Arthur insists he is staying at Barcelona

Arthur insists he is staying at Barcelona

Arthur has ended speculation over his future at Barcelona, insisting he wants to stay despite interest from several top clubs.

The Brazil midfielder has reportedly become a target for Juventus – and Sky Sports News reported last week that Inter Milan had asked about his availability during talks over Lautaro Martinez’s potential move to the Nou Camp.

Sky Sports News has also been told that Barca’s board and head coach Quique Setien still see a future for him at the club, however, despite the need to recoup funds from player sales in the next transfer window due to the financial impact of coronavirus.

And the player himself also sees a future at Barca for “a long time to come”.

“There’ll always be rumours, but I’m honestly really clear about the fact that the only option I’m interested in is staying at Barcelona,” he said.

“I’m really sure and relaxed about it. I feel very much at home here and thank the club and the coaching staff for the faith they’ve placed in me. That’s yet another reason that makes me totally certain that all I want to do is stay here.

“The rumoured interest from big clubs is always flattering for anyone – and it’s a good sign – but my mind is totally focused on being here for many years to come.

“Barca is the club I’ve always wanted to be at, and I want to remain an Azulgrana for a long time to come; that comes above everything else.

“Every day I feel more at home here; in the team, around the club and in the city. I also love the people and the culture here and really feel the fans’ support.

“I’m 100 per cent focused on working and want us to get back and playing whenever we can, because I’m raring to continue improving here and fighting for more silverware in a Blaugrana shirt.”

La Liga to start testing players on Monday after government green light

La Liga to start testing players on Monday after government green light

The Spanish government has approved a protocol for sporting activity, paving the way for La Liga clubs to begin testing players for Covid-19 on Monday with a view to returning to training the following week.

The league is optimistic that this step will allow it to restart the competition in mid-June, although all decisions still depend on approval from the ministry of health and on the numbers infected by coronavirus continuing to decline.

A taskforce meeting called by the Supreme Sports Council (CSD) and attended by the league, the federation, the players union and representatives from some clubs, as well as other sporting bodies, approved the protocol as part of a four-phase government plan to reduce the lockdown and head towards what the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, called “the new normality”. The final phase, scheduled for June, will include a return to competition.

With the population due to be allowed out for exercise for the first time this weekend, professional athletes will be given permission to train alone from Monday. Decisions, though, will be made on a province by province basis, with Covid-19 cases varying greatly across the 50 provinces in the country and altering the context at each club.

That plan broadly fits the league’s own four-phase proposal for a return to training, beginning with individual work and progressing through small, eight-man groups to full team sessions. The league hopes to inspect club training grounds on Monday and Tuesday next week to ensure their preparedness and tests will be carried out thereafter. La Liga has not yet finalised a protocol for a return to competition but government plans contemplate open-air events attended by fewer than 400 people in the final phase.

A statement said the CSD had approved “almost the entirety” of proposals placed before the government. While the full details are yet to be published, a short statement referring back to a 13 April decree suggested that Covid-19 tests could be carried out only by prescription and according to the criteria of the ministry of health, casting considerable doubt on La Liga’s initial plans to test players daily once sessions had begun.

The league had previously told clubs that it was indefinitely suspending the first round of testing, which it had hoped to begin this Tuesday 28 April, because it had not be authorised to do so by the ministry of health.

Kieran Trippier charged by FA over alleged breaches of betting rules

Kieran Trippier charged by FA over alleged breaches of betting rules

England right-back Kieran Trippier has been charged with misconduct for alleged breaches of the Football Association’s betting rules.

The alleged offences occurred in July 2019, which is when Trippier joined Atletico Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur.

The 29-year-old has until 18 May to provide a response.

“I have fully complied with the FA’s investigation over the past several months on a voluntary basis and will continue to do so,” Trippier said.

“I want to make it clear that while a professional footballer, I have at no stage placed any football-related bets or received any financial benefit from others betting.”

The FA said the charge relates to rules where:

  • a participant shall not bet, either directly or indirectly, or instruct, permit, cause or enable any person to bet on – (i) the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in or in connection with, a football match or competition; or (ii) any other matter concerning or related to football anywhere in the world, including, for example and without limitation, the transfer of players, employment of managers, team selection or disciplinary matters.
  • or where a participant provides to any other person any information relating to football which the participant has obtained by virtue of his or her position within the game and which is not publicly available at that time, the participant shall be in breach of this rule where any of that information is used by that other person for, or in relation to, betting.

La Liga plans training return as soon as possible after government go-ahead

La Liga plans training return as soon as possible after government go-ahead

​La Liga is working towards its clubs returning to training as soon as possible after being given the green light by the Spanish government.

Football in Spain was suspended indefinitely in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The country’s top division has created a detailed protocol for the return to training so proper health safeguards are observed.

The aim is a potential restart to the league in mid-June behind closed doors.

There are 11 rounds of matches remaining, with Barcelona two points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the table.

Spain has announced a four-phase plan to lift the country’s stringent lockdown and, during ‘phase zero’ from 4-11 May, professional sports leagues can go back to training.

Part of La Liga’s strict protocols involve training sessions progressing from individual to small group and then team training.

Players, coaches and staff will have to be tested before individual training begins and then have daily testing.

The Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons were deemed over on Tuesday after France banned all sporting events, including without spectators, until September.

After the French announcement, La Liga president Javier Tebas said: “I do not understand why there would more danger in playing football behind closed doors, with all precautionary measures, than working on an assembly line, being on a fishing boat on the high seas, etc, etc.”

European leagues have until 25 May to tell European football’s governing body Uefa whether they want to complete or cancel their seasons.