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Joe Willock’s transfer decision, Mikel Arteta’s true feelings and Newcastle’s offer of certainty

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In our final programme of the season, Joe Willock and Mikel Arteta will decide where their futures will lie, as well as sharing their thoughts on whether they feel they have the right team around them to win it all this season. They’ll also give their verdict on who could realistically be crowned Premier League champions. But first a little background.

It has been a roller-coaster day for Mikel Arteta with the news that he will be leaving Liverpool for Barcelona. He is abandoning hope of a move to the Premier League after meeting with Liverpool officials and speaking with his agent over the last 24 hours. He has until 5pm on Thursday to make his decision and it will be interesting to see if he makes a late switch or returns to his former team. His decision will have an effect on the season as a whole and he could even determine who makes it into the Champions League. This article has been written with the view to helping Mikel Arteta put pen to paper on a new contract with Liverpool Football Club. It is safe to assume that there will be a lot of emotion involved in this transfer and therefore it is important that we do our best to understand what is going on.

Steve Bruce couldn’t have made his feelings much clearer towards the end of last season, stating he would “love” to bring the Hale End academy graduate back to Tyneside on a permanent basis.

And while much of the talk since has been of Willock getting his chance in North London, Mirror Football understands that Newcastle believes they are making progress over a return, in a likely season-long loan deal with a view to a permanent switch next summer.

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Australia and New Zealand withdraw from Rugby League World Cup over safety concerns

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Australia and New Zealand have officially withdrawn from this year’s Rugby League World Cup, citing player welfare and safety concerns.

They have requested the International Rugby League postpones the tournament until 2022 to “minimize the risk of players contracting COVID-19 and ensure the best outcome for player wellbeing”.

The event is due to be held in England this October and this latest news is a major blow to the tournament’s hopes of going ahead.

The ARL and NZRL made the decision after considering the risk of COVID-19 infection in the United Kingdom, the worsening environment in Australia, and the time a majority of NRL players would have to spend away from home under strict biosecurity conditions prior to the World Cup.

“They would then be required to remain under protocols and away from home for the duration of the tournament before again quarantining on return to Australia. This is too much to ask our players and officials to do.

“We have again requested the IRL and Rugby League World Cup consider postponing the event until 2022 to enable all players to participate.”

Peters said: ”There are stark differences between how the pandemic is being managed in the UK compared to Australasia and recent developments have highlighted how quickly things can change.

“The tournament organizers have moved heaven and earth to make this work, so it is not an easy decision, but the COVID-19 situation in the UK shows no sign of improving, and it’s simply too unsafe to send teams and staff over.

“We understand how disappointing this is for fans and those involved, however, player and staff safety remains paramount.”

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Jordan Henderson contract issue may make sense on paper – but Jurgen Klopp won’t think so

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Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson has come under fire following a report by Alan Nixon in the Guardian which claims that the player has a contract with the club that runs out next summer. This has led to suggestions that Liverpool could face a court case over breach of contract as well as an immigration issue should Henderson choose to move abroad.

This transfer window has presented itself as one of the most challenging in recent memory. Both parties have been in need of a deal; Liverpool in particular has been looking to offload a player’s and/or cash sum in order to bring in new blood into the team. Lo and behold, Daniel Sturridge has been brought in on a free transfer from Chelsea – and it looks as though he will be the one receiving the bulk of the transfer fee along with a hefty chunk of change from his new club. Perhaps most interestingly of all, however, is Klopp’s reported admiration for Jordan Henderson at Anfield.

This transfer window has presented itself as one of the most challenging in recent memory. Both parties have been in need of a deal; Liverpool in particular have been looking to offload a playership and/or cash sum in order to bring in new blood into the team.

Lo and behold, Daniel Sturridge has been brought in on a free transfer from Chelsea – and it looks as though he will be the one receiving the bulk of the transfer fee along with a hefty chunk of change from his new club. Perhaps most interestingly of all, however, is Klopp’s reported admiration for Jordan Henderson at Anfield

The circumstances surrounding the enforced loan are as much about money as it is about reputation. The fine with which Liverpool are engaging with the Football Association over the issue is likely to do little to improve their standing in the minds of their fans, or even increase their reputation at Anfield. They may even do the opposite. More than a decade has passed since the last player to be refused a January move back to his home country went public with his criticism of the then-manager, Sven-Göran Eriksson. Perhaps it is time for someone else to take up the banner.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sends Premier League title message after first Man Utd friendly

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We have to start better than last season. We didn’t get off to a decent start at all,” Solskjaer told MUTV after Sunday’s friendly win over Derby.

“I think the Premier League is more competitive. We had maybe one competitor every season when I was playing, so the first six or seven games, very important.

“You don’t win the league, but you can lose the chance of winning the league in the first six or seven games.”

Solskjaer has pressure on him in the upcoming campaign to win his first title in charge of the club after collecting no trophies since taking over in 2018.

Last season he came close as his team lost on penalties to Villarreal in the Europa League final.

The boss, who used a lot of young players in Sunday’s match, was pleased with his side’s performance against Derby.

He added: “The first game is always difficult, it’s the first test of 45 minutes, big pitch, took a bit of time to get going, loads of young players getting their chance to play with some of the first-team ones.

“Tom [Heaton] was very positive, he’s here to give the other ones a little bit of a challenge as well. He’s conducted himself so well throughout his career. I was just at the end of my career when he was coming up, so I’m so happy to have him.

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