Eric Bailly has signed a new contract to keep him at Manchester United until at least June 2024.

Bailly's previous deal was deal was due to expire at the end of next season, but the 27-year-old defender has agreed terms to extend his stay.

The Ivory Coast centre-back, who has the option of a further 12-month extension on his new contract, has made only 15 appearances in another injury-hit season for United and is eager to but those troubles behind him.

"I'm very happy. This decision is something I didn't have to think about, I love this club and I love playing for Manchester United," Bailly said.

"I'm happy and so are my family, everything is good. Now the moment with my injury has passed and I'm fit and feel good, and that's it. A new contract is like a new challenge and I'm ready for this."

A week on from the drama, controversy and anger surrounding the European Super League, it felt like football – rather than its potential ruin – was at the front of the agenda this weekend.

However, the spectre of the Super League continued to loom over much of the action, with many of the so-called "big six" seeing it used as a stick to beat them with as they largely stuttered to underwhelming results.

Of those in league action over the weekend (Manchester City beat Tottenham in the EFL Cup final), only Chelsea emerged victorious, as Manchester United and Liverpool were held, while Arsenal lost at home to Everton.

Using Opta data, we look at some of the quirky facts from the latest Premier League matches…

Liverpool 1-1 Newcastle United: Reds to join exclusive list?

It was another underwhelming weekend for defending champions Liverpool, as their 1-1 draw at home to struggling Newcastle United saw them lose further ground in the fight for Champions League places.

Jurgen Klopp's men are four points adrift of Chelsea in fourth, after the Blues beat top-four rivals West Ham 1-0 at the London Stadium.

Liverpool have five matches to close the gap otherwise they face the prospect of an ignominious achievement.

Only five times before have the reigning Premier League champions failed to qualify for the Champions League the season after winning the title.

Manchester United were the first in 1994-95, also doing so in 2013-14. The other teams do this were Blackburn Rovers (1995-96), Chelsea (2015-16) and Leicester City (2016-17).

Wolves 0-4 Burnley: Wood and New Zealand join the United Nations of hat-tricks

Chris Wood enjoyed a weekend to remember as he netted his first Premier League hat-trick in Burnley's 4-0 win over Wolves.

In doing so, he became the first New Zealand national to score a treble in the competition, meaning there have been hat-tricks scored by 46 countries in the Premier League.

New Zealand has joined Gabon, South Korea, Venezuela, DR Congo, Japan, Israel, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Paraguay, Iceland, Sweden, Costa Rica and Serbia on one.

England, unsurprisingly, leads the way with 154 hat-tricks from 69 individuals. Joint second with 18 each are Netherlands and Argentina, while France (17) and Spain (11) are the only other countries into double figures.

Leeds United 0-0 Manchester United: 'Boring, boring Man United'

Fans expecting a repeat of Manchester United's 6-2 thrashing of Leeds United will have been sorely disappointed, not just with the 0-0 draw, but also given it was a fairly drab encounter.

Sure, United have excited on occasion this season, that previous win over Leeds and the 9-0 demolition of Southampton immediately coming to mind.

But Sunday's stalemate was United's seventh 0-0 draw of the season, more than any other team in the Premier League.

On top of that, 2020-21 has now seen United play out more goalless draws than any other Premier League season.

They previously played out six in 2004-05 and 2016-17, but 2020-21 now leads the way.

West Ham 0-1 Chelsea: Tuchel's at home on the road

Thomas Tuchel has made a fine impression at Chelsea since replacing Frank Lampard in January. The achievements seem to be piling up.

Chelsea's latest win saw them leave London rivals West Ham with a 1-0 win that moved them back into the top four at the expense of David Moyes' boys.

As such, he became the first Chelsea manager to avoid defeat in his first 10 away games across all competitions.

The previous club record was set by William Lewis over 100 years ago in 1906-07, when they went nine unbeaten on the road.

Tuchel also matched the record set by Luiz Felipe Scolari for the number of clean sheets (10) in his first 14 Premier League matches.

What's even more impressive about that is it's a league record, rather than just relevant to Chelsea.

Zinedine Zidane says the idea of Real Madrid being banned from the Champions League for their part in the attempted European Super League breakaway is "absurd".

Madrid were among the 12 founding clubs of the competition that was announced earlier this month, with club president Florentino Perez installed as the Super League's chairman.

But last week, within 48 hours of the plans being confirmed, the six English clubs involved all withdrew, and they were soon followed by Atletico Madrid, Inter and Milan. Juventus remain supportive of the Super League but did acknowledge the collapse of the initial proposal.

Madrid and Barcelona have been defiant since, however, adamant their plans still have merit and are not completely dead.

UEFA is threatening to punish all of the 12, but the English clubs withdrawing early could earn them some leniency, though Zidane is not worried about the idea of Madrid being barred from the Champions League next term.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's semi-final first leg with Chelsea, Zidane said: "You have already asked me about all this and I have already answered.

"It is absurd to think that we will not be in the Champions League. There is a lot of talk from outside. There is going to be a lot of talk, but we don't control it, I just focus on the game.

"But my opinion is that we all want to see Madrid in the Champions League."

It was also put to Zidane that UEFA's stance could potentially be reflected by the officials being harsh on Madrid against Chelsea.

"The referee is going to do his job and we are going to play football," he replied. "We just have to think about that.

"If we start to think that what is being said is going to harm us, we are screwed. We are going to compete from minute one to 90. The rest, we don't get involved in."

The Champions League fixture follows a tricky LaLiga title tussle for Madrid, whose 0-0 draw with Real Betis on Saturday seeing them miss out on going top of the table.

With leaders Atletico losing to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday and Sevilla beating Granada, just three points separate top from fourth in what is shaping up to be the most thrilling title race in years, but Zidane insists Madrid will not be giving one competition priority over the other.

"We are not going to choose. We are alive in both competitions," he added. "We have had a lot of difficulties this year, but we have always been able to lift ourselves.

"There is a month left and we are going to compete until the end. There is no other thought in my head.

"What we want to do is give everything on the field, without thinking that winning will not be possible."

Does a Premier League switch beckon for Raphael Varane?

Varane has starred for Real Madrid, winning LaLiga and Champions League titles.

But Varane could be sacrificed in the Spanish capital, with Chelsea reportedly interested.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA FRONTRUNNERS FOR VARANE

Chelsea are ahead of Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain in the race to sign Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Varane has been linked with a move away from Madrid, who are looking to raise funds as they target PSG star Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

United have reportedly emerged as strong suitors but Chelsea are believed to be at the front of the queue to land the France international.

 

ROUND-UP

- Goal, Sport1 and other outlets report Bayern Munich have opened talks with RB Leipzig to hire head coach Julian Nagelsmann. With Hansi Flick set to depart at season's end, Nagelsmann is wanted in Munich.

Jose Mourinho is ready to return to Inter should Nerazzurri boss Antonio Conte exit, claims Calciomercato. Conte is poised to lead Inter to their first Scudetto since 2009-10, when Mourinho oversaw a treble, but the former Italy coach's future is far from certain. Mourinho is available after he was sacked by Tottenham.

- According to Gol Digital, Atletico Madrid are considering a move for Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta.

Roma are targeting Maurizio Sarri as their next head coach, says Corriere dello Sport. Paulo Fonseca is currently at the helm but he is under pressure in the Italian capital. Roma have reportedly already met with ex-Chelsea, Juventus and Napoli coach Sarri to discuss finer details.

Milan have given star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma one month to decide on a contract extension, reports Tuttosport. Donnarumma is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and the Italy international is yet to re-sign. The likes of United, Chelsea, Juventus, PSG and Madrid have been linked. Milan are reportedly eyeing Lille's Mike Maignan as a possible replacement.

- Bild claims Arsenal are lining up a move for Dortmund's Julian Brandt as a replacement for loanee Martin Odegaard, who is attracting interest from elsewhere. Brandt could be one of many Dortmund players to leave in the off-season as clubs circle Haaland, including Manchester City, Liverpool, Barcelona, United, Chelsea, PSG and Bayern.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted his team will not be impacted by protests against the club's owners and the European Super League ahead of a defining week at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer's Red Devils were held to a 0-0 draw by rivals Leeds United in Premier League action at Elland Road on Sunday.

The pre-match build-up had been centred on the Super League controversy, which has fuelled an already negative view on Manchester United's owners – the Glazer family.

The breakaway competition, which sought to establish a closed-shop competition featuring 12 of the continent's elite clubs – including United – collapsed 48 hours after its launch, in the face of widespread opposition.

United fans have continued to protest against the Glazer family, with a plane trailing a banner – "2bn stolen – Glazers out' – flying over Elland Road prior to kick-off on Sunday.

As United look ahead to Thursday's opening leg of their Europa League semi-final against Roma, followed by a showdown against bitter rivals Liverpool on Sunday, Solskjaer was asked if the protests would distract the players for the remainder of the season.

"I'm really happy with the boys' focus. They have such a determination to finish the season strong," Solskjaer told reporters as United sit second in the Premier League, 10 points behind leaders Manchester City and 13 points clear of sixth-placed Liverpool.

"Of course, the European disappointment of the last game of last season [against Sevilla in the Europa League], that still sticks in their minds and hearts.

"We're very, very focused to do well against Roma [UEL semi-final] and, of course, we've got Liverpool in between so we're not worried about [the protests] at all."

United are unbeaten in their last 24 Premier League away games (W15 D9), with only Arsenal between April 2003 and September 2004 (27) having a longer such run in English top-flight history.

"It's a really good achievement, no matter if there's fans or no fans," Solskjaer said. "With the 24 game [streak] without defeat, I think the players have prepared well for these games. We travel, the work by the coaches for every game is really, really good and planned down to a tee.

"I've got to say, we hope it continues because we've got a lot of big games coming up. We want to take as many points as possible."

United are on track to finish second this season, with the Red Devils eight points clear of Leicester City – who have a match in hand.

However, United's wait for Premier League glory is set to continue, having not hoisted the trophy aloft since 2012-13.

"We've taken baby steps in the way we play, in the way we train, in the fitness," added Solskjaer. "The coaches, the work that has been done on the training ground has been planned. We have been able to put down layer by layer by layer, as I said, and now we feel confident going into every game, trusting our way of playing.

"That's a big thing for us, knowing that whoever we play against, we have our own way of dealing with the opponent. Of course, there's little tweaks here and there but with an addition or two, we'll keep on strengthening this squad and keep on training hard.

"I've not seen many teams, in the second half, dominate as much as we did against Leeds. They're so fit, strong, they steam roller teams but we almost did that to them in the second half."

United have drawn seven league games nil-nil this season – only in 1980-81 (eight) have they been involved in more goalless draws in a single league campaign. The Red Devils have the most goalless draws of any side in the Premier League this term.

"Compared to last season, we've won a few more tight games," said Solskjaer. "We've won many games towards the end of the game, I think our fitness has been really good. Second half, we looked strong, like athletes. I really liked what I saw out there. We dominated, played in their half, kept them away from our goal, or even from our half really.

"So really happy with that but today we just didn't have the moments, we didn't take them when we had them. A draw is disappointing because we wanted to put pressure on Manchester City, but unfortunately we couldn't score."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer felt a dominant Manchester United performance just lacked a cutting edge in Sunday's 0-0 draw with Leeds United.

The Red Devils had won the reverse fixture 6-2 at Old Trafford back in December but there was to be no repeat of that high-scoring affair in the April sunshine at Elland Road.

A Marcus Rashford free-kick forced a smart save out of Illan Meslier in the first half, while Bruno Fernandes dragged a glorious opportunity wide not long after the interval.

The visitors had 16 attempts but managed to get just four on target, meaning a five-match winning run in the Premier League ground to a halt, pushing Manchester City a step closer to the title.

"I thought we played well. I thought we played really well," Solskjaer told Sky Sports after a seventh goalless draw in the league this season - only in 1980-81 have the club been involved in more.

"In the second half, I thought we dominated. We didn't really give any chances away, just didn't have the ball fall for us correctly. We had some decent chances but, unfortunately, couldn't take them.

"When two teams meet, you create problems and you solve problems. The opposition gives you things to think about and I think also we made them adjust to us, and we had to adjust to them because they are a unique team.

"I thought we did that really well. We put a really big shift down, worked hard. So many times I've seen Leeds run over teams in the second half, but I thought it was quite the opposite for us.

"Up until the last 18 yards, that's where we stopped. The quality, or the decision-making, let us down.

"Of course we are disappointed that we don't get three points, but I think the boys know they put a shift down and they really have a lot of respect for how Leeds play, plus the results they have had lately."

Leeds were restricted to only six shots in the match, their joint-fewest in a league game at Elland Road under Marcelo Bielsa.

The result also sees Solskjaer's squad extend their unbeaten league run on the road to 24 games, just three shy of Arsenal's record top-flight run of 27 between April 2003 and September 2004.

Manchester United are next in action on Thursday, hosting Roma at Old Trafford in the first leg of the Europa League semi-final.

Manchester United saw a five-match winning run in the Premier League come to a halt as they had to settle for a 0-0 draw at Leeds United on Sunday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side had been far too hot for their trans-Pennine rivals to handle in the December meeting at Old Trafford, Scott McTominay scoring twice inside the opening three minutes in a stunning 6-2 triumph.

However, a first league trip to Elland Road since October 2003 failed to provide anywhere near the same level of drama and excitement.

The Red Devils do extend their unbeaten away run in the Premier League to 24 games – Arsenal's domestic top-flight record of 27 is well within their sights – but the draw leaves them 10 points behind leaders Manchester City, who could now clinch the title as soon as next weekend.

Angus Kinnear provided more entertainment in his programme notes than a tepid first half played out in pleasant late-April sunshine, Leeds' CEO having heavily criticising the "self-proclaimed big six" of English football for their involvement in the breakaway European Super League.

Illan Meslier reacted quickly to turn away a powerfully struck Marcus Rashford free-kick, while the only attempt on target for the hosts before the interval saw Stuart Dallas shoot straight at Dean Henderson.

Leeds felt a penalty should have been awarded when a Jack Harrison cross struck Luke Shaw on the arm, but a check by video assistant referee Mike Dean ruled it not to be deliberate.

Bruno Fernandes – closely watched for much of the game by Kalvin Phillips – dragged an attempt wide of the target following good work by Aaron Wan-Bissaka as the visitors showed greater urgency after the interval.

Edinson Cavani was introduced late on to bolster the attack but there was no breakthrough, Leeds again showing they can compete with those connected to the failed Super League having previously drawn at home this season with Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and champions-elect City.

Leeds United CEO Angus Kinnear has heavily criticised the "self-proclaimed big six" in the Premier League for their involvement in a breakaway European competition, branding the "deeply cynical" plan a betrayal of every true football supporter.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham were all part of a 12-club group that launched the Super League last Sunday.

The proposal included the agreement that the six English clubs, as well as fellow founding members Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter, Juventus, Milan and Real Madrid, would qualify each year for the competition, regardless of performances in their domestic leagues.

However, a widespread backlash led to the collapse of the competition inside 48 hours of the initial announcement. The Premier League contingent all withdrew on Tuesday, though UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has made clear there will still be consequences for getting involved.

Ahead of hosting Manchester United at Elland Road on Sunday, Kinnear lambasted Leeds' domestic rivals in his programme notes.

"The fact that the whole Leeds fan-base has been united by the brilliantly impassioned words of Gary Neville illustrates how desperate the plight of European football became this week," Kinnear wrote.

"A fortnight ago we left the Etihad with an instinct that Manchester City didn't take well to being humbled by lowly Leeds United, but we could never have predicted that it would be the catalyst for them creating their own league where they would never have to be inconvenienced with the spectre of on-pitch failure again.

"The audacity of a resurgent Leeds United, an ambitious Aston Villa, a brilliantly managed Leicester City, a Champions League-bound West Ham United and an Everton with bold stadium plans have clearly overwhelmed the self-proclaimed 'big six'.

"The timing of their plan combined with the turmoil of a global pandemic was not coincidental, it was deeply cynical, and the clandestine plotting of fellow Premier League shareholders made it all the more seditious.

"Whether the collective intent was a genuine move to breakaway or the act of playground bullies seeking negotiating leverage at European and domestic level by threatening to take their ball home is irrelevant. The result was a betrayal of every true football supporter. However, this astonishing ingordigiousness has been the unexpected catalyst of creating a furious unity across nations, leagues, players, owners and fans.

"I was proud to see Leeds United and Liverpool supporters stand shoulder to shoulder in protest before a game which once again showed we are already in a Super League and making it all the more bizarre that, in the world envisioned by Liverpool's ownership, the same fixture would have been a meaningless dead rubber."

Fans protested outside Elland Road on Monday ahead of Leeds' home fixture with Liverpool – a game that finished 1-1 after Diego Llorente dented the visitors' top-four hopes with a late equaliser.

The hosts had warmed up prior to the game wearing shirts that read "Earn it" – in reference to the Reds' bid to qualify for the Champions League – and "Football is for the fans". There was also a sign saying the same stationed behind one of the goals inside the stadium.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has made clear the 12 European Super League clubs must face the consequences for their involvement in the planned breakaway competition.

Less than 48 hours after the official announcement of the tournament, and following a huge public backlash to the plan, the 'big six' from the Premier League – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – all ended their involvement.

Ceferin has praised the English clubs for a willingness to admit they made a mistake, but that will not mean they avoid punishment – albeit it is unclear yet what action the governing body will take.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, the UEFA chief revealed how he has placed the teams in different tiers while comparing Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid to those who believe Earth is flat, with that trio still remaining aligned to the initial proposal.

"Everyone has to take consequences for what they did and we cannot pretend nothing happened," Ceferin told the newspaper.

"You cannot do something like that and just say: 'I've been punished because everybody hates me'. They don't have problems because of anyone else but themselves. It's not okay what they did and we will see in next few days what we have to do.

"But for me it's a clear difference between the English clubs and the other six. They pulled out first, they admitted they made a mistake. You have to have some greatness to say: 'I was wrong'.

"For me there are three groups of this 12 — the English six, who went out first, then the other three [Atletico Madrid, Inter and Milan] after them and then the ones who feel that Earth is flat and they think the Super League still exists. And there is a big difference between those.

"But everyone will be held responsible. In what way, we will see. I don't want to say disciplinary process but it has to be clear that everyone has to be held responsible in a different way.

"Is it disciplinary? Is it the decision of the executive committee? We will see. It's too early to say."

There was widespread condemnation of the Super League from fans, governing bodies and former players alike, leading to financial backers JP Morgan to admit they "misjudged how the deal would be viewed by the wider football community".

UEFA announced changes to the Champions League format on Monday, including an increase from 32 to 36 clubs as the current group stage system is to be shelved in favour of a single league.

Clubs will get to play four extra matches per season, with the top eight in the final table advancing through to the last 16. Those placed between ninth and 24th will enter a play-off round to decide who else will qualify for the knockout stages, while those 25th and lower are eliminated and do not enter the Europa League.

The radical reforms to the competition are scheduled to come into place for the 2024-25 season.

Speculation is beginning to grow around the vacant Tottenham coaching position after Jose Mourinho's exit last week.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is on the hunt as Spurs try to return to England's top echelon.

Spurs appear set to miss out on Champions League football for the second straight season.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS PLOT RODGERS SWOOP

Tottenham are planning a move to recruit Brendan Rodgers from Leicester City as their new head coach this off-season according to The Sun.

Levy is a long-time admirer of the former Liverpool coach although he reportedly needs to convince his fellow Spurs board executives after disparaging comments Rodgers made about the club years ago.

Rodgers has been in charge of Leicester since 2019 with the Foxes firmly in the hunt for a top four finish this term.

 

ROUND-UP

- Borussia Monchengladbach forward Alassane Plea is being tracked by Premier League pair Arsenal and Manchester United claims the Mail.

- Inter Milan are interested in outgoing Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, but Barcelona remain favourites to land him reports Tuttosport.

- The Sun reports Manchester United could make a surprise move for 35-year-old goalkeeper Tom Heaton who spent time with the club as a youngster and is currently back-up at Aston Villa.

- Ajax are ready to sell full-back Nicolas Tagliafico as his admirers circle, including Leeds United, Inter Milan and Manchester City according to the Mail.

Alex Ferguson was manager and Michael Owen scored twice when Paul Pogba was handed his Manchester United debut at Leeds United, where on Sunday he could make a 200th appearance for the club.

It was September 20 2011 when Pogba made that first Red Devils senior outing. It came in an EFL Cup tie at Elland Road, Pogba coming off the bench to replace Ryan Giggs as the visitors scorched to a 3-0 victory.

United are back at Elland Road on Sunday for their first Premier League clash at Leeds since October 2003, and Pogba will complete a double century of matches for the club should he be selected by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Pogba said: "Obviously, it's a great achievement for me, playing against Leeds, I know the history with Leeds and I know it's going to be a good game. And, for me, 200 you say? I'm surprised. I didn't know."

In a question-and-answer session with fans for the United website, Pogba added: "I remember I started, playing my first game was against Leeds, and now it's 200 so it's kind of beautiful for an achievement. And the most important thing, I hope, I really hope that we win my 200th game."

Pogba's first-team career with United at one stage looked to be over almost as soon as it started, as he left at the end of that 2011-12 season to join Juventus, with Ferguson accusing the then youngster of showing a lack of respect.

Four years later, Pogba returned to Old Trafford, and there have been ups and downs since. His relationship with Jose Mourinho appeared to badly deteriorate before the manager was sacked in December 2018, and Pogba last week reflected on how he got on much better with Solskjaer than with the Portuguese.

Pogba has scored five goals and had six assists this season from 35 games, well down on his career best of 16 goals and 11 assists in 47 games in the 2018-19 season.

However, last season he contributed only one goal and three assists in 22 matches, so the World Cup winner at least seems to have turned a corner.

Across his 199 games to date for the club, Pogba has scored 37 goals and had 39 assists.

Pogba is a Muslim and is following the customs of Ramadan, the month of prayer and reflection which runs until mid-May.

Muslims who are able to are encouraged to fast during daylight hours, and Pogba says he can remain physically strong enough to keep playing at his best during the period.

"I would say now I'm just getting used to it," he said. "I've been doing it for years. I have a professional nutritionist as well here, who helps me with what I have to eat and also when I train, he gives me some stuff, some protein, so I don't lose too much muscle and it's okay.

"I'm lucky. It's not that hot, you know, so I can deal with it. It's not that hard, you know. It's okay and it's for a good cause so it's good."

As they prepare to head to West Yorkshire, United have good recent memories of facing Leeds, having won the reverse fixture 6-2 at Old Trafford in December. Only twice in the Premier League have they done the double over Leeds (1996-97 and 1999-00).

Florentino Perez says the clubs who claimed this week to have abandoned the European Super League remain contractually tied to the project.

The Real Madrid president, who has been a driving force and staunch defender of the controversial breakaway, says those that signed up "can't leave", even if they say they have quit the league.

Twelve teams declared last Sunday that they had committed to the Super League, but on Tuesday all six Premier League clubs announced they had quit. Inter and Atletico Madrid soon followed, Milan may also withdraw, while Juventus remain advocates of the league but have acknowledged its collapse.

Real Madrid and Barcelona very much remain, but for all the merits of Clasico clashes, they need other clubs to firmly commit.

Perez was asked in an interview with Spanish newspaper AS whether it was true that clubs would have to buy themselves out of binding contracts.

He said: "I'm not going to take my time to explain what a binding contract is here. But the fact is, the clubs can't leave.

"Some, because of the pressure, have had to say they'll leave. But this project, or something very similar, will happen, and I hope it's in the near future."

Supporters, players, coaches, politicians and even royalty have come out in opposition of the plans, with the 'closed-shop' nature of the Super League, whereby the 12 founding clubs would be guaranteed continuing membership, being criticised as an anti-competitive concept.

UEFA and FIFA, the long-time governing bodies of the European and world game, have been scathing and pointed to the possibility of punishments being imposed on the clubs involved.

Perez vowed the Super League has not yet been killed off and is merely a sleeping project, poised to be resurrected.

"The entity exists and the members who make up the Super League are there too," he said.

"What we've done is given ourselves a few weeks to reflect on the hostility with which certain people who don't want to lose their privileges have manipulated the project."

He said financial backers JP Morgan remain involved, despite the investment banking firm stating it "clearly misjudged" the depth of feeling that would be stirred in the football community by the league.

"They've taken time to reflect, like the 12 clubs," Perez said. "If something needs to be changed, it'll be changed, but the Super League is the best project we've thought can be carried out."

Perez said he was baffled by UEFA's Champions League expansion plans, announced on Monday, which will see 36 teams rather than the current 32 compete from the 2024-25 season, each guaranteed at least 10 games per season, and he said the start date was too far away.

Madrid, Barcelona and all major European clubs have been hit heavily financially by the COVID-19 crisis, with major revenue streams such as matchday income cut off.

Perez said there was a danger that "all the clubs go bankrupt" unless there is immediate action.

Manchester United are "definitely" hunting Arsenal's Premier League record streak of unbeaten away matches, according to Fred.

The 3-1 win at Tottenham earlier this month moved United onto 23 games on the road without defeat.

That put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men level with the Gunners' run from 2001-02, but still five games short of overtaking the north London club's spell from 2003-04.

On Sunday the Red Devils will put their proud record on the line again with a trip to rivals Leeds United, a side they beat 6-2 at Old Trafford in December.

Asked if setting a new landmark was on United's radar, Fred told the club's official website: "Definitely, we look at the numbers that are so important in football these days.

"We'll aim to do our best in the games... we always do that anyway, give our all with one game coming after another.

"We're on a great run of form away from home. We've been winning, it's a great run, I hope we can keep up this winning run away from home until the end of the season.

"I also hope we can improve our home form, we've already improved a lot since the start of the season. I think we can continue on this run and finish the season really well."

The December meeting between the sides in Manchester was their first in the league for over 16 years, but for Leeds it swiftly turned into a nightmare as Scott McTominay became the first player in Premier League history to score twice in the first three minutes of a match.

That was just the tip of the iceberg, however, as Leeds went on to concede four goals in the first half of a Premier League fixture for the first time, Bruno Fernandes and Victor Lindelof increasing the lead before Liam Cooper pulled one back just before the break.

Although it was the first occasion a Marcelo Bielsa team had conceded six goals in a game since 1992 and the first time United had scored so many since an 8-2 win over Arsenal in August 2011, United still allowed Leeds 17 attempts.

Sunday's clash will be United's first league visit to Elland Road since October 2003, when the visitors snatched a 1-0 win – they have not won successive league games at Leeds since 1976.

Is Ibrahima Konate bound for Anfield?

The 21-year-old defender has caught the eye of both Liverpool and Manchester United.

But, the Merseyside club appear set to win the race for his signature.

 

TOP STORY – KONATE HEADING TO ANFIELD

Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig, according to the Guardian.

Konate had also been linked with Premier League rivals Manchester United, who are eyeing a new centre-back at Old Trafford.

But Liverpool have reportedly agreed a five-year contract with Konate, who has a €35million (£30.5m) release clause.

 

ROUND-UP

- The front page of Saturday's Mundo Deportivo reports Barcelona want to offer a new and improved contract to teenage sensation Ansu Fati, which would keep him at Camp Nou until 2026. The 18-year-old, previously linked to United, until at least 2022, with the option to extend it by a further two years.

- What does the future hold for Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma? The 22-year-old Italy star's contract is set to expire at the end of the season and he is yet to re-sign at San Siro amid links with United, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Real Madrid. While Milan remain hopeful of keeping Donnarumma, Calciomercato says they have begun conversations with Lille's Mike Maignan.

Milan, Inter and Roma are eyeing Torino captain and star forward Andrea Belotti, claims Calciomercato.

- Fabrizio Romano reports Manchester City are set to sign Metinho in the same deal with Fluminense team-mate Kayky.

Madrid remain optimistic about the possibility of signing Kylian Mbappe from PSG, according to Le Parisien. Mbappe has been tipped to join Los Blancos, who have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland.

Wales manager Ryan Giggs has been charged with assaulting two women, Greater Manchester Police said.

The 47-year-old former Manchester United footballer has also been charged with one count of coercive and controlling behaviour.

A statement from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said: "A man from Salford has been charged with three offences after police were called to reports of a disturbance in the Worsley area in November 2020.

"Ryan Giggs has been charged with causing actual bodily harm to a woman in her 30s and common assault of a woman in her 20s. Both counts relate to an incident on the evening of Sunday 1 November 2020."

The GMP statement said the coercive and controlling behaviour charge against Giggs concerned the period from December 2017 to November 2020.

"He has been bailed and is due to appear at Manchester and Salford Magistrates' Court on Wednesday 28 April 2021," the force said.

"Police were called at 10.05pm on Sunday 1 November 2020 to reports of a disturbance at an address on Chatsworth Road, Worsley.

"A woman in her 30s was treated for injuries at the scene."

Giggs has denied the allegations against him.

He won 13 Premier League titles and the Champions League twice during a hugely successful career with United before announcing his playing retirement in May 2014.

He was named Wales manager in January 2018, taking over the job following the departure of Chris Coleman.

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) said Giggs would not be in charge of the team for the upcoming Euro 2020 finals, following the charges.

Robert Page will serve as manager, the FAW said.

"An FAW board meeting will be convened to discuss these developments and its impact on the association and the national team," the FAW said in a statement.

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