Alex Song has admitted he left Arsenal for Barcelona

The 32-year-old spent seven seasons with the Gunners, making over 200 appearances for the north London club. Song made the switch to Barca for £15 million in the summer of 2012, but only played 65 times for the Spanish club in four years. The Cameroon international confessed that he was careless with his spending during his time at Arsenal, and when Barcelona offered him a mega-money contract, he didn’t hesitate for a second.

‘Most footballers live beyond their means. I was at Arsenal for eight years but only began to earn a good living in the last four,’ Song said in an Instagram live video with Pascal Siakam. ‘That was because my salary went up a lot – but also because I came to realise what a waster I was. ‘When I first joined them I was getting £15,000 a week. I was a young lad, and I was ecstatic. ‘I wanted to rub shoulders with the big boys. I could shop wherever I wanted and have crazy nights out.

‘I would go to training and see Thierry Henry – the King – turn up in an absolute gem of a car. I told myself I wanted the same car at all costs. ‘I went to the dealership, signed the papers and arranged to pay for it by standing order – and just like that I had the same car as The King. ‘But I swear that I had to hand the car back inside two months. All my money was going on filling it with petrol. ‘I told them, ‘Give me a Toyota – this car’s too much for me’. ‘When I next went to training Thierry asked me, ‘Where’s your car, son?’ I told him it’s on a higher level than me. ‘During my entire time at Arsenal I couldn’t even save £100,000, while people thought I must be a millionaire.

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Badgers back in the mix as a Big Ten title contender

Not even the loss of superstar running back Jonathan Taylor can quell the title talk around Madison, as replacing a legend will fall on the responsibility of many. Nakia Watson and Garrett Groshek will share some of the carries early, but what’s expected to be a committee approach has opened the door for a number of young players to take a stab at contributing to the Badgers’ ground efforts. 

Perhaps the confidence comes from the presence of Jack Coan and Graham Mertz, the former coming off a strong season of starting experience at quarterback in 2019 and the latter looking to push for playing time after losing out on the job to the vet a year ago. But more than likely, it’s a result of the defense, which should rank among the best in the country in 2020 even after losing star linebackers Zach Baun and Chris Orr. 

With the defense taking over as the face of the program, Wisconsin can again fill the role of that one team in the country no one wants to play. I can see it now: the physicality and consistency of effort that we’ve come to expect from Jim Leonhard’s groups becomes a trademark for the entire team, and suddenly everyone’s losing 24-14 games in Madison. It’s not all turn-key on defense — or offense, for that matter, — but there’s enough in place to expect more of the same from one of the top programs in the sport.  

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New medical protocol could be breakthrough

Oct 12, 2019; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk (97) celebrates after tackling Michigan State Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke (14) during the third quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The new protocol was drawn up today and has been passed by the Lega Serie A to the FIGC, who in turn gave it to Minister for Sport Vincenzo Spadafora, who has already handed it over to the CTS (scientific technical committee) for evaluation.A verdict should be received over the next few days, at which point Serie A teams can finally begin to train in groups with full contact rather than by keeping social distancing.

The 14-page document included several changes, such as allowing players to return home if they use their own mode of transport, wearing masks and gloves.If there is a positive case, that individual will be isolated immediately, then all the others in the group will isolate within a fiduciary building, for example the training ground or a hotel that is used only by them.

This is a sort of middle ground, meaning the squad is isolated, but not automatically for two weeks.More importantly, it means they will be able to continue training with each other, but are isolated from their families and other teams.

During this period, they will be swabbed every 48 hours for two weeks, as well as blood tests once every 10 days, until they are declared free from COVID-19.However, all this is just for the period of group training and other rules entirely will need to be agreed for when the Serie A matches can resume, which in theory is from June 13.

Sky Sport Italia are confident this will be the breakthrough needed, so that teams can begin contact training without fear the season will be cut short again immediately.

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The thing I miss the most is the spontaneity to move around

I am trying to keep myself updated, too. In Germany, the situation is completely different, and their decisions are not the same. It’s interesting. I think it’s necessary to be informed about what is happening.

It’s getting better in Spain. The mortality rate has peaked, and now it’s going down. I hope that trend continues. I hope people respect the restrictions of each of the four phases that have been established in the country so we can return to normality soon.

We have definitely learned a lot about ourselves. There are many negatives, but this situation has also taught us things that maybe we will now reflect on. People realise how well-connected the world is, and that maybe it’s not normal to fly from one point to another all the time. It’s a luxury. Maybe we didn’t appreciate that as we should.

I am curious to see how people behave with each other when the restrictions are lifted, too. Will they shake hands? Will they try to avoid direct contact? Maybe they will at the beginning, but in the long-term? I am not a fan of shaking hands. I can also be respectful and nice to people by saying hello and looking at them. In Spain, for example, it’s very normal to kiss each other on each cheek as a greeting. People are very close to each other when they communicate. Maybe this will change. I don’t know. Nobody knows how life will be post-coronavirus, but I am curious to find out.

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We have fresh fruit and vegetables delivered every Thursday

Spain has been hit particularly hard. We weren’t allowed to leave the house for almost eight weeks, with restrictions now finally beginning to be lifted, but you can’t look at things from a negative point of view. These circumstances make us value the things that are really important.

As well as reading books and rewatching La Casa de Papel (“Money Heist,” on Netflix) for a second time (my wife hadn’t seen it!), cooking is taking up a lot of my time. My wife and I are making fresh food and looking for new recipes every day. We have made some really nice meals, like a lentil dal we cooked the other day. Whoa! That was amazing. Maybe a bit heavy, but it was really good.

Ben is super easy. It’s great. He’s growing so fast, and it’s so nice to be with him. You are able see so many things when you are with him every day. He’s very active with his hands, feet and eyes, following and reacting to everything. It’s funny because just as we’re keeping an eye on him, it’s like he’s keeping an eye on us. When he is sleeping during the day, it becomes a game of quickly checking the emails and messages you need to reply to. I must admit, I can be disorganised when it comes to sending replies. And if Ben’s asking for attention, I try to be with him as much as possible.

For me, that’s meant being able to throw myself into fatherhood. My son Ben is 4 months old. My wife, Dani, would wake up with him in the night most of the time when I had training or a game the next day. She was definitely lacking more sleep than me! But in lockdown, it’s been different. We can alternate.

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We carried on training as normal until March 13

Over 1,100 players and officials tested negative for the virus at the end of April and everyone entering the stadium had temperatures taken. Anyone not on the pitch or warming up also had to wear masks at all times. Most managed to do just that with some snazzy club-branded protective equipment on display, but there were times when it slipped.

We were travelling to Napoli at the end of February to play a Champions League game when things began to happen. There had already been coronavirus cases in the north of Italy and we had our temperatures taken when we arrived in the country: We were all OK. In general, the mood was still that the pandemic we find ourselves in now was quite far away. Little did we know, it was right on our doorstep.

The virus was uncontrollable. It soon arrived in Spain. People got scared, but nobody expected a situation like the one we are experiencing now.

Two weeks later, on March 7, we played Real Sociedad at Camp Nou. The following week, La Liga was suspended. Nobody expected it to happen that fast, but the league made the right decision to stop playing football. There were already people dying.

Coaches had talked of how difficult it was in preseason friendlies to get their instructions across to players during a game while masked, and there were occasions when masks were lifted. Not all substitutes wore the masks correctly at all times, but overall, it worked pretty well.

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The latest players linked with a Newcastle exit

The young midfielder is keen to sort out a new deal at Newcastle – if the Saudi takeover goes through (The Sun, April 19)

Javier Manquillo – Fenerbahce will make a move for the Newcastle right-back as they look to replace Mauricio Isla this summer (Fotomac, April 14)

Newcastle’s prospective new owners have made the Argentine their number one choice to be the next manager at St. James’ Park and are willing to pay him £19m a year to take charge (Sky Sports, April 29); Newcastle will have to pay Tottenham £12.5m if they appoint the Argentine as manager this month – but they can sign him for nothing after May 31 (ESPN, May 5)

Jamie Sterry, Jack Colback and Rob Elliot – All three players are set to leave the club on free transfers this summer (Newcastle Chronicle, April 12)

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