Adama Traore is the fastest man in football and can be "almost unstoppable" if he sharpens up minor imperfections, according to former team-mate Carles Gil.

Former Barcelona youngster Traore is tearing up the Premier League with Wolves after first finding his feet in English football with Aston Villa, where he and Gil played together and became friends.

Traore, now 24, has been linked with the likes of Premier League champions-elect Liverpool, a mark of his rapid progress since joining Wolves in 2018 from Middlesbrough, his second English club.

Gil believes there has never been a quicker footballer than Traore. Famously, Usain Bolt attempted to forge a football career after quitting athletics, but the men's 100-metre record holder could not make the grade.

"He is a phenomenon," Gil, who now plays for the New England Revolution, told Stats Perform News.

"You will see nothing similar with his characteristics: powerful, speed… no doubt, he is the quickest in the world.

"I have always talked to friends; I don't know if there has been as quick a player ever. Because we all would know him. It is just insane."

Gil recalled the 19-year-old Traore arriving at Villa in August 2015 and says the progress he has made in the years since has stood the player in good stead.

"He had to polish other things. People have helped him and now he is showing that, having those characteristics, he will make differences for sure," said Gil.

"He still needs to improve little things, but he is called upon to make a difference."

Traore has attempted 207 dribbles in the Premier League this season, Opta statistics show.

That puts him second only to Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha on 255. However, Traore's dribble success rate of 69.57 per cent trounces Zaha's 53.33 per cent.

The pace and hustle of English football perhaps suits Traore better than LaLiga, Gil suspects.

"Yes, possibly, it is true. English football is maybe a more physical game and he is outstanding in that aspect," Gil said.

"It doesn't matter where he is because he will be outstanding in terms of fitness.

"Tactically, it is maybe not as good [in English football]; there are more spaces, something which benefits him.

"He prefers to have three rivals, but having loads of space, [rather] than one-on-one or two-on-one in a little space. It is more complicated for him. That's why maybe [English football] suits him better.

"Anyway, again, having those characteristics, if he improves other things, he is almost unstoppable."

After what will have been a three-month absence, the Premier League is set to restart on June 17.

The first games following the coronavirus pandemic will see Manchester City take on Arsenal and Aston Villa play Sheffield United, before a full round of fixtures begins on June 19.

Liverpool are a maximum of two wins away from clinching a first title in 30 years, though they could secure the trophy against Everton at Goodison Park on matchday 30 if City lose their first match back against Arsenal.

There is also plenty to play for in the race for European qualification and the battle against the drop.

We look at the outstanding 92 games in the 2019-20 Premier League season.

Matchday 28

Aston Villa v Sheffield United
Manchester City v Arsenal

Matchday 30

Aston Villa v Chelsea
Bournemouth v Crystal Palace
Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal
Everton v Liverpool
Manchester City v Burnley
Newcastle United v Sheffield United
Norwich City v Southampton
Tottenham v Manchester United
Watford v Leicester City
West Ham v Wolves

Matchday 31

Burnley v Watford
Chelsea v Manchester City
Leicester City v Brighton and Hove Albion
Liverpool v Crystal Palace
Manchester United v Sheffield United
Newcastle United v Aston Villa
Norwich City v Everton
Southampton v Arsenal
Tottenham v West Ham
Wolves v Bournemouth

Matchday 32

Arsenal v Norwich City
Aston Villa v Wolves
Bournemouth v Newcastle United
Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester United
Crystal Palace v Burnley
Everton v Leicester City
Manchester City v Liverpool
Sheffield United v Tottenham
Watford v Southampton
West Ham v Chelsea

Matchday 33

Burnley v Sheffield United
Chelsea v Watford
Leicester City v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Aston Villa
Manchester United v Bournemouth
Newcastle United v West Ham
Norwich City v Brighton and Hove Albion
Southampton v Manchester City
Tottenham v Everton
Wolves v Arsenal

Matchday 34

Arsenal v Leicester City
Aston Villa v Manchester United
Brighton and Hove Albion v Liverpool
Bournemouth v Tottenham
Crystal Palace v Chelsea
Everton v Southampton
Manchester City v Newcastle United
Sheffield United v Wolves
Watford v Norwich City
West Ham v Burnley

Matchday 35

Aston Villa v Crystal Palace
Bournemouth v Leicester City
Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester City
Liverpool v Burnley
Manchester United v Southampton
Norwich City v West Ham
Sheffield United v Chelsea
Tottenham v Arsenal
Watford v Newcastle United
Wolves v Everton

Matchday 36

Arsenal v Liverpool
Burnley v Wolves
Chelsea v Norwich City
Crystal Palace v Manchester United
Everton v Aston Villa
Leicester City v Sheffield United
Manchester City v Bournemouth
Newcastle United v Tottenham
Southampton v Brighton and Hove Albion
West Ham v Watford

Matchday 37

Aston Villa v Arsenal
Bournemouth v Southampton
Brighton and Hove Albion v Newcastle United
Liverpool v Chelsea
Manchester United v West Ham
Norwich City v Burnley
Sheffield United v Everton
Tottenham v Leicester City
Watford v Manchester City
Wolves v Crystal Palace

Matchday 38

Arsenal v Watford
Burnley v Brighton and Hove Albion
Chelsea v Wolves
Crystal Palace v Tottenham
Everton v Bournemouth
Leicester City v Manchester United
Manchester City v Norwich City
Newcastle United v Liverpool
Southampton v Sheffield United
West Ham v Aston Villa

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.

Liverpool are apparently seeking another option in attack and Wolves star Adama Traore is reportedly one of their targets.

The Premier League leaders have been heavily linked with a move for RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner.

However, they may instead be looking at a Premier League star.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL WANT TRAORE

Liverpool want to add Wolves attacker Traore this close season, according to The Sun.

Traore had scored four goals and provided seven assists in 28 Premier League games before this season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 24-year-old arrived in England from Barcelona in 2015, playing for Aston Villa and Middlesbrough before joining Wolves.

ROUND-UP

- Following reports Paris Saint-Germain had made a bid for Mauro Icardi, who is on loan at the club from Inter, it seems that may not be the case just yet. L'Equipe says PSG and Inter are still in negotiations over the forward, with the Ligue 1 side hoping to pay less than the €70million purchase option they hold.

- Samuel Umtiti's future at Barcelona remains unclear. Marca says the defender will not leave the LaLiga giants, while Sport reports Inter could be prepared to sign the centre-back.

- Manchester City and Barcelona could be set for a deal. The Sun reports City see Nelson Semedo as a good option to provide competition for Kyle Walker, while Joao Cancelo could be offered in a potential deal.

- On loan at Estudiantes, Marcos Rojo appears likely to leave Manchester United permanently. The Mirror says the Premier League club are hoping Boca Juniors and Estudiantes enter a bidding war for the 30-year-old.

- Everton are said to be interested in Jean-Clair Todibo, who is on loan at Schalke from Barcelona this season. Sport reports the Premier League club have offered £19.7million (€22m) plus £2.7m (€3m) in variables for the defender.

Could Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland move to Real Madrid in the same window?

Mbappe and Haaland are highly coveted by Zinedine Zidane and Madrid's hierarchy.

Zidane is reportedly keen on pairing Mbappe and Haaland with Eden Hazard in the Spanish capital.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID EYEING STAR DUO

Real Madrid will wait until 2021 to sign Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, according to the front page of Diario AS.

Madrid have been continually linked with moves for Mbappe and Haaland, though previous reports have claimed Los Blancos would target the former next year.

However, Monday's edition of Diario AS says Madrid are prepared to hold off until 2021 to ensure both players arrive at the Santiago Bernabeu.

ROUND-UP

- The Sunday Times says Juventus are interested in signing Wolves striker Raul Jimenez. The Mexico international is also reportedly wanted by Manchester United.

Barcelona and Juventus have verbally struck a deal on a multi-player transfer, reports Sport. Miralem Pjanic and Mattia De Sciglio plus €25million will move to Barca in exchange for Nelson Semedo. However, Sky Sport Italia claims Pjanic will only join Barca if Arthur moves the other way to Juve.

Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli is set to sign a contract renewal, according to Calciomercato. The Italy international defender's current deal is due to expire in 2022.

Liverpool are eyeing Real Sociedad defender Diego Llorente, reports La Razon. The 26-year-old is also wanted by Ligue 1's Monaco.

- FC Inter 1908 claims Inter are favourites to sign Brescia sensation Sandro Tonali. The midfielder has also been linked to Juventus, Manchester City and Barca.

Arsenal are looking at signing Amiens forward Serhou Guirassy, says the Daily Mail. West Ham and Bournemouth are also said to be interested.

- Le10Sport claims Paris Saint-Germain have joined the list of admirers of Lyon's Houssem Aouar, who has also been linked to United, City and Juve.

Sergino Dest is a player in demand. Mundo Deportivo says PSG are also interested in Ajax's 19-year-old United States star. Bayern Munich and Barca have been linked.

Liverpool are apparently looking at a Brazilian teenager who has drawn comparisons to Neymar, while Leroy Sane is set for a Manchester City exit.

Premier League leaders Liverpool are reportedly keen to strengthen this close season, albeit without spending huge amounts.

Sane, meanwhile, has been linked with Bayern Munich, and that move could be getting closer to reality.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL TARGET NEXT NEYMAR

Liverpool are targeting Vasco da Gama forward Talles Magno, according to the Mirror.

Talles, 17, has previously been likened to Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and is a Brazil youth international.

The teenager has already made 22 senior appearances for Vasco da Gama.

ROUND-UP

- Linked with Bayern Munich, Sane could get a move. The Evening Standard reports Manchester City are prepared to sell the Germany international if he refuses to sign an extension, with his contract expiring next year.

- Adrien Rabiot appears set for a Juventus exit. L'Equipe reports the midfielder wants to join Premier League outfit Everton.

- Manchester United and Wolves seemingly know what they will need to pay if they want Carlos Vinicius. The Mirror reports Benfica have told the Premier League clubs they must pay at least £89.4million (€100m) for the striker.

- On loan at Newcastle United from Inter, Valentino Lazaro could be set for a longer stay. The Sun reports Newcastle are in talks over a £21.25m (€23.8m) deal for the midfielder.

- Jeremy Sarmiento is catching the eye. The Sun reports the England youth and Benfica forward is a target for several clubs in Europe's top five leagues.

Barcelona and Juventus are getting close to an incredible exchange deal.

Miralem Pjanic has continued to be linked with a move to Camp Nou, although there has been uncertainty over how, and if, Barcelona could get a transfer done.

It seems they are on the verge of sealing a deal for the midfielder.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA, JUVENTUS CLOSE TO AGREEING EXCHANGE DEAL

Barcelona and Juventus are close to agreeing an exchange deal involving four players, according to Sport.

It says Pjanic and Mattia De Sciglio will join Barca, with Jean-Clair Todibo – who is on loan at Schalke this season – and Arturo Vidal or Ivan Rakitic heading to Turin.

Barcelona have also been linked with moves for Inter star Lautaro Martinez and Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar.

ROUND-UP

- Kingsley Coman is wanted by three of Europe's biggest clubs. Sky reports Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester City are interested in the Bayern Munich attacker.

- Linked with a move away from Tottenham, Tanguy Ndombele may be going nowhere. The Mirror says Spurs will not allow the midfielder, reportedly a target for Barcelona, to leave this close season.

- Another Spurs player, however, could leave. Tottenham defender Juan Foyth, who is contracted at the club until 2022, is being eyed by Barca, according to the Mirror.

- It seems Angel Gomes is leaving Manchester United. The Mirror claims Chelsea feel they are close to landing the midfielder, whose deal at Old Trafford expires at the end of June.

- Real Betis and Portugal midfielder William Carvalho is drawing plenty of attention. Diario de Sevilla reports Wolves are the latest club to join the race for Carvalho, who has been linked to Tottenham, Monaco, Leicester City and Watford previously.

Franck Kessie will likely remain at Milan for the foreseeable future as he and his agent remain confident in the Rossoneri's "project" despite reported interest from the Premier League.

Kessie, 23, is in his third season at San Siro having joined from Atalanta in 2017 and was enjoying a strong campaign before European football was brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ivory Coast international has polarised opinion among supporters during his time in Milan, but he is widely regarded to have been playing his best football at the club since Stefano Pioli's appointment as coach in October.

Arsenal, Wolves and West Ham are the Premier League clubs the box-to-box midfielder has been linked with, and as Milan look destined to miss out on Champions League football again, he might have been tempted into a move.

But his agent appears to have dashed the hopes of admirers, insisting they retain faith in how the club is developing.

"I remember that we joined Milan when they were a gamble, we did it because this is a club that has always meant a lot to us," George Atangana told Calciomercato.

Diogo Jota says it is of "major" importance to world football that the Premier League season is completed.

The Wolves forward is optimistic the campaign can avoid being closed down early, although he accepts behind-closed-doors games may be inevitable.

Most top-flight clubs had nine games remaining in the league when the coronavirus crisis meant the season had to be paused in March.

Wolves were sitting sixth, while they also have the Europa League to think about having reached the last 16.

Portugal international Jota has been an important figure in Nuno Espirito Santo's team and he hopes to soon be back in action.

He told BBC Sport: "I believe the Premier League can finish.

"We don't need to look to other countries. Each country has its own problems and has to deal with them individually.

“Although some leagues can end right away, others can start sooner. I know almost every country in the world has the Premier League as one of the leagues to watch, so it is major that we can finish the season.”

The Eredivisie called a halt to the 2019-20 season on Friday, with no champions, relegation or promotion, a decision that sparked an outcry from a number of clubs.

Most European leagues nevertheless appear hopeful of a resumption, and Jota can picture the scenario where the Premier League starts up again, albeit without spectators.

He said that given the choice of stopping the season or playing the remaining games behind closed doors, then "obviously we finish the season behind closed doors", but Jota stressed "everyone" would rather play in front of a crowd.

The 23-year-old added: "Maybe we need to go step by step and the first step is to play behind closed doors."

Adama Traore does not do any upper-body gym work to maintain his impressive physique, according to Wolves team-mate Conor Coady.

Traore has been one of the standout performers under Nuno Espirito Santo this season, with four goals and seven assists in 28 Premier League appearances.

The 24-year-old's pace and power make him one of the more formidable wingers in English football, and his physical attributes were noticed even as a youngster at Barcelona, when he attracted the interest of NFL scouts.

Coady claims Traore owes his muscular frame simply to doing power work on his legs, rather than his arms.

"He could've played NFL; he got offered when he was younger," Coady told Sky Sports. "He doesn't do any gym on his arms or his upper body. It's all power work on his legs to make him more powerful and explosive. He's rapid, he's some player.

"It's credit to him, and how proud he can be of himself. He's been fantastic for the team. You can see in his end product and the way he tracks back and defends properly and listens to the manager's ideas and takes it on board.

"It's credit to how hard he works. He's one of the most hard-working players I've seen and it's brilliant to have him at the club."

Wolves' challenge for a top-four finish and their run in the Europa League knockout phase has led to speculation Traore could be targeted by one of Europe's established elite clubs.

Stars such as Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez have also been linked with moves away from Molineux, but Coady hopes to call them team-mates for a while longer.

"I'm looking at the players around me, I'm not looking at myself, but the players around me I'm thinking, 'I hope this isn't the window' [they leave]," he said. "I'll be the same when the next window comes, whenever that is.

"Honestly, the satisfaction I get playing for Wolves, the players I'm playing with, I consider myself lucky because I've been there for a few years, and to see the players who have come through the door in the last few years is fantastic.

"I'm always thinking I hope this isn't the window where we lose a Ruben, a Joao [Moutinho], a [Diogo] Jota or an Adama. The way the club is at the moment, and the players and characters we've got in the dressing room, I wouldn't change it for the world."

The pause in the football calendar (except in Belarus, of course) gives players across Europe plenty of time to reflect on their efforts so far this season.

While some have a few things to work on when matches return, there are others for whom 2019-20 has been a showcase of the very best they have to offer.

In the latest piece in our series, we look at the best-performing forwards in the Bundesliga, LaLiga, Ligue 1, Premier League and Serie A.

Goals might be the most obvious (and fundamentally important) of metrics for these players, but the number of times the ball crosses that white line is not the only measure of their quality.

To that end, we have also examined seven other parameters: minutes-per-goal rate, shots on target, shooting accuracy, shot conversion rate, big chance conversion rate, dribbles completed and dribble success rate. And these are for those players to make at least 10 league appearances this season, to avoid any unfair imbalance in the results (we're looking at you, Florin Andone).

Without further ado, we present the most ruthless forwards elite-level football in Europe has to offer...

THE MOST RUTHLESS FORWARDS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

 

BUNDESLIGA:

Most goals scored: Robert Lewandowski (25)
Best minutes-per-goal rate (Min. five goals scored): Robert Lewandowski (81.7)
Most shots on target: Robert Lewandowski (55)
Best shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Marcus Thuram (76.3 per cent)
Best shot conversion rate (Min. five goals scored): Paco Alcacer (35.7 per cent)
Best big chance conversion rate (Min. five big chances): Rouwen Hennings (71.4 per cent)
Most dribbles completed: Marcus Thuram (57)
Best dribbles success rate (Min. 10 completed): Lucas Alario (83.3 per cent)

LALIGA:

Most goals scored: Lionel Messi (19)
Best minutes-per-goal rate (Min. five goals scored): Lionel Messi (99.5)
Most shots on target: Lionel Messi (55)
Best shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Lionel Messi (68.9 per cent)
Best shot conversion rate (Min. five goals scored): Lucas Perez (40.7 per cent)
Best big chance conversion rate (Min. five big chances): Charles (83.3 per cent)
Most dribbles completed: Lionel Messi (118)
Best dribbles success rate (Min. 10 completed): Pione Sisto (76.9 per cent)

LIGUE 1:

Most goals scored: Kylian Mbappe and Wissam Ben Yedder (18)
Best minutes-per-goal rate (Min. five goals scored): Kylian Mbappe (84.1)
Most shots on target: Kylian Mbappe (49)
Best shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Kasper Dolberg (78.1 per cent)
Best shot conversion rate (Min. five goals scored): Mauro Icardi (37.5 per cent)
Best big chance conversion rate (Min. five big chances): Moussa Dembele (72.2 per cent)
Most dribbles completed: Neymar (90)
Best dribbles success rate (Min. 10 completed): Zaydou Youssouf (85.7 per cent)

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Most goals scored: Jamie Vardy (19)
Best minutes-per-goal rate (Min. five goals scored): Sergio Aguero (87.6)
Most shots on target: Mohamed Salah (43)
Best shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Anthony Martial (68.2 per cent)
Best shot conversion rate (Min. five goals scored): Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (36.2 per cent)
Best big chance conversion rate (Min. five big chances): Harry Kane (70 per cent)
Most dribbles completed: Adama Traore (144)
Best dribbles success rate (Min. 10 completed): Billy Sharp (86.7 per cent)

SERIE A:

Most goals scored: Ciro Immobile (27)
Best minutes-per-goal rate (Min. five goals scored): Luis Muriel (70.2)
Most shots on target: Cristiano Ronaldo (53)
Best shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Romelu Lukaku (65.5 per cent)
Best shot conversion rate (Min. five goals scored): Ante Rebic (42.9 per cent)
Best big chance conversion rate (Min. five big chances): Felipe Caicedo (85.7 per cent)
Most dribbles completed: Jeremie Boga (106)
Best dribbles success rate (Min. 10 completed): Sergio Floccari (72.2 per cent)

AND THE TOP EIGHT:

Most goals scored: Ciro Immobile (27)
Best minutes-per-goal rate (Min. five goals scored): Luis Muriel (70.2)
Most shots on target: Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski (55)
Best shooting accuracy (Min. 30 shots): Kasper Dolberg (78.1 per cent)
Best shot conversion rate (Min. five goals scored): Ante Rebic (42.9 per cent)
Best big chance conversion rate (Min. five big chances): Felipe Caicedo (85.7 per cent)
Most dribbles completed: Adama Traore (144)
Best dribbles success rate (Min. 10 completed): Billy Sharp (86.7 per cent)

As the world continues to battle against the coronavirus pandemic, football fans across the globe face another weekend scratching around for something to fill the void.

The domestic calendar in England has been halted in a bid to reduce social gatherings and the Premier League has confirmed its fixtures will not resume at the start of May.

While we cannot say for sure how this weekend's Premier League fixtures would have gone, our friends at Opta have come up with a system to predict the outcomes.

What chance would your team have had? Take a look below.

Predictor explainer:

The Opta Predictor estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) given each team's attacking and defensive quality. The team's attacking and defensive qualities are based on four years of historic results, with more weighting given to their most recent results. The model will take into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes against and reward them accordingly.

ASTON VILLA v WOLVES

Home win: 27 per cent
Draw: 28 per cent
Away win: 45 per cent

Struggling Aston Villa were rated as unlikely to get a key victory in their battle against relegation in their scheduled fixture at home to Wolves. A home win is the least likely of the three results, with Villa having lost five straight matches across all competitions. Top-four chasing Wolves have only won five of 14 top-flight away games this season, but are backed to pick up a sixth here.

BOURNEMOUTH v NEWCASTLE UNITED

Home win: 39 per cent
Draw: 29 per cent
Away win: 32 per cent

The predictor percentages for this match are all in a very close range across the three results, indicating how hard it would have been to call. Home advantage sees Bournemouth, who sit in the bottom three, rated as narrow favourites, as they were bidding to end a four-match winless run against a Newcastle side sitting five places and eight points above them.

ARSENAL v NORWICH CITY

Home win: 67 per cent
Draw: 21 per cent
Away win: 12 per cent

The predictor rated Arsenal versus Norwich City as the most one-sided match of the week, with the Gunners given a massive 67% chance of victory. No other team got over the 50% mark. Three straight wins boosted Mikel Arteta's men prior to the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Meanwhile, bottom-of-the-table Norwich only have one win in 15 away attempts in this season's Premier League.

BRIGHTON v MANCHESTER UNITED

Home win: 25 per cent win
Draw: 29 per cent
Away win: 46 per cent

Of the 10 away teams in action, Manchester United were rated as the second-most likely to earn victory in their contest at Brighton and Hove Albion. Prior to the halt in football, United had closed within three points of Chelsea in the race for fourth place, while struggling Brighton are still yet to win a match in 2020.

CRYSTAL PALACE v BURNLEY

Home win: 41 per cent
Draw: 30 per cent
Away win: 29 per cent

No game in this match week was rated as more likely to end in a draw than the mid-table battle between Crystal Palace and Burnley at Selhurst Park. Sitting 10th and 11th, Palace and Burnley are level on points and also have the same goal difference, with Sean Dyche's side only ahead in the table due to goals scored. It is Roy Hodgson's hosts who would have gone into the clash with a narrow advantage in win probability.

WATFORD v SOUTHAMPTON

Home win: 39 per cent
Draw: 29 per cent
Away win: 32 per cent

Another tight match would have seen Watford host Southampton as Nigel Pearson's side continue their battle against relegation. Playing at home and with a win over Liverpool in their last contest at Vicarage Road, they would have gone in as very slight favourites, but Saints sit seven points better off and this is another that goes down as too close to call. 

SHEFFIELD UNITED v TOTTENHAM

Home win: 32 per cent
Draw: 30 per cent
Away win: 38 per cent

A game between two teams chasing a European place, Sheffield United and Tottenham, was the one the predictor had significant trouble calling a winner for. At 30%, it is tied with the Palace v Burnley contest as the most likely draw of the weekend. Interestingly, Spurs – who have not won for six games - do go in with a better chance of victory despite the contest being held at Bramall Lane and Sheffield United, by contrast, being on a six-match unbeaten run.

WEST HAM v CHELSEA

Home win: 25 per cent
Draw: 27 per cent
Away win: 48 per cent

Of the 10 away teams, Chelsea are given the best chance of victory in their match on the road against West Ham. Frank Lampard's men thumped Everton 4-0 before the break in action and are given a 48% chance of following that up with a win over their London rivals West Ham, who are on a poor run of one win in 10 games.

MANCHESTER CITY v LIVERPOOL

Home win: 46 per cent
Draw: 27 per cent
Away win: 27 per cent

Unquestionably the biggest match of this week was due to be second-placed Manchester City's clash with runaway league leaders Liverpool. After an almost perfect season, Jurgen Klopp's men had finally started to show some vulnerability prior to the suspension of action. They had lost three of their last four games in all competitions and the predictor believes they were most likely to go down to another defeat here, although surely it would not have been enough to derail their title bid.

EVERTON v LEICESTER CITY

Home win: 36 per cent
Draw: 29 per cent
Away win: 35 per cent

The closest match of the week is the game that was going to be the Monday night contest between Everton and Leicester City. The predictor can hardly split the two teams, with Everton given a 36% chance of winning, compared to 35% for the Foxes. Of the teams who are favourites, Carlo Ancelotti's men have the lowest percentage. They would have come into the game having collected only one point from three games, but those were against Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea. Leicester are third but without a win in three top-flight away fixtures.

Real Madrid have seemingly set their sights on Eduardo Camavinga, and it may be one of several changes at the LaLiga club.

Camavinga, 17, has been linked to several European giants after impressing for Rennes.

The teenage midfielder is a target for Madrid, who could be set for sweeping changes in the close season.

 

TOP STORY – CAMAVINGA THE PREFERENCE FOR REAL MADRID

Camavinga is the preference for Real Madrid as it is likely to prove tough to land Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, according to Marca.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is also keen to avoid becoming too reliant on Casemiro, the report says.

Camavinga has made 25 Ligue 1 appearances for Rennes this season, including 24 starts.

ROUND-UP

- It may be just one of several changes at Real Madrid. AS reports there must be exits if players are to come in, with James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale, Lucas Vazquez and Mariano Diaz potentially leaving. The futures of Nacho Fernandez, Marcelo, Luka Modric and Brahim Diaz are also uncertain.

- Staying at Real Madrid and AS reports the coronavirus pandemic may impact what the club do with Martin Odegaard. The Norway international was expected to spend another season on loan at Real Sociedad but could return ahead of the next campaign as clubs become stricter with their finances.

- Diego Costa has scored just twice in 19 games for Atletico Madrid this season and could be set for a move. Sport reports Roma are interested in the 31-year-old forward.

- Achraf Hakimi appears likely to return to Real Madrid from his loan at Borussia Dortmund. However, the Mirror reports Chelsea have enquired about the defender.

- After impressing with Wolves in the Premier League, Raul Jimenez is attracting interest. Sport reports the Mexico forward could return to LaLiga, with Real Madrid and former club Atletico Madrid interested.

- Out of contract at the end of the season, Pedro is poised to leave Chelsea. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports Lazio are interested in the attacker.

Rumours linking Neymar to Barcelona refuse to subside.

Neymar left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222million transfer in 2017, but the Brazilian star wants to move back to Camp Nou.

Barca are desperate to make it happen by any means necessary.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA TO INVOKE CLAUSE IN NEYMAR PURSUIT

Barcelona are plotting an audacious plan to re-sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain, according to ESPN.

The report says LaLiga champions could invoke a little-known FIFA clause – Article 17 – in order to lure Neymar back to Camp Nou.

Article 17 states that players can leave their contracts "without just cause" once the three-year protection period ends.

 

ROUND-UP

Marc-Andre ter Stegen to leave Barca? The Germany international has been in contract negotiations with the Spanish giants, however, Sport says he is being tempted by Bayern Munich.

- Sport also claims that Barca have put Antoine Griezmann on the transfer market. It comes as Barca look to sign Inter's Lautaro Martinez at the end of the season, while keeping costs down amid the coronavirus pandemic. Manchester United, PSG, Chelsea and Arsenal are possible suitors for Griezmann. The same publication reports Barca's stars have agreed to take a pay cut to help the club deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Real Madrid are interested in signing Wolves striker Raul Jimenez, AS reports. Madrid are eyeing a striker with Karim Benzema ageing and big-money recruit Luka Jovic so far failing to convince Zinedine Zidane. Mexico international Jimenez previously spent a year at Atletico Madrid in 2014-15.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Arsenal and Tottenham are set to rival Serie A side Lazio for Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren.

- With Lovren set to leave, AS suggests Liverpool have lined up three possible replacements – RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, Atletico Madrid defender Jose Maria Gimenez and Inter's Alessandro Bastoni.

- Calciomercato says Mauro Icardi – on loan at PSG from Inter – wants to return to Italy at the end of the season amid strong links to Juventus. The Argentina striker is also open to joining Madrid.

Inter are working on a renewal to tie down star midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, reports Tuttosport. The Croatia international is contracted until 2022.

Juve, United and Barca are all tracking PSG's highly rated 17-year-old Edouard Michut, according to Calciomercato.

As the world continues to battle against the coronavirus pandemic, football fans across the globe face another weekend scratching around for something to fill the void.

The domestic calendar in England was halted last week in a bid to reduce social gatherings and the Football Association confirmed its leagues would not return until at least the end of April.

While we cannot say for sure how this weekend's Premier League fixtures would have gone, our friends at Opta have come up with a system to predict the outcomes.

What chance would your team have had? Take a look below.

 

Predictor explainer:

The Opta Predictor estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) given each team's attacking and defensive quality. The team's attacking and defensive qualities are based on four years of historic results, with more weighting given to their most recent results. The model will take into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes against and reward them accordingly.


 

BURNLEY v WATFORD

Home win: 49 per cent
Draw: 26 per cent
Away win: 25 per cent

Watford may have handed Liverpool their first defeat of the Premier League season, but with just one victory in their past three visits to Turf Moor it is Burnley who are expected to win by the predictor. Sean Dyche's side have gone unbeaten in seven top-flight matches to move into a more comfortable position in the middle of the table.

CHELSEA v MANCHESTER CITY

Home win: 30 per cent
Draw: 24 per cent
Away win: 46 per cent

Manchester City are the pick to prevail at Stamford Bridge, a ground where Pep Guardiola has lost on two of his three Premier League visits. Kevin De Bruyne's winner in September 2017 fired City's charge to a 100-point title romp but goals from N'Golo Kante and David Luiz saw the Blues hand Guardiola's men the first league defeat of their triumphant 2018-19 campaign. Kante and De Bruyne were both on target when the sides met at the Etihad Stadium back in November, before Riyad Mahrez sealed a 2-1 comeback win for the hosts.

LEICESTER CITY v BRIGHTON

Home win: 62 per cent
Draw: 22 per cent
Away win: 16 per cent

Brighton won at Arsenal back in December, but that was just one of two away victories for the Seagulls so far in the Premier League this season, so their prospects at Leicester were inevitably looking bleak. After a worrying slump, Leicester looked to have rediscovered their mojo by the time the league ground to a halt, with Jamie Vardy back on the goal trail following a drought. Leicester’s nine wins at the King Power Stadium this term looked highly likely to become 10.

LIVERPOOL v CRYSTAL PALACE

Home win: 76 per cent win
Draw: 16 per cent
Away win: 8 per cent

A predicted triumph for Liverpool at Anfield is by no means a surprise given they are on a top-flight record of 22 straight home wins. With just an eight per cent chance of winning, Palace had the lowest chance of victory in this round of fixtures. However, with City predicted to come out on top against Chelsea, the Reds' wait to clinch the Premier League title would have continued.

MANCHESTER UNITED v SHEFFIELD UNITED

Home win: 48 per cent
Draw: 30 per cent
Away win: 22 per cent

The halt in football action came at a bad time for Manchester United, who were on a magnificent roll - 11 matches unbeaten with eight victories. The Opta predictor backed the hosts to continue that run, but at 48 per cent, a home win was seen as far from a certainty. Amid an amazing season, Sheffield United are just two points behind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men and at 30 per cent, it is the most likely contest on the matchday to end in a draw. That was also the outcome in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Bramall Lane in November.

NEWCASTLE UNITED v ASTON VILLA

Home win: 54 per cent
Draw: 24 per cent
Away win: 22 per cent

The predicted win for Newcastle is something Aston Villa – second from bottom and 10 points shy of Steve Bruce's men – could ill afford in reality. Newcastle are unbeaten in five matches at St James' Park, although that run includes three consecutive 0-0 draws. Villa have lost four in succession in the Premier League and only won three times in the top flight since beating the Magpies 2-0 in the corresponding fixture on November 25.

NORWICH CITY v EVERTON

Home win: 28 per cent
Draw: 26 per cent
Away win: 46 per cent

Norwich prop up the Premier League table and the predictor reflects as such, with Everton having a greater chance of victory on the road. The Toffees' last win at Carrow Road came in 2004, though, and Everton were beaten 2-0 at home by Daniel Farke's side back in November, Todd Cantwell and Dennis Srbeny with the goals at Goodison Park.

SOUTHAMPTON v ARSENAL

Home win: 28 per cent
Draw: 24 per cent
Away win: 48 per cent

Southampton’s resurgence during December and January had given way to a worrying patch of form over February and early March. Ralph Hasenhuttl's men did beat Aston Villa at home, but this Arsenal side under Mikel Arteta’s leadership are a different prospect to the team Saints held 2-2 in north London back in November. The Gunners are unbeaten in the Premier League in 2020, and they would have fancied claiming all three points on offer at St Mary's.

TOTTENHAM v WEST HAM

Home win: 70 per cent
Draw: 17 per cent
Away win: 13 per cent

The Hammers were not predicted to fare particularly well at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but they did defy the odds with a 1-0 win at the same venue in April 2019, Michail Antonio scoring the winner. Tottenham were the victors in the reverse fixture this season, a 3-2 triumph in Jose Mourinho's first match in charge.

WOLVES V BOURNEMOUTH

Home win: 58 per cent
Draw: 23 per cent
Away win: 19 per cent

Wolves are unbeaten in all three of their Premier League matches against Bournemouth, including a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture, and the predictor has them as the more likely winners on this matchday. That would come as a welcome relief to Wolves, who have won just one of their last five home top-flight matches, while Eddie Howe's men would be primed for a seventh consecutive away loss.

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