Five Barcelona stars test positive for coronavirus ahead of La Liga restart

Barcelona stars and coaching staff tested positive for coronavirus ahead of a return to training but have now fully recovered. All five players were asymptomatic and have since gone on to make a full recovery.

The results were discovered through tests taken before a return to training in May and pose no problems for the club ahead of La Liga restarting.

Barcelona return to action against Mallorca on Saturday, May 13 as they look to win the title.

Quique Setien will hope his team can beat rivals Real Madrid in a close race for the La Liga trophy.

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La Liga fixtures

Thursday, June 11

Sevilla vs Real Betis (10pm)

Friday, June 12

Granada vs Getafe (7.30pm)

Valencia vs Levante (10pm)

Saturday, June 13

Espanyol vs Alaves (1pm)

Celta Vigo vs Villarreal (5pm)

Leganes vs Valladolid (7.30pm)

Mallorca vs Barcelona (10pm)

Sunday, June 14

Athletic Bilbao vs Atletico Madrid (1pm)

Real Madrid vs Eibar (7.30pm)

Real Sociedad vs Osasuna (10pm)

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Juventus 'offer Chelsea Bernardeschi in exchange for Jorginho'

Juventus ‘offer Chelsea Federico Bernardeschi in exchange for Jorginho as Maurizio Sarri looks to be reunited with Italy midfielder once again this summer’

  • Juventus reportedly want to sign Chelsea’s Italian midfielder Jorginho
  • The Serie A champions are ‘offering winger Federico Bernardeschi in exchange’
  • A move would see Jorginho reunited with Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri
  • Jorginho played under Sarri at Napoli before following him to Chelsea in 2018
  • The midfielder’s agent recently flirted with the idea of his client returning to Italy

Juventus are offering Federico Bernardeschi in exchange for Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, according to reports in Italy.

The Serie A champions are hoping to engineer Jorginho’s return to Italy and are offering their versatile midfielder in a swap deal to make it happen.

According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri is keen to be reunited with the Italian midfielder, with the pair known to have had a fruitful relationship at both Napoli and Chelsea.


Juventus are reportedly offering Chelsea Federico Bernardeschi (left) in exchange for Jorginho

Sarri (left) is keen to be reunited with Jorginho (centre) back in Italy as he overhauls his side

However, the report suggests that it remains to be seen whether the Blues would give up their No 5 for Bernardeschi, with Jorginho establishing himself as a solid starter in the past year.

Sarri started coaching Jorginho at Napoli in 2015 before the pair both ended up at Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2018. 

Jorginho, who signed for Chelsea in £57million deal, initially struggled to adapt to the Premier League in his first season as Sarri played him in a holding midfield role to let N’Golo Kante roam further up the pitch.

Sarri (right) brought Jorginho to Chelsea in 2018 on the same day he signed as Blues manager

But despite a rocky start, Jorginho has scored seven goals and registered two assists in 37 competitive games for Chelsea this season. And while Jorginho is an established starter at Chelsea, a move to Turin should not be ruled out, according to the player’s agent. 

Jorginho’s agent Joao Santos recently admitted that they would listen to ‘important clubs in Italy’.

Santos told Tuttomercatoweb: ‘I don’t know whether Juve want Jorginho or not, as he has three years left on his Chelsea contract. We’ll see… he is a professional, so if an important club in Italy calls, then why not?’




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Borussia Dortmund think Man Utd will seal Jadon Sancho transfer this summer

Borussia Dortmund think Jadon Sancho will join Manchester United in this summer’s transfer window, reports say. The England international is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s top target, having enjoyed a terrific campaign in the Bundesliga. And while Real Madrid, Chelsea and Barcelona have all been linked it’s the Red Devils who appear in pole position to secure the teenager’s signature.

Borussia Dortmund star Sancho has been a sensation at the Westfalenstadion ever since his arrival from Manchester City in 2017.

He’s scored 14 Bundesliga goals this season and contributed 17 assists, too, to establish himself as one of the best attacking players on the planet.

His fine form has sparked interest from Manchester United, with Solskjaer determined to bring the forward to Old Trafford.

And 90Min say Dortmund – and the Red Devils – think Sancho will be returning to England with Solskjaer’s side this summer.

A source is quoted as saying: “This is a stand-off between the two clubs, Dortmund are letting United know that they don’t have to sell and won’t be forced into it.

“Whilst United are insistent they won’t pay too much in the current climate.

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“Despite the recent waves, the expectation from both sides is that this deal will get done – at some point this summer.”

United are willing to hand Sancho the No 7 shirt made famous by the likes of David Beckham, George Best, Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo over the years.

It was most-recently worn by Alexis Sanchez, who is currently spending the campaign on loan at Inter Milan.

But United feel Sancho can fare better than the likes of Memphis Depay and Angel Di Maria if given the jersey.

Interest from the superpowers of Europe lingers, though.

Real Madrid have been linked as Los Blancos still hunt a sufficient replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, who departed for Juventus in 2018.

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Barcelona are in the hunt, too, although their preference remains a double swoop for Neymar and Lautaro Martinez.

Bayern Munich are also in the picture – but Dortmund wouldn’t want to lose another prized asset to their fierce rivals.

While United are seemingly expectant regarding a deal for Sancho, Dimitar Berbatov has warned the Dortmund star to seriously consider his next move.

He told Betfair: “Sancho is unbelievable, he has 14 goals and 15 assists, it is unbelievable, and it speaks volume about the way he is developing, the speed, the goals, the passing and his eye for the pass.

“He isn’t selfish, if you have 15 assists it must be because you play the ball whenever you have the chance and someone is in a better position.

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“Sancho moved to Germany at a very young age and it looks to be paying off massively in the way that he is developing.

“That was maybe the best decision he has made so far, to go there and play because I think he, his agent and family knew he was good enough to play, so when someone isn’t giving you a chance at one place of course you go and find somewhere to play and it was a great decision on his part, he is developing and now big teams are coming after him.

“I don’t know if now is the right time for him to go to Manchester United.

“I have mentioned it before, I have my doubts here because at United there’s Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Daniel James.”

As well as Sancho, United are also targeting Moussa Dembele, Jude Bellingham and Jack Grealish this summer.

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Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich: Does home advantage still exist without the fans?

When the Bundesliga made its return, only one of the nine home teams on the first weekend of action emerged with the three points.

It was no surprise that this team was Borussia Dortmund, 4-0 winners over rivals Schalke at an empty Westfalenstadion. But perhaps they should still be more worried than most.

Those opening results were an early indication of something that has long been suspected – home advantage is diminished if not neutralised when supporters are absent.

A study of almost 200 matches across Europe that had been played behind closed doors revealed that the chances of the home team winning dipped significantly.

The crowd is able to inspire or intimidate and, even in the era of VAR, there is the potential for minor decisions to be influenced and shape the flow of the game.

But why is this a particular problem for Dortmund?

Dortmund’s average attendance exceeds 80,000 – making them the best-supported team in Europe – and those supporters are more vocal than most too.

So heightened are the senses that former Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp once compared emerging from the tunnel to a packed Westfalenstadion like the feeling of being born.

“You look to your left and it seems like there are 150,000 people up on the terrace all going completely nuts,” Klopp said of the ground’s Sudtribune, also known as the Yellow Wall.

“If you are the enemy, it crushes you but if you have her at your back as a goalkeeper, it is a fantastic feeling,” said former Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller.

Asked before one game whether it was the manager or the players in the Dortmund team that most concerned him, ex-Bayern Munich captain Bastian Schweinsteiger made it clear.

“It’s the Yellow Wall I’m afraid of,” he replied.

Erling Haaland even got goosebumps when he first experienced the atmosphere.

  • Who wins behind closed doors?
  • Bundesliga news
  • Bundesliga results

Although Dortmund produced a confident performance to win away to Wolfsburg on Saturday, their reliance on their home form is there for all to see this season.

In fact, Dortmund boast the only unbeaten home record in the Bundesliga this season.

  • Bundesliga table
  • Bundesliga fixtures

While that might not be so surprising given the talent within the team, what is telling is that they pick up an unusually high proportion of their points in front of their own fans.

Over the past six seasons, Dortmund have secured 229 points at home compared to 150 points away from home. In five of those six seasons, they have picked up a greater proportion of their points at home than the league average.

In short, home advantage matters more to Dortmund.

Just as pertinently given that they are in a race for the title, home advantage matters more to Dortmund than it does to Bayern Munich – the league leaders and champions in each of those previous five seasons as well as the two prior to that.

In the opening 26 games of this season, Bayern picked up 29 points at home and 29 points away. Over the course of the past six seasons, their spread of points has been much more balanced than Dortmund with 53 per cent coming at home compared to their 60 per cent.

In fact, Bayern have picked up a lower percentage of their points at home than the league average in every one of the past six Bundesliga seasons. That would suggest that the influence of the crowd is not so pivotal to Bayern’s success on the pitch.

They have the biggest budget and, in terms of reputation at least, they have the best players. Remove the intangibles and they will be the team who emerges victorious.

The lingering question that remained this season prior to the lockdown was whether or not Bayern Munich could go to Borussia Dortmund and get a result in the frenzied cauldron that is the Westfalenstadion on the day of Der Klassiker. Could they cope with the Yellow Wall?

If they could not, Bayern’s four-point advantage at the top of the Bundesliga would fall to just one and the momentum would be with Dortmund for the run-in.

Now they must pull off the feat without their fans there to support them.

Dortmund did just that in the derby. They celebrated the win by wandering over towards that vast stand behind the goal, rejoicing with the absent supporters on the Yellow Wall.

It was a spontaneous decision, according to Dortmund player Julian Brandt, and an indication that their presence was still felt, but he did acknowledge that it was “completely different” without the supporters there cheering them on.

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Hertha Berlin 4-0 Union Berlin: Derby day success for Hertha

Four second-half goals helped Hertha Berlin to a derby victory over Union Berlin as the hosts celebrated their second successive win since the Bundesliga resumed.

Hertha brushed aside their city rivals thanks to second-half goals from Vedad Ibisevic, Dodi Lukebakio, Matheus Cunha and Dedryck Boyata to follow up Saturday’s 3-0 win at Hoffenheim when the league restarted after two months of inactivity due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Played behind closed doors, the result lifted Hertha one place up to 10th on 34 points from 27 games while promoted Union, who won the reverse fixture in November 1-0 thanks to a late penalty, stayed 12th on 30 points.

  • How Hertha and Union lined up
  • Bundesliga table | Results | Fixtures

Berlin is blue and white 🔵⚪#BSCFCU #hahohe pic.twitter.com/dkbkDQ4oVJ

Visiting keeper Rafal Gikiewicz pulled off four excellent saves to deny Lukebakio and Cunha before Ibisevic opened the floodgates in driving rain when he headed home an inch-perfect cross by Marvin Plattenhardt in the 51st minute.

Hertha doubled their lead barely 20 seconds later as they won possession straight from the restart and Lukebakio rounded Gikiewicz before he steered the ball home with a clinical finish from 10 metres.

Both scorers had to keep their teammates at bay from joining the celebrations, in line with the rules put in place for a return to action, which Hertha broke in their win over Hoffenheim, prompting a warning from league officials.

The lively Cunha added the third on the hour with a sizzling low shot into the far corner as he showed some neat footwork before Ibisevic teed him up on the edge of the penalty area.

Belgian defender Boyata put the icing on the cake for Hertha when he powered in a 77th-minute header from a Plattenhadt corner, with toothless Union offering nothing at the other end.

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Premier League: The science of getting a footballer fit again and the ‘perfect storm’ that awaits them

For administrators whose leagues are looking to get back up and running, all eyes have been on the Bundesliga. But for sports scientists aligned to some of the world’s biggest football clubs, the last month has been spent taking notes.

German sides “returned” to training on 6 April after leagues were put on hold from 13 March. On the training grounds of top-flight leaders Bayern Munich and bottom-of-the-table Paderborn, players reacquainted themselves with the ball in small groups, going through warm-ups and regular technical drills albeit without any physical contact. And while the major focus was on creating and maintaining safe distances in line with Covid-19 protocol, just as much energy has been put into bringing players back to competitive fitness as quickly as possible.

Coronavirus has presented every sector of life with unique challenges to face, and that is no different for sports science. Yet while the circles they inhabit are deeply competitive, scientists and strength-and-conditioning coaches have been working together across the board, sharing information and, in some cases, shown willing to part with information that will invariably cede what might have been a competitive edge. Small circles and a peer review mindset within the community have gone a long way towards open dialogue between Germany and English counterparts, long before the concocting of the Premier League’s Project Restart.

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During a webinar at the end of April, Tony Strudwick, head of performance at Sheffield Wednesday and the Welsh FA, outlined key factors professional football clubs were considering when it came to planning “consolidated preseason” regimes. Among them were considerations such as where a player lives.

“We have some players who live in a flat who don’t have access to parks,” said Strudwick of those at Sheffield Wednesday. “Some have access to fields, some have access to treadmills. The disparity of where the athletes are at is very great.”

That is not unique to a side 15th in the Championship. Many Premier League players reside in flats, and no matter how luxurious, a lack of immediately accessible space impinges on how much regular outdoor work can be done.

As such, clubs have used various data collection means, using basic running apps like Strava or more exhaustive data through Catapult – used by half of the Premier League – to clock distances run, how bodies have been reacting to intense workouts and maximum velocities. All while fitness coaches and nutritionists have touched base with their players on a daily basis. Even those with knowledge on their side have been forced to adjust regularly. Strudwick estimates his plans have changed around 12 times since English football pulled down the shutter two months ago.

One of the biggest lessons learned in Germany has been the need to make the most of the two weeks prior to returning to the training ground. In regular pre-season, “loading” players with aerobic and anaerobic work through long runs and interval training to build physiological capacity dominates the schedule when players return from their summers.

But the need to reacquaint themselves with formations, live and dead-ball set-plays and transitional work means players will spend more time with a ball at their feet than usual so soon after such a break. With the onus on getting matches played as soon as possible, and with contact time with coaches on the training ground limited due to various restrictions, football will take precedence over fitness.

Though there will still be tests to measure fitness levels, they will become embedded among technical and tactical drills. A lack of friendlies, too, is another stumbling block.

For these reasons, there’s an acceptance that the first rounds upon league resumptions will be relatively downbeat barring the unbridled enthusiasm of football fans across the world.

“Without that ability to ease into things, the intensity of the matches will be lower,” Kieran Howle, a senior sports scientist at Catapult, tells The Independent. “As you see at the starts of seasons, things pick up and get more frenetic once they have worked their way into the season and built into that match fitness. It is going to be interesting seeing how players get their players match fit that early.

“Generally I’d say it takes five or six weeks into a season before we really see players at full match fitness because you can’t replicate match intensity within training. Only to an extent, especially with the jeopardy of points on the line, quality of opposition and, usually, crowds driving player activity. Trying to build that match fitness into players in a reduced time frame becomes even harder.”

However slower games of lower quality are the least of Howle’s concerns. For him and countless others, there is trepidation over how players will cope with being thrown into turbulent schedules with less-than-optimal preparation.

During research on fixture congestion and its effect on recovery and injury in professional football, Howle found that during what he terms “acute congested periods” – multiple matches with fewer than four days recovery between them – players were more than twice as likely to get injured, with an increased likelihood of sustaining moderate and severe injuries such as muscle tears.

As Howle points out himself, it makes sense: playing more games increases the likelihood of getting hurt. But the levels of fatigue is one to pay particular attention to given what is due to be asked of players.

“Traditionally when you play one game in a week there’s a reduced recovery for 48 hours after. By 72 hours, players have generally returned to pre-match levels of recovery.

“But when we see players competing in two games a week, that time extends. In many cases we found that players were taking as long as four days to recover effectively.”

Coupled with inadequate preparation, Howle believes this could have a multiplying effect on the occurrence and scale of injury. “It’s almost the perfect storm,” he says. “And teams are aware of that”.

“If you have short truncated pre-season leading into congested periods effectively straight away, and you’re not doing all of the right things then injuries are going to come.”

It is why as well as getting their players to make the most of their time at home, teams are looking at how they can manage their squads and focus primarily on recovery between matches. That again will require incorporation of data: looking at which drills will be most effective at ticking over without sapping energy reserves. Beasting players between rounds, as has usually been the way, is off the table.

Indeed a break in play has meant the need to break away from conventional wisdom. From these unprecedented times will come new learnings and methods.

Football returning in this manner will provide unique data on how players deal with congested schedules from a standing start and the impact on performance when playing behind closed doors. A series of hypotheticals coming to life that could challenge how we think about the game.

Football as we know it is changing, for the time being at least. But what we know of football might be changing for good.

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British racing hopes for the best as French close in on return

British racing hopes for the best as French close in on return to action after almost two months of inactivity amid coronavirus pandemic

  • Racing is expected to be reintroduced in France on Monday after lockdown
  • The coronavirus pandemic has led to almost two months of sporting inactivity
  • Germany hosted its first behind-closed doors meeting in Hanover on Thursday
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Racing returns in France on Monday and this might be seen as a positive for British officials hoping for encouraging news about their hopes to restart the sport after Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the public on Sunday.

Racing is already back in Germany. But the fact that the resumption of the sport across the Channel came perilously close to falling at the last hurdle will be sobering, especially as the sport in racing-friendly Ireland is now looking like a June 8 resumption is the best it can hope for.

Trials for the French 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas, as well as the presence of 2019 French Derby winner Sottsass in the Prix D’Harcourt, will mean French racing will return with a bang in a 10-race card at Paris track Longchamp with meetings also taking place at Compiegne and Toulouse.

British racing could receive a boost when the sport makes its return in France on Monday

But the delicate tightrope officials are treading means Olivier Delloye, chief executive of ruling body France Galop, will not be sounding a fanfare. Delloye said: ‘I will definitely not be promoting racing in the general media. We have to keep low key. The fact we are resuming racing when some other sports are still not allowed can create tension.

‘The big challenge is to make all the people involved in race meetings strictly observe the rules to make sure we do not jeopardise the decision to resume.’ Delloye’s comments reflect the belief that French government jitters were not caused by concern about the sport’s ability to operate within biosecurity guidelines.

Some French media reports have suggested significant figures connected with football — which is banned in France until September — may have lobbied the Government to have a second look at racing, which comes under the control of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Confirmation French racing could start came eight days ago. Delloye added: ‘On Thursday evening when we heard the first rumours that there was a last-minute change of mind at the top level of Government, I was very worried.

Racing returned in Germany on Thursday in a behind-closed-doors meeting at Hanover

‘It was a big surprise because everything was in order. Perhaps it is the difference that has been made between racing and some other big sports.’

Racing in Paris — a hotspot for COVID-19 — has been approved by the police.

Delloye said between 200 and 300 will attend Longchamp. There will be one groom per horse, a trainer or his representative and no owners.

Everyone at the track will be temperature tested, while jockeys will wear masks before and during races.

But, unlike the system understood to be being proposed by British racing, there is no pre-racing testing regime. Also, there will be 18 runners in four of the Longchamp races, while races in Britain will be initially limited to 12 runners.




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Liverpool slammed for ‘throwing Sterling under the bus’ by former youth star

Former Liverpool youngster Ryan McLaughlin believes the Reds "threw Raheem Sterling under the bus" when he was just 17.

The two teenagers were on a pre-season tour of America in 2012.

Brendan Rodgers had taken over at Anfield after a stellar few years with Swansea and famously clashed with Sterling.

Liverpool were filming a fly-on-the-wall documentary which captured the confrontation between the pair.

And McLaughlin, who had a front row seat for the heated debate, felt it was harsh of the club to air the dispute.

“I just don’t understand why the club threw him under the bus with that,” he told Goal.

“For a young kid, that could knock you completely. He was 17, and it made him out to be something he wasn’t. I look back and think ‘imagine that had been me’.

"Your family is watching it, you’d be devastated. Those things should have been kept behind-closed-doors.

“Rodgers calling him out, I’ve no problem with that. He’s the manager. But to air it? I felt that was wrong. It was poorly managed.

"It’s probably something that stuck with Raheem for a long time afterwards, which was unfair. He’s had that tag, when in reality anyone who spent time around him would tell you what a nice lad he is.”

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Sterling burst on to the scene in 2012 but his relationship with Liverpool fans went south when he declined the offer of a new deal and subsequently headed to Manchester City in 2015.

He has been met with a hostile reception at Anfield ever since but McLaughlin claims he was always destined to reach the top.

“Raheem Sterling was special, even then,” he added. “It doesn’t surprise me at all what he’s gone on to achieve.

“The difference with him and any other player I played with in youth football is simple; he was so smart on the pitch. We’d all be getting taught about which run to make and when to make it, but he’d already know.

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Tampa Bay Rays minor leaguer Blake Bivens found out family was dead over Facebook

Tampa Bay Rays minor league pitcher Blake Bivens said he discovered his family had been killed over Facebook while he was reading in the airport.

Bivens' wife, Emily, 14-month child Cullen, and mother-in-law Joan Bernard were killed in Keeling, Virginia last August. Police arrested his brother-in-law, Matthew Bernard, charging him with three counts of first-degree homicide. 

"First headline I see is two females and a small child were gone," Bivens said Sunday during a taped service at The River Church in Danville, Va. "I immediately knew that was them. I found out my family was gone over a Facebook headline. I just immediately began to scream in the middle of the airport.''

The 24-year-old pitcher was playing for the Montgomery Biscuits, a Double-A team affiliated with the Rays. Bivens was told by the team to return home from a game in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but wasn't sure why until he looked at his mobile device. 

A baseball sits on the dirt before the Toronto Blue Jays play the Tampa Bay Rays at Florida Auto Exchange Park. (Photo: David Manning, USA TODAY Sports)

Bivens was telling his story to explain how he's leaned on his faith during heartbreak. 

"I think the hardest moment for me was when I got home and I walked in my son's bedroom for the first time and realized I was never going to see him on this Earth again,'' he said. "That was the worst moment in my life. Nothing ever will come to being, to feeling the way I felt at that moment. Then again, I know I will see him again one day, and it won't be long.

"When I read (John 16:33), 'Take heart, for I have overcome the world,' it changed, it completely flipped a switch in my heart. And from that moment on I knew that this was not going to beat me, this was not going to beat family. I was going to live in victory the rest of my life, and I was going to use this as a testimony to show what he has done for me he can also do for others."

Bivens spent the rest of the 2019 campaign off recovering, and made a trip with his father to Tropicana Field in September to see his Rays teammates. He reported to spring training in March before baseball shut down due to COVID-19. 

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Barcelona deny naming rights deal with Mike Tyson’s cannabis company for Nou Camp

Barcelona have not been contacted by Mike Tyson’s cannabis company over the naming rights for the Nou Camp. The La Liga side will sell the rights to raise money for those fighting against the coronavirus pandemic.

Barcelona are open to offers from anyone although they will only entertain serious offers.

Tyson’s business partner Alki David said over the weekend rebranding the famous ground as the Swissx Stadium would be ‘an amazing idea.’

“It’s something we’ve specifically been looking for to adopt in our company and it seemed like an amazing idea,” he told BBC Sport.

“My company is a cannabis company and Spain has a long tradition within the European Union as being a leader or a liberal in the road towards legalisation, so it’s evolved quite naturally.”

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However, a source at the Catalan club told ESPN ‘there has been no contact’ from Swissx and there ‘have been no firm offers’ on the naming rights yet.

Barca vice president Jordi Cardoner explained the decision to sell the naming rights for the first time since the stadium opened in 1957.

“We want to send a universal message: For the first time someone will have the opportunity to put their name on Camp Nou and the revenues will go to all of humanity, not just Barca,” he said.

“The initiative arose in an emergency situation.

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“We think that we have to have a very quick response, putting our crown jewel at the service [of the fight].”

Barcelona had planned on selling the naming rights for the first time in 2023-24.

That was as part of plans to redevelop the ground which holds over 99,000 fans.

The La Liga giants were hoping to bring in €300million up front for a 25-year contract to pay for the work needed on the ground.

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  • Messi wants Barcelona to sell one star instead of Coutinho

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi would rather Barcelona sell Ousmane Dembele instead of letting Philippe Coutinho join Chelsea in the summer transfer window.

The Brazil international, who is on loan at Bayern Munich, has struggled to impress since quitting Liverpool in 2018.

It’s understood Chelsea are eyeing the playmaker ahead of the summer transfer window.

Coutinho’s agent has talked up a return to the Premier League in the coming months.

The ex-Liverpool star, who would cost just under £80m, would be a marquee signing for Chelsea this summer.

However, according to The Athletic, Messi and senior leaders in the Nou Camp dressing room want Coutinho to stay.

It’s claimed Messi and co. would rather Dembele is sold in the summer for Barcelona to raise funds.

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