By Tim Stannard/beIN SPORTS USA
Top players express concern of safety of Premier League return as EPL runs through safety protocols
The government is sort of onboard. The league's bosses certainly are. About 14 of the clubs are. But a key group of participants still need convincing. And that task continues today.
Project Restart is the plan to get the English Premier League up and running again in the middle of June after what would be a three-month break due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the journey for this project has not been smooth sailing.
Wednesday is a key day on whether the league will have even more choppy waters to navigate.
The last few days and weeks have seen public comments from players such as Sergio Aguero, Danny Rose and Raheem Sterling admitting that they are fearful over soccer returning to England in June, concerned that it may not be entirely safe. "I'm not scared, but reserved and thinking what the worst outcome could be,” said Sterling.
Indeed, these players are not alone with athletes from all countries expressing the same concerns.
For this reason, Premier League bosses are holding a call with club captains and player union representatives in an attempt to go through the medical protocols that will be undertaken with the aim of keeping the footballers safe. The plan is to have all these protocols agreed with the government and all parties involved, ahead of a return to a form of group training on Monday.
Those protocols will be familiar to players in Germany and Spain - arriving in training clothes, masks, twice-weekly COVID-19 tests, and social distancing.
But the buy-in of the players is just one part of the problems for Project Restart. Officials had preferred to have matches being played in neutral grounds - six clubs currently threatened by relegation are against this. And some want the league to be played out but with the prospect of relegation removed - another tricky topic.
For the richest league in the world run by billionaire owners and sovereign wealth funds, the hurdle of people power might be one that is too high to clear.
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Nelson Semedo holds key to Barca's transfer plans
While the players are dutifully training across Spain ahead of a hoped for return to action in June, the transfer train is in full force and Wednesday's stories surround, Nelson Semedo, who could be a key part of Barcelona's strategy this summer.
The player has reportedly refused to discuss a contract extension past 2022, meaning that the right-back will be moved on this summer. Two clubs are interested in the Portuguese player who is valued at $45m - Inter and Juventus. And both these clubs have players that Barcelona want - Lautaro Martinez and Miralem Pjanic respectively.
Meanwhile, Barcelona have been linked with another Argentine international - Juan Foyth. The center-back has very much fallen out of favor with Jose Mourinho at Tottenham - no invite for quarantine-breaking training, a clear sign - and is available for a cutdown $15 million.
Rabiot returns to Juventus after "strike"
Despite these fairly existence-changing times, there appears to be one certainty. Adrien Rabiot is still quite a big thing.
Having disappeared from the headlines by disappearing onto Juve's bench this season after a fairly noisy and acrimonious departure from PSG in the summer, Rabiot was back with a bang this week with a report that his Mom was urging him not to respond to a recall by Juventus.
The midfielder had returned to France after the Serie A season was suspended but was reportedly not keen to return in protest at a salary cut for Juve's players due to the financial impacts of the coronavirus.
However, Rabiot is now on his way back to Turin for the start / non-start / no-one-really-knows of the Serie A season and joked through the medium of social media that "when you realize it’s your last day on… strike!"
Expect Rabiot to be boarding this summer's transfer train right about...now.
Amiens to take legal action to fight Ligue 1 relegation
Ligue 1's decision to write-off the current campaign is set to have some legal repercussions. Amiens have announced that the club will be taking legal action to battle a sudden relegation imposed after the league took the stance of counting the most recent standings as the final places.
Amiens were second from bottom, but just four points from safety and will be pushing back against a relegation to the second division. "The decision is a punishment from the league. It is unjust," was the declaration from Amiens club president Bernard Joannin.