The 20 clubs in the English Premier League, EPL are together losing about US$31 million each weekend that action in the globe’s most-watched sporting competition is suspended. That figure covers matchday related income alone. Television rights account for the bulk of EPL teams’ earnings and collectively, the suspension in play, induced by COVID 19,  is causing the teams to lose an estimated US$920 million. That’s a revenue bleed that no financial analyst would have ever seen in their career, let alone having a strategy to staunch.

Every player in the first team squad of an EPL team is a millionaire. Every. Single. One. There are 512 players listed in the first team squads of all 20 EPL sides, an average of about 26 players for each club.

Manchester City’s 24-man first-team squad is paid an average basic wage of US$8.73 million each, the highest average in the league. Manchester United, which has the highest overall wage bill at US$396 million, pays its 27 first teamers an average of US$7.66 million each. At the bottom of the payscale is Sheffield United, which pays each of its 22 first teamers a basic average salary of US$910,000, while just above them is Norwich City, which pays its 27 first teamers a basic average wage of US$1.2 million each.

But enough of those big numbers for the moment. The point being made is that EPL players are among the best-remunerated individuals in the global workforce, regardless of industry. The basic wages paid to them comfortably eclipses the wage-plus-bonus-plus-benefits package taken home by some well-paid professionals in other fields. That is why so many people are disappointed at the refusal by EPL players, through their union, the Professional Footballers Association, PFA, to take a pay cut and allow their clubs to breathe in this moment.

Indeed 92% of participants in a recent YouGov survey believe EPL players should take a pay cut in this difficult time, with another 67% saying the players should surrender at least half of their salaries. 

People are not stupid. They know greed when they see it. And already, many on that red hot spit known as social media are roasting players for putting greed above benevolence, compassion and basic humanity.

They ask, how can these players continue demanding their hefty paycheques when many people who work in the unglamorous roles in professional football face the stark reality of being laid off by their struggling employers?

Indeed, the man leading the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), Gordon Taylor has given life to the term irony by his staunch defence of the players’ rights to not have a dollar docked from their salaries. Taylor himself is a man who lives high on the hog. Afterall he can afford to.

In 2017, the now 75-year-old was paid a salary of US$2.7 million. No wonder that in this situation he guards his players’ interests like a mongrel, growling as he protects a piece of liver from a pesky fowl in his master’s yard. 

As Premier League officials meet with club executives and the PFA to reach a common position on wages, the Tottenham Hotspur chairman, Daniel Levy has made a clever move in what appears to be a chess match with his own players.

Levy announced that 550 non-playing staff had agreed to a 20% cut in their wages. He says the move allows the club to keep them all in employment during this period. Levy is among the 550. This move is no doubt intended to guilt trip Jose Mourinho and the 25 members of his first-team squad to do what the cleaning lady, kit man, groundsman, tea lady, club steward and janitor at Spurs have all done.

Levy never does anything without calculating the ramifications down to the last decimal point.

In announcing the pay cut, he exhorted players to do their bit to protect jobs. In other words, if Spurs’ players refuse to give up some of their wages, then the tears of any janitor, cleaner or groundsman who gets sent home for good in this period, will be on the players’ expensively clothed shoulders.

Haters need no invitation to criticise footballers for what they earn and how they live. But this situation is different.

Habitual haters apart, well-thinking folks are also disgusted that almost a month after COVID 19 was declared a pandemic by the WHO, the richest among us are having to be cajoled into giving up some of their earnings to allow businesses to establish a form of balance in this period of disequilibrium.

Per capita, the EPL is the richest sporting competition in the world by revenue. So why are its millionaires having to be begged to give up only a little to stabilize the business of the same employers who facilitate their massive earnings? If a janitor can give up 20% in pay, why can’t a man, who’s earning up to 200 times more per month, not do the same? This is unconscionable.

Selah.

Premier League footballers have been accused of living in a "moral vacuum" and urged to reduce their huge salaries by two prominent politicians amid the coronavirus crisis.

Tottenham, Newcastle United and Norwich City are among the clubs to have used the UK Government's furlough scheme for non-playing staff.

That job retention initiative enables employees to be paid 80 per cent of their wages - up to a maximum of £2,500 per month - by the Government while on temporary leave.

Julian Knight, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, says the scheme was not brought in to assist top-flight clubs while players remain on massive wages.

"It sticks in the throat," said Knight. "This exposes the crazy economics in English football and the moral vacuum at its centre."

He added: "This isn't what it was designed for. It's not designed to effectively allow them to continue to pay people hundreds of thousands of pounds, while at the same time furloughing staff on hundreds of pounds.

"I don't know whether or not the Treasury can legally turn down these applications.

"But at the same time I think football needs to have a good, long, hard look at itself and see whether or not morally this is really right, and whether or not actually what they need to do is come to an arrangement with some of their stars so they can continue to pay their [non-playing] staff 100 per cent of their wages rather than furloughing them on 80 per cent."

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, echoed those sentiments.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "My view is always that those who are the least well-off should get the most help.

"Highly paid football players are people who can carry the greatest burden and they should be the first ones to, with respect, sacrifice their salary, rather than the person selling the programme or the person who does catering or the person who probably doesn't get anywhere near the salary some of the Premier League footballers get.

"It should be those with the broadest shoulders who go first because they can carry the greatest burden and have probably got savings, rather than those who work in catering or hospitality who have probably got no savings and live week by week and who probably won't get the [furlough] benefits for five weeks."

Neymar, Lautaro Martinez or both? Barcelona may have a decision to make this close season.

Neymar has been linked with a return to Camp Nou, while the LaLiga giants are also reportedly interested in Inter star Martinez.

Barcelona could be forced to choose between the two in the next transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR, MARTINEZ OR BOTH? BARCELONA'S BIG DECISION

Barcelona want both Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and Inter's Martinez but know it will be difficult to land the duo, according to Sport.

It reports landing Martinez is shaping to be easier as Inter are willing to accept players as part of a deal.

Martinez has scored 16 goals in 31 games for Inter this season, while Neymar has netted 18 times in 22 appearances for PSG.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United could be turning to an old target. ESPN reports the Premier League club are prepared to make a bid for Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt if the Serie A giants are open to a sale this close season.

- Harry Kane's future at Tottenham seemingly remains unclear. But The Daily Mail says Spurs are confident of keeping the forward, who said on Monday he would not stay at the club just "for the sake of it".

- It looks like Jadon Sancho to Liverpool will not be happening. The Mirror claims the Premier League leaders are not targeting the Borussia Dortmund star, leaving United and Chelsea as the English clubs still in the chase.

- Where will Philippe Coutinho end up next season? Sport reports Leicester City are interested in a loan deal for the playmaker, who is on loan at Bayern Munich from Barcelona. Staying at Camp Nou and Sport says Barcelona are considering a move for Layvin Kurzawa, who is out of contract at PSG at season's end, as a back-up to Jordi Alba.

- Edinson Cavani is also out of contract at the end of the season at PSG, but CalcioMercato reports the Uruguayan striker will not be joining Atletico Madrid, the club he has been linked to.

- With Alexis Sanchez set to return to Manchester United from his loan spell at Inter, The Sun reports the club will be forced to pay the attacker a £1.1million loyalty payment.

Tottenham have cut the pay of their 550 non-playing staff for April and May by 20 per cent because of the coronavirus pandemic, chairman Daniel Levy announced on Tuesday.

Spurs became the second Premier League team after Newcastle United to make use of the United Kingdom government's furlough scheme, which allows employees to claim 80 per cent of their wages up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

Levy hoped players would follow suit, though Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) chief executive Gordon Taylor this week said he planned to block a blanket reduction on their salaries.

"The club's operations have effectively ceased, some of our fans will have lost their jobs and most will be worried about their future," Levy said in a letter published on Spurs' website.

"Our sponsors will be concerned about their businesses and our media partners have no certainty when we may play games again or whether we will be allowed to play in front of our fans. In the meantime, the club has an annual cost base running into hundreds of millions of pounds.

"We have seen some of the biggest clubs in the world such as Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus take steps to reduce their costs. Yesterday [Monday], having already taken steps to reduce costs, we ourselves made the difficult decision – in order to protect jobs – to reduce the remuneration of all 550 non-playing directors and employees for April and May by 20 per cent utilising, where appropriate, the government's furlough scheme. We shall continue to review this position.

"We hope the current discussions between the Premier League, PFA and LMA [League Managers Association] will result in players and coaches doing their bit for the football eco system.

"I have no doubt we will get through this crisis but life will take some time to get back to normal. I hope we will never take for granted so many basic things such as getting off the train at Seven Sisters, walking along Tottenham High Road, entering our stadium with our family and friends, and buying a beer and pie ahead of watching Spurs play at home.

"Many families will have lost loved ones, many businesses will have been destroyed, millions of jobs lost and many clubs whether big or small may struggle to exist. It is incumbent on me as chairman to ensure we do everything we can to protect our employees, our fans, our partners, our club for future generations – and equally important – our wider community where we have such an immense sense of responsibility.

"I wish everyone good health, a speedy return to normal life and watching Spurs at home in front of our fans. Stay safe."

Star striker Harry Kane at the weekend refused to rule out the possibility of leaving Tottenham if the team does not show signs of matching his ambition to win trophies.

The England captain has consequently been linked with a move to Premier League rivals Manchester City and Manchester United, as well as Real Madrid.

Levy believes people discussing such stories need to "wake up" to the enormity of the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on clubs.

He said: "As recently as 18 March I said: 'We shall all need to work together to ensure the impact of this crisis does not undermine the future stability of the club.'

"The decision by governments around the world to effectively close down economies with unheard of peacetime impacts on civil liberties in order to minimise the terrible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the right one to protect human lives.

"The crushing devastation on industries in many countries, the inter-dependence of international trade and travel in every aspect of our daily life is only now beginning to be felt. Every person on this planet will be affected and in my lifetime I cannot think of something so impactful.

"When I read or hear stories about player transfers this summer like nothing has happened, people need to wake up to the enormity of what is happening around us. With over 786,000 infected, nearly 38,000 deaths and large segments of the world in lockdown we need to realise that football cannot operate in a bubble.

"We may be the eighth largest club in the world by revenue according to the Deloitte survey but all that historical data is totally irrelevant as this virus has no boundaries."

Harry Kane's warning to Tottenham that he will not "stay for the sake of it" may have put several European giants on red alert as to his potential availability.

The England captain has made no secret of his ambition to win major trophies and, with Spurs having regressed since reaching last season's Champions League final, the prospect of Kane seeking pastures new is more realistic than ever.

Manchester United and Real Madrid have each been tipped with a big-money move for the prolific striker in the past and could be tempted to test the waters.

Here, we have taken a more in-depth look at what Kane brings to the table, with a little help from Opta.


LEADING FROM THE FRONT IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Since Kane became a regular starter for Spurs in the 2014-15 season, no player in the Premier League has managed more goals than his return of 133. Indeed, only five players have scored more across all top-five European leagues.

In 2017-18, Kane became the first Englishman since Kevin Phillips to score 30 Premier League goals in a single season and the first Spurs player to achieve the feat in a top-flight campaign since Clive Allen in 1986-87.

Kane is Tottenham's all-time leading scorer in the Premier League with 136 in 198 appearances (an average of a goal every 120 minutes), 39 more than Teddy Sheringham (97).

Since his first Premier League goal, Kane has managed 85 more more than any other Tottenham player (Son Heung-min on 51).


SURPASSING SHEARER

Alan Shearer has long held the record for the most Premier League goals with a remarkable 260, but Kane is on a promising trajectory and surpassed a couple of landmarks set by the Newcastle United legend.

Kane scored 39 Premier League goals in 2017, the most in the competition in a calendar year. Shearer previously held the record with 36 goals in 1995.

In that same 12-month period, Kane celebrated six hat-tricks - beating Shearer's benchmark of five trebles in one year (again in 1995).

Overall, Kane has eight Premier League hat-tricks to his name. Only three players have more - Robbie Fowler (9), Shearer (11) and Sergio Aguero (12).


DOING THE BUSINESS ACROSS EUROPE

Kane has also proven a threat in Europe, with an impressive return in the Champions League.

He scored a brace in a 4-2 win over Olympiacos in November 2019, the second of which was his 20th goal in Europe's premier competition.

It took Kane just 24 games to hit that mark, the quickest of any player in Champions League history.

Kane has the fourth-highest goal tally since making his debut in the competition (2016-17). Only Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski and Lionel Messi have score more. Esteemed company indeed.

Tottenham duo Son Heung-min and Steven Bergwijn have been allowed to return to their home countries for personal reasons while the Premier League season is suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The club released a statement confirming that Son has travelled to South Korea, while Bergwijn is in the Netherlands awaiting the birth of his child.

Bergwijn has been in recovery from an ankle injury since Tottenham's 1-1 draw with Burnley on March 7, with the club saying he will do rehabilitation work while with his family.

Son has scored nine goals in 21 Premier League appearances this season but has not played since scoring a brace in a 3-2 victory over Aston Villa in February.

He fractured his right arm during the win at Villa Park and will continue his recovery in South Korea.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane believes the Premier League season should be scrapped if the campaign cannot be completed by the end of June.

Like most of Europe, English football has ground to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic with the Premier League suspended until at least the end of April.

That date could quite easily be pushed back and it remains to be seen how the Premier League will act to contend with the fixture backlog.

Reports suggest games may be played behind closed doors to try and complete the calendar but Kane thinks there should be a cut-off point if next season becomes affected.

"I know the Premier League are going to be trying all they can to finish the season, looking at every option possible. For me, I feel we need to try to finish the season, but there needs to be a point where enough is enough," he said on a live Instagram broadcast with Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp.

"We may have to say, 'we can't finish it'. Going into July and August and pushing next season back, I don't really see too much benefit in doing that. I don't know what's going on behind the scenes, and what it means financially for clubs.

"From a players' point of view, let's try to finish the season, but there needs to be a limit and probably the limit for me is by the end of June.

"If it isn't completed by the end of June, we should look at the options and look forward to next season otherwise I feel it will have such a knock-on effect to next year, the Euros, then the World Cup in 2022."

There have been 19,522 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United Kingdom, while 1,235 people have died.

Harry Kane says he will not stay at Tottenham "for the sake of it" and would consider his future if the club did not show progress on the pitch.

Spurs have not won a major trophy since the 2008 EFL Cup and have regressed since reaching last season's Champions League final under Mauricio Pochettino, with Jose Mourinho now at the helm.

England captain Kane has often spoken of his desire to win titles with Tottenham but reports have suggested he may look elsewhere if his ambitions are not met.

Manchester United and Real Madrid have both been rumoured to be monitoring the situation and Kane offered no guarantees that his long-term future is at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Speaking on a live Instagram broadcast with Sky Sports pundit and ex-Spurs midfielder Jamie Redknapp, Kane said: "Obviously I get asked this question a lot. 

"It's one of those things – I couldn't say yes and I couldn't say no.

"I love Spurs, I'll always love Spurs but I've always said if I don't feel we're progressing as a team or going in the right direction, I'm not someone to stay there for the sake of it.

"I'm an ambitious player, I want to improve, get better and become one of the top, top players. It all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress as a team.

"So it's not a definite I'm going to stay there forever but it's not a no either."

Meanwhile, Spurs confirmed Son Heung-min and Steven Bergiwijn are to be allowed to return to South Korea and Netherlands respectively.

Son has travelled home for personal reasons, while Bergwijn is awaiting the birth of his child.

Spurs said "both players will continue their individual rehabilitation and training programmes during their time away" with the Premier League still suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With the Premier League season on hold until April 30 at the earliest, the English top-flight's big names still managed to get their message across on Saturday.

The Premier League, along with the majority of sporting tournaments and events across the globe, is currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Many nations are in total or near-total lockdown, with people only allowed to leave their homes for essential trips and exercise.

Though there is no sport to keep people entertained, some of the biggest names – both players and managers – from the Premier League came together on Saturday at 1500 GMT to spread the message: "stay at home, save lives."

 

Using his official Twitter and Instagram accounts, Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling shared a video.

"We need to stay at home, let's help our NHS by staying home, only leave if you need food, medicine or exercise," Sterling said. "The NHS have been doing a fantastic job so let's help them continue doing their wonderful work."

He was also joined by his City team-mates Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy, as well as the club's ladies captain Steph Houghton.

Across the city, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also offered his support to the campaign.

"Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives," the Norwegian said in a video posted to United's Twitter feed.

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on March 12 and, having now recovered, he also shared the message.

"I encourage everybody, please be responsible and stay at home as much as possible," the Spaniard said.

Meanwhile, Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard said: "To help save lives, you must stay home. Only leave home to buy essential food, medicine or for individual exercise and always stay two metres apart. This is an urgent message. Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives."

Premier League leaders Liverpool shared a graphic which read: "Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives."

Tottenham striker and England captain Harry Kane did not share a video, but wrote in a post on Twitter: "Saturday 3pm normally means football. But at the moment it's far more important everyone stays home. Do your bit. Protect the NHS, save lives."

It is easy to lose track of time in these strange days of lockdowns and isolations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Right now it seems an eternity ago, yet it was only a year to the day – March 28, 2019 – that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed as Manchester United's full-time manager.

The Red Devils had won 14 of their 19 games in all competitions during Solskjaer's temporary stint, including a famous Champions League last-16 second-leg comeback at Paris Saint-Germain.

Rio Ferdinand had demanded United hand his fellow club icon a blank contract to sign and the good times were, it seemed, on their way back to Old Trafford.

And yet after all that early promise, it has been a year largely of stagnation. Twelve months of two steps forward, then a couple back. Those early successes seem like halcyon days, although there were encouraging signs prior to the suspension of the Premier League as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Below, we have taken a look at how Solskjaer's United compare to the other "big six" (Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal) over the past 12 months in the Premier League with the help of Opta data.

ONLY HALF AS GOOD AS SIZZLING REDS

If Manchester United knocked Liverpool off their (insert naughty word here) perch, then Jurgen Klopp's Reds have conquered all in front of them in their bid to return to it.

Liverpool's wait for a Premier League title may have been frustratingly held up but over the past year they have accumulated an astonishing 103 points from 36 top-flight matches.

That is 22 more than Manchester City, second in our table for this span, have accumulated.

United are a whopping 50 points adrift of Liverpool's accumulation having played a game more. Indeed, their tally of 53 is only the seventh best and is fewer than Wolves (56) and Crystal Palace (55).

Chelsea have managed 63 and are fourth behind Leicester City (64), but United have amassed more points than both Tottenham (51) and Arsenal (50).

 

LAGGING BEHIND IN WINS AND GOALS

A slight concern for United fans is the fact they have won just 14 of the 37 league games played during Solskjaer's permanent stewardship thus far.

Of the so-called "big six", only Arsenal (12) have triumphed in fewer outings, with Tottenham on the same number and Chelsea (18), City (26) and Liverpool (34) all ahead.

In the same period, only Spurs – now managed by the man Solskjaer replaced, Jose Mourinho – have lost more games, with 14 to United's 12.

The January signing of Bruno Fernandes has gone some way to helping United's creativity void in midfield, though their return of 51 goals is significantly lower than Liverpool (85) and City (84).

Only the Gunners (50) have managed fewer, with Chelsea (64) and Spurs (57) both ahead of Solskjaer's side in this bracket.

It comes as little surprise that United also struggle in terms of shot conversion (9 per cent). Chelsea (10 per cent), Spurs, City, Arsenal (all 12 per cent) and Liverpool (15 per cent) all perform better.

It is not necessarily for a lack of efforts, either. United have registered more shots (544) and shots on target (203) than both Arsenal (411 and 141) and Spurs (486 and 169).

 

FEWER CLEAN SHEETS THAN A HOTEL LAUNDRY ROOM

Defensively, United stand up reasonably well against their five major rivals. They have conceded fewer goals (44) than each of Arsenal (48), Spurs (47) and Chelsea (45). Liverpool (25) and City (33), unsurprisingly, lead in that department too.

But United have not been able to keep too many clean sheets. Indeed, they have denied opposition sides from scoring on just eight occasions. Only Tottenham - with seven - have a worse record.

United have faced 142 shots on target, which is less than Spurs (180) and Arsenal (185).

There could be a number of goalkeeping changes around Europe.

With Kepa Arrizabalaga's future uncertain at Chelsea, Manuel Neuer is reportedly an option for Frank Lampard's side.

Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen has also been linked with a move away from Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TARGET NEUER

Chelsea are interested in signing Bayern Munich captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, according to Sport Bild.

Lampard's Chelsea are reportedly looking to move on from Kepa – the world's most expensive goalkeeper after leaving Athletic Bilbao in 2018.

Neuer is on Chelsea's radar, with the Germany star yet to agree a new deal at Bayern, who have been linked to fellow German and Barcelona keeper Ter Stegen.

ROUND-UP

Leonardo Bonucci to Manchester City? Calciomercato claims Pep Guardiola is "obsessed" with Bonucci and wants to bring the Juventus defender to the Etihad Stadium at the end of the season. Juve, however, are unwilling to sell the Italy international.

- The Mirror claims Barcelona are tracking Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele. The Frenchman became Tottenham's club-record signing ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, but he has struggled in London amid criticism from head coach Jose Mourinho. Spurs have been linked to RB Leipzig's Marcel Sabitzer.

- Bayern star David Alaba is likely to leave the Bundesliga champions at the end of the season, reports Sky Sport Germany. It comes as reports link the Austria international to Barca and Real Madrid. Meanwhile, The Sun claims City are set to be offered Alaba and cash for Leroy Sane.

Inter are considering a move to sign Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen as a free agent at season's end, says Calciomercato. The Nerazzurri are also unwilling to keep Alexis Sanchez, who is on loan from Manchester United.

Mauro Icardi has turned down a transfer to LaLiga in order to push for a move to Juventus, according to Elgoldigital. Icardi is on loan at Paris Saint-Germain from Inter.

- Calciomercato says United and Tottenham have made offers for Inter centre-back Diego Godin. The reports adds United are looking to sign both Godin and Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly.

Harry Kane is unlikely to join Manchester United because Jose Mourinho would not allow Tottenham to sell their star striker to the Red Devils, says Rio Ferdinand.

There has been growing speculation England captain Kane will be open to the idea of departing Spurs if the club do not realise his ambition of winning major trophies.

It is thought Spurs would want at least £150million for their talisman, with United having been touted as a possible destination for Kane.

But Ferdinand doubts former Red Devils boss Mourinho, now in charge at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, would allow a deal to happen.

"Would I take Harry Kane now? Of course you would," former United centre-back Ferdinand said on Instagram Live.

"If he's fit and he's raring to go, you take Harry Kane at Man Utd, 100 per cent.

"Top player, you're guaranteeing goals, in the Premier League you're guaranteeing goals.

"This geezer scores goals but I don't see Tottenham letting Harry Kane go.

"And with Mourinho there, I don't see Mourinho letting him go to Man Utd."

United are also thought to be among the clubs chasing a big-money deal for Kane's England team-mate Jadon Sancho.

The former Manchester City forward has been a sensation for Borussia Dortmund and Ferdinand would love to see Sancho gracing the Old Trafford turf.

"I would take Sancho all day, to Man Utd," Ferdinand said. "Whether we'll get him, though [who knows?].

"Great player, great potential, English, he's brilliant. I would take Sancho now."

While Sanco is being tipped to leave Signal Iduna Park, Birmingham City's highly sought-after teenager midfielder Jude Bellingham could be on his way to Dortmund.

United are another club said to be in the hunt for Bellingham, who turns 17 in June, and Ferdinand says while a reported price tag of £30million appears excessive, the club should take a gamble on the prodigious talent.

"Jude Bellingham, huge talent, huge talent, really good-looking footballer in the way he plays, the balance he's got, the maturity at such a young age," Ferdinand said.

"I want to see more but the price tag is phenomenal. £30million odd for a kid, for a 16-year-old boy, it's unbelievable.

"But it's the way of the world now and the way you've got to think about it, if you're paying £30m, if we keep him for 10 years it's money well spent.

"It's a gamble, it's an expensive gamble, but for the kid to be playing in the Championship and doing what he's doing and looking the player he is, it's a gamble but a calculated one.

"I think he's someone I would 100 per cent take. If I'm Man United now, go in and get him."

Another day, another Lautaro Martinez rumour.

Inter star Martinez continues to dominate headlines as Barcelona reportedly circle.

Barca appear to be closing in on the Argentina international forward.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA MOVE CLOSER TO MARTINEZ

Barcelona have reached an agreement in principle with Inter forward Lautaro Martinez, according to Tuttosport.

Martinez is a player in demand amid links to Real Madrid, Manchester United and Manchester City.

But Barca are desperate to sign Martinez and the report claims the LaLiga champions have reached a deal on the contract and must now negotiate with Inter.

 

ROUND-UP

- ESPN reports United are "optimistic" they will have Paul Pogba at their disposal in 2020-21 as no club can afford him. The disgruntled star has been linked to former team Juventus and Madrid.

- Serie A champions Juve are keen on replacing forward Gonzalo Higuain with City's Gabriel Jesus, says Calciomcercato.

Barca are struggling to offload Brazilian attacker Philippe Coutinho, according to Marca. Coutinho, on loan at Bayern Munich, has been linked to Chelsea, United, Arsenal and Tottenham. However, Barca have been unable to find a team willing to spend at least €80million (£73m). Another loan spell is being considered.

- Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland has become Madrid's primary transfer target, ahead of the likes of Martinez and RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner, claims Marca. Madrid continue to eye Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe as his contract is due to expire in 2021, while team-mate Neymar is reportedly another option.

Napoli will demand at least €40m for striker Arkadiusz Milik, says Calciomercato. It comes as Milan and Inter reportedly circle the Poland international, who is no closer to signing a new deal in Naples.

- Corriere dello Sport reports Zlatan Ibrahimovic is considering retirement but Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis wants the 38-year-old striker to sign a new deal.

- Brescia midfielder Sandro Tonali is at the top of Juve's wish list, Tuttosport claims. Tonali is also wanted by Inter, United, City and PSG. Alternatives for Juve are Roma pair Nicolo Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini, as well as Fiorentina duo Federico Chiesa and Gaetano Castrovilli.

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