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Report: Premier League prepares for June return

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The Premier League is reportedly preparing to return to action in June as the current season remains suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: Former US TV execs indicted on charges of World Cup bribery ]

Multiple reports across the UK, including this one from the Daily Mirror, claim that the government has given the Premier League the green light to return to action from June, provided the situation has improved as expected by then.

Per the report, Premier League clubs have been told that they should prepare for games to be played from June 1 onwards behind closed doors and there is a ‘tentative agreement for the top flight to resume behind closed doors after the 20 clubs mapped out a plan with senior officials on a resumption of matches.’

The report adds that ‘in principle, with government health officials hopeful of a coronavirus peak in the UK in the next few weeks, they will sanction games under strict guidelines.’ 

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Plans are in place for players to be isolated together and away from the public, as they could begin training in May so they can prepare for the current campaign resuming.

With the situation in the UK deteriorating over the last week and the country on lockdown, these tentative plans can of course change quickly.

Premier League players have had differing views on what should happen to the 2019-20 season and Luke Shaw is the latest to say games should not be played behind closed doors. But if teams play two games per week in empty stadiums or training grounds from June 1, there is the real possibility the season could be finished by the start of July and then FA Cup and Europe competitions could follow.

The overwhelming feeling from Premier League clubs, the league itself and many other individuals is that the 2019-20 season should be finished whenever it is safe to do so. Recent PL club meetings came to that agreement and that is the official stance.

However, the next big question is whether or not fans will be able to attend games for the rest of the season and this report seems to suggest that is totally off the table and if the current campaign is concluded, fans will not be present.

Premier League March Madness 2020

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We have no doubt you will have missed NCAA March Madness and we’re all missing the 2019-20 Premier League season which is currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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We all love tournaments, sport and drama. It’s time to create some of our own.

To make sure you’re not missing out on either March Madness or the business end of the PL season, we’ve gone ahead and merged the two competitions. The March Madness Final Four and Championship game were due to take place this weekend in Atlanta but now you will be voting on Tottenham v. Arsenal instead of Duke v. Kansas.

Below we reveal the seedings and explain how the tournament will work this upcoming week, as you can vote for teams to advance each day right here at ProSoccerTalk and a winner will be crowned on Friday.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub ]

All you have to do is click on the link above to stay up to date with Premier League March Madness. Will #1 seed Liverpool be crowned champions? Or will a darkhorse emerge for their shinning moment?

Let the Madness, begin.


Seedings for Premier League March Madness – 2020

#1 Liverpool
#2 Man City
#3 Leicester
#4 Chelsea
#5 Man United
#6 Wolves
#7 Sheffield United
#8 Tottenham
#9 Arsenal
#10 Burnley
#11 Crystal Palace
#12 Everton
#13 Newcastle
#14 Southampton
#15 Brighton
#16 West Ham

#17 Watford
#18 Bournemouth
#19 Aston Villa
#20 Norwich City


Game schedule for Premier League March Madness – 2020

Monday, April 6 – Relegation playoffs (winner avoids relegation, three losers relegated)
Relegation play-off semifinal: #17 Watford v. #20 Norwich
Relegation play-off semifinal: #18 Bournemouth v. #19 Aston Villa
Relegation play-off final: TBD v. TBD

Tuesday, April 7 – Sweet 16
Game 1: #1 Liverpool v. #16 West Ham
Game 2: #2 Man City v. #15 Brighton
Game 3: #3 Leicester v. #14 Southampton
Game 4: #4 Chelsea v. #13 Newcastle
Game 5: #5 Man United v. #12 Everton
Game 6: #6 Wolves v. #11 Crystal Palace
Game 7: #7 Sheffield United v. #10 Burnley
Game 8: #8 Tottenham v. #9 Arsenal

Wednesday, April 8 – Elite Eight
Game 9: Winner of Game 1 v. Winner of Game 8
Game 10: Winner of Game 2 v. Winner of Game 7
Game 11: Winner of Game 3 v. Winner of Game 6
Game 12: Winner of Game 4 v. Winner of Game 5

Thursday, April 9 – Final Four
Game 13: Winner of Game 9 v. Winner of Game 12
Game 14: Winner of Game 10 v. Winner of Game 11

Friday, April 10 – Championship Game
Game 15: Winner of Game 13 v. Winner of Game 14

Burning question: How will the USMNT perform as World Cup hosts?

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We know the question is fraught with variables, but let’s consider this question during this dead period in world soccer: What should we expect from the United States men’s national team at the home World Cup.

The USMNT will presumably have a ninth World Cup under its belt when it joins Canada and Mexico in hosting the 2026 World Cup.

Expectations will be sky-high for the Yanks, eight years removed from failure to qualify for the 2018 tournament and 22 years after hosting the World Cup that would jumpstart soccer in this country.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

It’s wild to think about a 27-year-old Christian Pulisic leading the Yanks as presumed captain. Health-willing, the winger will be somewhere in the 80-cap range and potentially have a resume as decorated as any in history at his age.

Let’s begin by talking about who will be on the roster, considering we cannot know the identity of the coach or which players will explode onto the scene. Maybe Keegan Rosenberry or Donovan Pines get chances and grasp them. Maybe both disappear from the picture. Six years is a long time, so we’ll stick with the familiar.

Given the tremendous changes at the top of U.S. Soccer and a spirit amongst fans which has been downright venomous, it may be difficult to imagine Gregg Berhalter will still be at the helm unless his side has a remarkable tournament in Qatar, but it’s possible (For what it’s worth, Berhalter’s USMNT playing career happened alongside new USMNT general manager Brian McBride).

So let’s look at the class of players who are in the picture now and would also still be in their primes, assuming health.

Near certainties

We’re lending some leeway to Dest, Weah, and Reyna given their early and impressive starts to careers at elite European clubs, and a little bit to Steffen, too; Whether the Fortuna Dussseldorf loan man is the No. 1 is a conversation to be had, but his experience gives him a foothold as a member of the corps.

  • Pulisic, 27
  • Weston McKennie, 27
  • Tyler Adams, 27
  • Zack Steffen, 31
  • Giovanni Reyna, 23
  • Tim Weah, 26
  • Sergino Dest, 25

The wily vets: We know there will be late bloomers and those that play deep into their 30s — Gyasi Zardes may become the USMNT’s new Chris Wondolowski if he hasn’t already — but these five names are well-established now and well-liked by the hierarchy.

  • Jordan Morris, 31
  • John Brooks, 33
  • DeAndre Yedlin, 32
  • Walker Zimmerman, 33
  • Cristian Roldan, 31

Young, experienced, but with questions: It’s a touch harsh to have Sargent here, as recency bias is the challenge (He’s struggled of late but has a very strong resume at Werder Bremen and with the USMNT). He also will have to contend with a pool of very deep and young attackers.  Miazga and Horvath also possess the resume and acumen, but there are enough minor questions about playing time — getting it and keeping it — at the very top levels of Europe.

  • Josh Sargent, 26
  • Matt Miazga, 30
  • Ethan Horvath,  30

How will they fare with a step up? There’s nothing to dislike about this crew apart from where they are playing now. Cannon, Miles Robinson, and Yueill are in a strengthened MLS but that is still not a guarantee on the international stage. Antonee Robinson was denied a January move to AC Milan, and the Wigan Athletic man is going to get a big look from someone soon since he plays left back. Cannon and he will get a chance almost as soon as the transfer window opens again.

  • Reggie Cannon, 28
  • Antonee Robinson, 28
  • Miles Robinson, 29
  • Jackson Yueill, 29

Oh, we sure do hope so: Whether playing on second sides of German powers, dipping their toes in the Premier League like Aston Villa’s Indiana Vassilev, or in a sea of MLS or Eredivisie hopefuls, there are a ton of buoyant young players waiting for their turn on the stage.

We include older Cameron Carter-Vickers due to his loan experience in the Championship, and two names on here are the wildest of wild cards. Folarin Balogun is lighting up the PL2 for Arsenal but has repped England youth since playing for the Americans, while Konrad de la Fuente is training with Barcelona’s first team but there’s a looooong road from Barcelona B to first team playing time.

Even this list leaves off Brandon Servania, James Sands, Charlie Kellman, and a host of others with seemingly effervescent futures.

  • Chris Richards, 26
  • Indiana Vassilev, 25
  • Ulysses Llanez, 25
  • Jesus Ferreira, 25
  • Konrad de la Fuente, 24
  • Paxton Pomykal, 26
  • Cameron Carter-Vickers, 28
  • Richie Ledezma, 25
  • Chris Gloster, 25
  • Alex Mendez, 25
  • Mason Toye, 27
  • Sebastian Soto, 25
  • Folarin Balogun*, 24

So what does it mean?

Having already qualified and playing on home soil, the Yanks will be playing in an expanded field. Unless the nation experiences unparalleled drop-offs in form and development, the side will enter the tournament with high expectations at home.

A perceived group of death will no longer be met by “Well, maybe next time.” Questions will be more on defenders than anything else, although the U.S. men have yet to find the latest from the Tim Howard, Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller time line of elite backstops (Honorable mention to Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando).

Admitting that the exercise of, “What’s gonna happen in six years?” is rooting deeply in our current soccer landscape’s dormant state, we project the Yanks to be in the knockout rounds with a chance — however small or large — to get past whoever gets in their way.

Premier League players release statement on proposed pay cut

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Premier League players have responded and released a statement after calls for them to take a proposed pay cut to their salaries during the coronavirus pandemic grow.

The Professional Players’ Association (PFA) released a lengthy statement on behalf of the Premier League players as they revealed that all players ‘want to, and will, play their part in making significant financial contributions in these unprecedented times.’

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and other captains across the Premier League have joined together to try and come to an agreement on a relief fund for all 20 clubs to help against the spread of COVID-19.

The PFA added that the players want their financial contributions to support:

  • Our clubs that we play for will obviously need our support, particularly if this crisis goes beyond June.
  • Non-playing staff at our Premier League clubs – guaranteeing they receive 100% of their wages.
  • EFL and non-league clubs, their staff and players.
  • The NHS – whose workers – many of whom are football fans – are doing so much for us all. They are the real heroes.

The Premier League released a statement on Friday saying that the season would only return when it is safe to do so and clubs would be donating $24.5 million to the NHS and over $153 million to teams in the English Football League, as teams in the lower tiers of English soccer struggle with the suspension of games.

Both Premier League clubs and players have been criticized by the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock who called for them to do their part and take a wage cut, but the main argument from the Premier League players is that if they take a pay cut their contributions to the government via PAYE tax contributions on their wages would in turn hit the NHS and other UK public services.

“Going forward, we are working together to find a solution which will be continually reviewed in order to assess the circumstance of the COVID-19 crisis. The players are mindful that as PAYE employees, the combined tax on their salaries is a significant contribution to funding essential public services – which are especially critical at this time. Taking a 30% salary deduction will cost the Exchequer substantial sums. This would be detrimental to our NHS and other government-funded services.

“The proposed 30% salary deduction over a 12-month period equates to over £500m in wage reductions and a loss in tax contributions of over £200m to the government. What effect does this loss of earning to the government mean for the NHS? Was this considered in the Premier League proposal and did the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock factor this in when asking players to take a salary cut? We welcomed the opportunity to discuss this with the Premier League today and we are happy to continue talks.”

A number of clubs have been criticized for taking the UK government up on their scheme to pay 80 percent of wages to non-playing staff, as many believe the furloughing scheme should not be used in this way as billionaire owners of clubs should instead pay staff in full.

Transfer news: Coutinho to Chelsea, De Ligt to Man United

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The latest transfer news continues across the Premier League and here’s a look at some of the juiciest rumors.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

First up, Philippe Coutinho has been linked with a move back to England with Chelsea his latest potential destination as they are said to be ‘in negotiations’ with Barcelona about signing him on a permanent deal.

The Brazilian playmaker is still a Barcelona player but he’s spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern Munich.

According to The Sun newspaper the 27-year-old midfielder will leave Bayern at the end of this season with the Bavarian giants unwilling to trigger his $130 million release clause.

Arsenal, Tottenham and Man United are all said to be in the running to sign Coutinho but it is Chelsea who have taken the first step to sign the Brazilian who was sensational at Liverpool before his move to Barcelona 18 months ago. Coutinho never settled properly at the Nou Camp as he was shipped out on loan to Bayern and it is highly unlikely Barca will get even half of the $175 million they paid to Liverpool for him in January 2018.

Per the report, Coutinho would be available for between $65-80 million and that could be worth a punt for several Premier League clubs given his past form for Liverpool in England’s top-flight. His ability to drop his shoulder, dictate the tempo of a game and deliver stunning goals and deliveries from long-range is his trademark.

With Willian and Pedro both likely to leave Chelsea this summer, Frank Lampard will need some attacking reinforcements but he already has Hakim Ziyech arriving from Ajax, plus Christian Pulisic, Ross Barkley, Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi battling for spots in the attacking midfield positions. In terms of the other clubs interested in Coutinho, it would seem like Tottenham would be the best fit as they recently lost playmaker Christian Eriksen and both Man United and Arsenal seem set with their current attacking talents.

Coutinho’s quality means he would be a good buy for any Premier League club with his former manager at Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers, linked with a shock move to bring him to Leicester City. Coutinho may not fit in at Barcelona but he is still loved by many in the Premier League, even after his acrimonious departure from Liverpool.


Another player who sealed a big move but has failed to settle is Matthijs de Ligt.

The Daily Express say that Man United have made De Ligt one of their top targets for this summer as the 20-year-old Dutch center back has failed to impress after his mega transfer from Ajax to Juventus last summer.

De Ligt looked likely to head to Man United for most of last summer but instead joined Juve for $100 million but under Maurizio Sarri he’s struggled to be a regular and both parties are reportedly ready to move on when the next transfer window arrives.

A towering presence at the heart of Ajax’s defense in their run to the Champions League semifinals in 2018-19, plus a rising star on the international stage with the Netherlands, De Ligt’s game would be suited well to the Premier League.

Do Man United need another center back? Right now Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have formed a pretty solid partnership in central defense, flanked by Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, with Eric Bailly and Phil Jones back up center back options.

That said, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has used a 3-4-3 system on many occasions this season, especially against the Premier League big boys away from home, and that could mean there’s space for De Ligt, Maguire and Lindelof in the same lineup.

There’s no doubt Juve will be looking to recoup the vast majority of the $100 million they paid for De Ligt last summer but that’s unlikely. One potential deal suggested, per the report, is that Paul Pogba could head back to Juventus with De Ligt part of the deal.

Man United’s attack is set with Bruno Fernandes pulling the strings and the duo of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford delivering. Shoring up midfield and defense should remain Solskjaer’s top priority and if De Ligt can regain the amazing form from his Ajax days, he would have a huge impact.