot in the 49th and 71st minutes to restore parity – though the upright denied him a hat-trick in between.

Former Chelsea midfielder Oscar says he has spoken to "two Milan clubs" as he attempts to engineer a move to Serie A.

The Brazil international joined Shanghai SIPG in 2017 and won the Chinese Super League last year and the 2019 Super Cup.

The 27-year-old now seems keen to return to Europe and is taken with the idea of playing in Italy's top flight.

When asked if he knew of any interested teams, he told passioneinter.com: "Yes, I've spoken to two Milan clubs in these [last few] weeks.

"I can't go into details, but, yes, one thing I can say: I want to play in Italy."

Oscar won two Premier Leagues, the EFL Cup and the Europa League during a five-year stint with Chelsea.

It has been suggested Inter or Milan could pursue a loan deal for the player, including the option to buy.

Oscar has scored six goals in 18 CSL appearances this year, with Shanghai SIPG third in the table, two points behind leaders Guangzhou Evergrande.

Marko Arnautovic insists he always gives his all and criticised the European media for suggesting otherwise.

Arnautovic left West Ham on Monday, joining Chinese Super League champions Shanghai SIPG for a reported fee of £22million

The 30-year-old only signed a new five-year deal at London Stadium in January, with West Ham handing Arnautovic the bumper contract after he initially submitted a transfer request amid interest from a then unnamed Chinese side.

However, Arnautovic scored just twice following the saga, with his commitment at times called into question.

But on his presentation as an SIPG player, Arnautovic hit back, claiming the media's portrayal of his attitude is inaccurate.

"They do not train with me, they do not play with me, but they just write something," the former Werder Bremen and Stoke City forward said.

"Maybe that's the characteristic of European media, the truth is that I always give everything to my team, I never spare myself.

"I'm here to work hard, I want to do my part so the club can achieve all of its goals."

Arnautovic is joining former Chelsea playmaker Oscar at SIPG - who currently sit third in the Chinese Super League - while ex-Porto star Hulk is also at the club.

"I feel they are very good people who really want to help me integrate into the team, and I feel very welcome," said Arnautovic, who will wear the number seven jersey previously taken by SIPG's record goalscorer Wu Lei, now at Espanyol.

"Because of this meaning, I feel more pressure," Arnautovic responded when asked if he would be able to fill the void left by SIPG's former star winger.

"But I am ready for this challenge to make many goals and assists with this jersey and this number."

Marko Arnautovic has completed a move from West Ham to Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG.

Arnautovic handed in a transfer request at London Stadium in January, but agreed to stay at West Ham, signing a new five-year deal.

However, renewed interest from China reportedly led to the 30-year-old former Stoke City forward asking to leave West Ham again in July.

The fee to take him to Shanghai is rumoured to be £22million, with Arnautovic linking up with Hulk and former Chelsea playmaker Oscar at SIPG.

A West Ham statement read: "West Ham United can confirm that Marko Arnautovic has joined Chinese Super League champions Shanghai SIPG for an undisclosed fee.

"The 30-year-old Austrian departs after two seasons at London Stadium, during which he scored 22 goals in 65 appearances in claret and blue."

Arnautovic joined West Ham from Stoke in 2017, scoring 11 Premier League goals in his first season at the club before netting 10 more in the top flight last term.

Manuel Pellegrini's side must now look to bring in a replacement for the striker, with Andy Carroll and Lucas Perez having already left the club.

They have been linked with a £45m move for Maxi Gomez from Celta Vigo.

Manchester United are desperate to sign Leicester City defender Harry Maguire.

Maguire, 26, has reportedly told Leicester he wants to leave, with both Manchester clubs linked with a move for the centre-back.

But it seems Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is eager to bring the England international to Old Trafford.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UNITED STARS GIVE MAGUIRE THUMBS-UP

Maguire is Manchester United's number one defensive target, according to the Mirror.

The report says Solskjaer received positive feedback from the likes of Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young, the United trio having played with Maguire for England.

The Mirror also say United assistant manager Mike Phelan is desperate for the club to sign Maguire, who he worked with briefly as Hull City manager in 2016-17.

It was reported earlier this week that United had made a £70million bid for Maguire.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Old Trafford, Manchester United have offered goalkeeper David de Gea – who has been linked with a move away – a final £350,000-per-week contract, according to The Sun.

- Romelu Lukaku is set to join United's pre-season tour despite reportedly being set for a move away. The Sun say Inter are yet to meet United's £75m price tag for the striker.

- After 12-and-a-half years at the Santiago Bernabeu, Marcelo is set to leave Real Madrid. The left-back, who faced plenty of criticism during 2018-19, will leave the LaLiga giants in the coming weeks, according to Sport.

- It looks set to be a busy few days for West Ham. The Premier League club have agreed to sell Marko Arnautovic to Shanghai SIPG for £23m, according to the Daily Mail. The Mirror say the Hammers are looking at West Brom striker Salomon Rondon, while Football London report the club are trying to land Celta Vigo forward Maxi Gomez, who was set to join Valencia.

- There could be another talented forward heading to China, with Sky Sport Italia reporting Stephan El Shaarawy has agreed to move to Shanghai Shenhua. Roma reportedly want €20m for the forward.

- AC Milan have completed a €16m move for Empoli midfielder Ismael Bennacer, according to Gianluca Di Marzio, who also reports the club have enquired about Benfica's Gedson Fernandes. Still at San Siro, Sky Sports News report Liverpool are not looking to sell rumoured Rossoneri target Dejan Lovren.

Real Madrid refuse to give up on a move for Paul Pogba - and Gareth Bale could be the key to getting a deal done.

Pogba, 26, has been linked with a Manchester United exit, having said last month it could be time for a "new challenge" three years after returning to Old Trafford.

Madrid's rebuild is well and truly under way with Zinedine Zidane and, linked with a midfielder, the LaLiga giants are continuing to chase Pogba.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID RETAIN POGBA HOPE

According to AS, Real Madrid have not given up on signing Pogba.

The report says Manchester United have so far refused to negotiate a deal for the France midfielder, but Madrid are still pursuing the World Cup winner.

Bale could be part of a potential deal, however, with Madrid willing to offer United the attacker, according to Marca.

However, Bale has told Madrid he wants to see out the rest of his contract, which runs until 2022, at the Santiago Bernabeu, per AS.

ROUND-UP

- Antoine Griezmann's expected move from Atletico Madrid to Barcelona is happening. L'Equipe report Griezmann will make a €120million switch, with Marca saying Barca are preparing to present the France forward next week.

- With Griezmann's arrival, and potentially that of Neymar too, there are expected to be departures from Camp Nou. Sport report Philippe Coutinho has agreed terms with Paris Saint-Germain in the first piece of the puzzle that will lead to Neymar's return to Barcelona. Sport also say Barca are prepared to listen to offers of at least €50m for defender Samuel Umtiti.

- Harry Maguire appears set for Manchester, but which half remains to be seen. The Sun report Manchester United had a £70m bid for the defender rejected by Leicester City, while Manchester City are also willing to bid that much. Maguire has reportedly told Leicester he wants to leave and, unsurprisingly, Arsenal are looking to land the centre-back on the cheap, prepared to offer £50m, according to The Sun.

- Alexandre Lacazette could be on his way out of Emirates Stadium. The Arsenal forward is a target for Barcelona, according to Yahoo Sport FR, while the Mirror link Lacazette with Atletico Madrid.

- Having fallen down the pecking order at Anfield, Dejan Lovren could be set for a close-season exit. La Gazzetta dello Sport say Lovren's agent has held talks with AC Milan, with Liverpool apparently wanting €27.9m (£25m) for the centre-back.

- Marko Arnautovic is again linked with a move to China. The West Ham forward has lodged a transfer request after a £19.7m bid from Shanghai SIPG, according to the Mirror, just months after opting against a move to the Chinese Super League.

- After Rafael Benitez left for Dalian Yifang in the Chinese Super League, Newcastle United have made Belgium boss Roberto Martinez their top target, per The Sun. Martinez has managed in the Premier League with Everton and Wigan Athletic, but Pep Guardiola's assistant at Manchester City, Mikel Arteta, also continues to be linked to the vacancy.

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