Tagged in: club

Barcelona set for big exits due to virus

Lionel Messi, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Frenkie de Jong are the only players safe at Barcelona this summer as the Catalan club predict less spending and more player exchanges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, sources have told ESPN.

Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted last month that the club would still be “capable” of landing the game’s best players, but he warned deals could be organized in a very different way after the crisis.

“There is not going to be as much money in the transfer market because of the pandemic,” Bartomeu said. “But I predict that we are going to see a lot more swap deals.”

Barcelona have already committed to two transfers that will be completed in the summer. Forward Francisco Trincao will move to Camp Nou from Braga in a €30 million deal and Las Palmas midfielder Pedri will join for an initial €5m.

However, sources have told ESPN that the club continues to target another attacker and an internal debate has developed over whether it will still be possible to sign Lautaro Martinez or Neymar — or even both — when the window opens.

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There is also a wish to sign a right-back, a centre-back to replace Gerard Pique in the long term and a physical midfielder.

Inter striker Lautaro has a release clause of €111m that becomes active in the first two weeks of July. However, sources say Barca have “no intention” of paying that much. There have already been several meetings with the Serie A side and the possibility of including players to lower the price has been discussed.

Neymar remains Barca’s other big target. A year ago, Barca offered PSG several combinations of cash plus players, with Philippe Coutinho, Ivan Rakitic, Samuel Umtiti, Jean-Clair Todibo and Ousmane Dembele all put forward. PSG rejected the proposals then, but Barca hope they will change their stance this summer with Neymar’s deal up in 2022 and the possibility of the player invoking Article 17 to force an exit unilaterally.

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Augusta National to close by week’s end

Augusta National first postponed the Masters. Now the home of the Masters is closing its club.

Golf Digest obtained a letter from Chairman Fred Ridley to Augusta National members that says the club will close by the end of the week because of growing concerns over the new coronavirus and how it might affect the staff.

The club would confirm only that a memo had been sent.

“Beginning today, we are taking the necessary steps to curtail our operations so, by the end of this week, the Club will be closed until further notice,” Ridley stated in the memo obtained by Golf Digest.

Ridley said the grounds would be maintained with limited personnel and said other duties would be handled remotely.

He said he would review the situation and send timely updates, and he thanked the members for “patience and trust as we plan for the realities of this pandemic.”

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The Masters was planned for April 9-12. This will be the first time since 1946 — when the Masters resumed after World War II — that golf’s most viewed tournament is not the first full week in April. Augusta National closes about a month after the Masters for the summer and reopens in October.

Still to be determined is when it could be rescheduled, which is the club’s plan. Ridley’s letter comes one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considered that events of 50 or more people be shut down for eight weeks. That would last until the second full week in May.

Still up in the air is the second major of the year, the PGA Championship, scheduled for May 14-17 in San Francisco.

If played as scheduled, the top 20 from the 2019 PGA professional of the year standings would qualify for the PGA. The PGA of America has yet to announce a decision on the PGA Championship.

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