Chinese Super League

Marouane Fellaini
Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images

Fellaini tests positive for coronavirus

Leave a comment

Marouane Fellaini has implored the world to “stay safe” after announcing that he’s tested positive for coronavirus.

The test came as Fellaini returned to Chinese Super League club Shandong Luneng on Friday. He will be quarantined, according to Sky Sports, but is asymptomatic and did not have a fever.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Fellaini joins Juventus star Paulo Dybala, AC Milan’s Paolo and Daniel Maldini, and a host of others in testing positive for COVID-19.

The Belgian midfielder was rumored to make a Premier League return this January. He’s made 260 appearances between Everton and Manchester United in the PL alone.

He has 87 caps and 19 goals for Belgium and played all 120 minutes when the Red Devils beat the USMNT at the 2014 World Cup. He scored against Japan in Belgian’s run to the World Cup semifinals.

Latest coronavirus connections to soccer:

Report: Ighalo to take $7.3 million pay cut to stay at Man United

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Odion Ighalo is willing to take a pay cut of $7.3 million per season to sign for Man United on a permanent basis.

Ighalo, 30, joined Man United on loan from Shanghai Shenhua on deadline day in the January transfer window and has been a big hit already, scoring four goals in eight appearances in all competitions.

A report from the Sun states that Ighalo is keen to remain at Man United beyond this season and is willing to sign a contract which would see him earn half the amount he currently does in the Chinese Super League.

Ighalo’s current contract in China runs out on Jan. 1, 2021 but given his impressive displays with four goals in four starts, his performances have stood out and given Ole Gunnar Solskjaer plenty of food for thought.

With Marcus Rashford nearing a return to fitness, Ighalo’s minutes may dwindle if he did stick around at United next season and beyond but he seems very happy to play a bit-part role and he’s done it exceptionally well. His incredible goal in the 5-0 Europa League win against LASK last Thursday showcased his ability and his hold up play gives United a completely different option to Anthony Martial and Rashford.

After the transfer was ridiculed by many in January, Odion Ighalo has certainly proved Solskjaer correct to take a chance on him as the former Watford star has slotted into life back in England seamlessly.

Aside from his play on the pitch, Ighalo’s impact off the pitch has been sensational with his teammates sharing their delight in his recent success and fans turning the Nigerian striker into a cult figure at Old Trafford.

Ighalo has spoken about his childhood growing up in Lagos, Nigeria and saving up his lunch money each week to pay to watch Man United games on TV each weekend. Now he’s starring on the screens he used to pay to watch.

Wuhan soccer team leaving Spain to escape coronavirus

Getty Images
3 Comments

MADRID — The Chinese soccer team that was originally stuck in Spain because of the coronavirus outbreak is going back home to try to avoid its rapid spread in Europe.

Wuhan Zall was expected to return to China on Saturday, nearly 1 1/2 months after it arrived in Spain for preseason training. The team had not been able to leave because of the restrictions in China, but expedited its departure because of the worsening situation in Spain.

[ MORE: PL clubs to meet over coronavirus ban ]

The team initially planned to leave Spain mid-February but had extended its stay in the southern region of the country until at least the end of March. That plan changed this week because of the sharp spike in the number of cases in Spain and Europe generally.

“Things are well over there (in China) now,” José González, the team’s Spanish coach, told The Associated Press on Saturday. “The Chinese league will likely start at the beginning of May. We will have to enter quarantine when we arrive, so the sooner we leave, the better.”

The team will first go to the city of Shenzhen, where it is expected to finish its preseason training for the Chinese Super League, the country’s main first-division soccer competition. The league was supposed to start on Feb. 22 but was suspended because of the virus.

The city of Wuhan was the epicenter of the outbreak that rapidly spread to other countries and infected more than 145,000 people worldwide, with 5,400 deaths.

Spain was set to follow Italy on Saturday in declaring a nationwide lockdown as European countries took ever more sweeping measures to reduce contact among people and slow the accelerating spread of the coronavirus. Health authorities in Spain said more than 5,700 people were infected and the number of cases could reach 10,000 in the coming days.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.

The number of new cases have dwindled in China, where more than 65,000 people recovered from the virus. The nation has been easing up on lockdown measures in its hardest-hit region that included the city of Wuhan.

None of the Wuhan Zall players were infected when the team arrived in Spain, but the grandmother of one player was among the coronavirus-linked deaths back home.

Players have been away from home for several months because the team began its preseason in the Chinese city of Guanghzou, nearly 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) away from Wuhan.

Although the team was far away from the initial outbreak, Spanish health authorities had to come out publicly to say there was no reason for local citizens to be concerned about the squad’s arrival in January. Three players arrived from China later and had to stay in quarantine and be tested for the virus before joining the rest of the group.

Manchester United seals surprising loan for Odion Ighalo

Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Some surprising moves catch your eye in a, “Wow! What a capture!” way. See FC Cincinnati possibly luring Jurgen Locadia away from Brighton.

Others, not as much.

On the surface, Odion Ighalo‘s reported loan move to Manchester United sits firmly in the latter category.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

The 30-year-old is available due to the coronavirus-inspired suspension to the start of the Chinese Super League season, and supported United as a youngster.

Sky Sports says the move includes an option to buy.

Ighalo has lit up the CSL in his three seasons between Changchun Yatai and Shanghai Shenhua, and has 16- and 20-goal Premier League seasons on his resume.

He’s also scored sixteen times in 35 caps for Nigeria, including five in this summer’s Africa Cup of Nations.

So there’s reason to believe he can still perform at the PL level, even given his poor final half-season at Watford.

Maybe this comes down to the change in perception at Manchester United. Is it a new normal or a temporary normal to see one of the world’s richest and powerful clubs unable to buy a striker?

It mahy sound silly for United to chase Ighalo’s signature, but they need a striker and Ighalo has been regularly bagging goals. It’s been less than a half-decade since he scored 20 in the league.

Maybe it’s not so insane?

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

Yaya Toure: Racism problem in football ‘can’t continue like that’

Yaya Toure racism in football
Visual China Group via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The brazen public showings of racism in football are down to one thing, according to longtime Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure.

“Fans, people, now are more stupid than before.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Toure poke out Thursday, saying he’s approached FIFA about combatting the problem. He played for Chinese Super League side Qingdao Huanghai this season, scoring twice with three assists in 14 matches.

He’s says it’s going to be a long road to the erasure of such heinous incidents. Despite the commonplace nature of racism, Toure says the incidents don’t fail to stun him.

From Sky Sports:

“Of course it is shocking because we are in 2019. In 2020, 2025 we have the kids coming through – what are we going to do? You can’t continue like that.”

The incidents have been many:

We could go on.

It doesn’t help that Serie A attempted to combat increasing incidents in Italy by using monkeys in its anti-racism campaign. That came after all 20 clubs in the league united to call racism “a serious problem.”