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Manchester United considering three options over Odion Ighalo’s future amid FIFA proposals

Manchester United are concerned about their ability to keep Odion Ighalo beyond May. The Shanghai Greenland Shenhua loanee is contracted at Old Trafford until the end of next month. He has impressed since sealing a shock switch on the final day of January’s transfer window.

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Manchester United are open to keeping Ighalo but are aware his loan contract is likely to cover the remainder of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign.

Professional football has been suspended since the beginning of March due to the coronavirus pandemic and is unlikely to resume until June.

As a result, Premier League action plus continental competitions are set to run deep into the summer causing issues over players’ contracts which are due to expire.

FIFA have laid out proposals for short-term renewals to cover the rest of this term.

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“It is now obvious that the current season will not end when people thought it would,” FIFA said in a statement.

“Therefore, it is proposed that contracts be extended until such time that the season does actually end.

“A similar principle applies to contracts due to begin when the new season starts, meaning the entry into force of such contracts is delayed until the next season actually does start.”

According to ESPN, Old Trafford officials are concerned that the proposals will be difficult to implement in practice because Shanghai Shenhua will want Ighalo back in time for the beginning of the Chinese Super League season, which has been delayed by the COVID-19 outbreak.

It is claimed the Premier League giants are considering three options over the former Watford striker’s future.

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They include trying to renegotiate Ighalo’s loan, attempting to sign the 30-year-old on a permanent basis or allowing him to return to China leaving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer short on options in attack.

While they are eager to keep the Nigeria international, United are aware that Shanghai Shenhua have the upper hand in negotiations.

Ighalo has admitted he would like to stay at the Theatre of Dreams.

“I am inspired by a lot of things at United,” said Ighalo. “I am really inspired and I am looking forward to spending more time with the team.

“Seeing the club from the outside you don’t know how big it is. But when you are inside you know how big the club is.

“I am inspired by the way the club is structured, I am inspired by the direction of the club.

“I am inspired by the development of the young players and how they are coming through from the grassroots to the first-team.”

Ighalo has scored four goals in eight appearances since arriving on loan. A permanent transfer would likely cost around £15million.

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Man Utd chief Ed Woodward unlikely to sign two players because of Alexis Sanchez

Manchester United chief Ed Woodward has been linked with Antoine Griezmann and Gareth Bale repeatedly over the years. And, this summer, the Barcelona and Real Madrid players are set to become available. However, because of Alexis Sanchez, Woodward is unlikely to bring the La Liga stars to Old Trafford when the transfer window reopens.

Manchester United no longer sign proven and tested talent but, in January 2018, sensed an opportunity with Sanchez.

The Chile international had just months to run on his contract at Arsenal and had established himself as one of the Premier League’s best performers in the years previously, propelling the Gunners to two FA Cup trophies along the way.

United saw Sanchez as a player capable of winning them a first Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

And that’s why Woodward decided to give him a massive salary, giving the 31-year-old blockbuster wages close to £400,000 a week.

However, things didn’t work out.

Prior to his loan move to Inter Milan in the summer Sanchez had found the net just five times – seeing his stock fall drastically along the way.

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And, these days, Woodward is a far more cautious man.

Sanchez has given United a problem. He’s not good enough to keep, with the Inter loanee scoring just once over at the San Siro.

And he’s too expensive to sell, too, with clubs deterred by the former Arsenal star’s massive pay packet at Old Trafford.

In recent times, United have been linked with both Bale and Griezmann amid their struggles at Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.

But Woodward is unlikely to go for either player because of how disastrous the Sanchez transfer turned out to be.

Bale’s days at Real Madrid appear numbered.

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Zinedine Zidane actually wanted to sell the Wales international last summer but a shock move to the Chinese Super League collapsed at the last minute.

Now, Real will look for a buyer in order to raise funds for summer swoops potentially involving Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe.

But United are likely to swerve him, knowing full well that Bale’s best days are a thing of the past.

And they’re set to adopt a similar stance when it comes to Griezmann.

United thought the France international would move to Old Trafford in 2017, shortly after the club had won the Europa League under Mourinho.

But that didn’t happen and, just last summer, he finally left Atletico Madrid for Barcelona.

Griezmann has toiled at the Nou Camp, failing to replicate the same brilliant form he displayed at the Wanda Metropolitano.

And he’s been backed to join United, with Catalonian media suggesting the Red Devils are interested.

However, that’s again unlikely to be the case.

Like Bale he’s on a huge pay packet over at Barcelona and United, given how they had their fingers burned with Sanchez, won’t be coming to his rescue.

Instead, they’d prefer to invest their cash in players on a upwards career trajectory – rather than a downwards one.

And that’s why neither Bale or Griezmann are likely to end up at the Theatre of Dreams this summer.

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Chelsea news LIVE: Fresh talks with striker who had verbal transfer agreement in January

Chelsea news LIVE updates: All the latest news and gossip from Stamford Bridge

Thursday, April 9

  • Frank Lampard’s Chelsea are ‘tracking’ Juventus star Aaron Ramsey
  • Barcelona are not interested in signing Chelsea playmaker Willian
  • Chelsea are in talks to sign Barcelona flop Philippe Coutinho on loan
  • Chelsea have opened contract talks with Olivier Giroud’s representatives

Aaron Ramsey interest

Chelsea are ‘tracking’ Juventus star Aaron Ramsey.

The Wales international, 29, arrived in Turin from Arsenal on a free transfer in July 2019 and has managed four goals and one assist in 24 appearances in all competitions.

Despite a reasonably bright start to life under Maurizio Sarri, It’s thought Ramsey, who earns a staggering £400,000-a-week in Italy, could well return to the Premier League.

Transfermarketweb claim Chelsea are tracking the attacking midfielder, while Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal are also potential destinations.

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Philippe Coutinho latest

Chelsea are interested in signing Barcelona flop Philippe Coutinho.

According to Spanish publication Sport, Chelsea have already opened talks with Barcelona about signing the 27-year-old playmaker.

However, despite Frank Lampard’s side being interested, it appears the Blues want to explore the option of taking Coutinho on a season-long loan – rather than commit to a permanent deal.

The Catalan giants would like any loan move to include an obligation to buy the player at the end of the spell for just over £57million.

The report claims, Manchester United, Tottenham and Everton are also all in the race. Leicester had also shown some interest but the high loan fees appear to have scuppered their interest.

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Olivier Giroud talks

Chelsea have opened contract talks with Olivier Giroud.

The France striker, 33, was close to leaving Stamford Bridge in January but Frank Lampard’s side were unable to find a suitable replacement.

Inter Milan were the closest side to securing his signature and even had a verbal agreement in place to bring Giroud to the San Siro.

Goal report that the Blues are in negotiations with Giroud’s representatives but are only expected to offer a one-year deal due to their policy for over-30 players.

Willian snub

Barcelona are NOT interested in signing Chelsea star Willian.

That’s according to Sport, who claim the Brazilian was offered to Barcelona but the Spanish champions rejected the opportunity to bring him to the Nou Camp.

Willian, 31, is widely expected to leave Chelsea when his contract expires in June. Talks have taken place to extend his stay but the two parties can’t agree on terms.

Sport say Premier League rivals Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain are now his most likely destination.

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Man Utd star Aaron Wan-Bissaka risks wrath of fans with Sadio Mane comment

Manchester United star Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been one of the standout players of the season but the defender risked the wrath of Red Devils’ fans after his comments about Liverpool star Sadio Mane.

Wan-Bissaka recently admitted that one of his treasured possessions is Sadio Mane’s shirt.

The 22-year-old only arrived at Old Trafford from Crystal Palace last season in a deal worth £50m but insisted he had always wanted to collect Mane’s shirt.

Wan-Bissaka was asked which player he most liked to swap jerseys with and he responded by revealing that he already has the Liverpool forward’s shirt.

“Mane – I got his from last season,” Wan-Bissaka said.

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However, this is not the only comment that could cause tension between United fans and the defender.

Wan-Bissaka also insisted he is desperate for Premier League football to return after football was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Even though it would likely see Liverpool, who are 25 points clear at the top of the table, claim their first Premier League title.

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“I want the season to continue – I am missing it already,” he said.

“For the teams that have done so well this year, I am sure they want to finish where they left off.”

United are currently fifth in the table and are three points off fourth-placed Chelsea.

And while United’s current position could be enough to secure them Champions League football next season, if Manchester City’s appeal over their two-season European club football ban is upheld, many at the club would still like play to resume so they can attempt at securing at least fourth place.

Meanwhile, Chelsea defender Reece James believes players will need a mini pre-season to get fit after having been in isolation for such a long time.

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“If it does continue then we will need to get back up to the fitness level we were at, as we haven’t played for so long we need to be at the level where we can play week in, week-out again,” he explained.

“I think if it doesn’t re-commence, it will be tough on the teams that have been flying and hold good records.”

The Premier League has confirmed that it will not resume at the beginning of May and stated that “the 2019/20 season will only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so”.

* James and Wan-Bissaka were speaking on behalf of #FootballUnited, a charity initiative set up by professional footballers to help key-workers and their families through the National Emergencies Trust.

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Man Utd stance on beating Chelsea to Philippe Coutinho transfer revealed

Manchester United remain interested in bringing Philippe Coutinho to Old Trafford even though Chelsea have started talks with Barcelona about signing the attacking midfielder. Barcelona are exploring alternative teams with regards to Coutinho as it appears that Bayern Munich will not be taking up the option to sign the 27-year-old at the end of his loan spell with them.

Coutinho has scored nine goals and provided eight assists in 32 appearances in all competitions for the German club.

And while there was some interest from the Bundesliga club their attention appears to have shifted to trying to sign Leroy Sane from Manchester City when the summer window opens.

Because of Bayern have decided that Coutinho’s stay at the Allianz Arena will not be a permanent one, Barca and the player’s representatives are not looking to quickly secure the player’s next club.

According to Spanish publication Sport, Chelsea have already held talks with Barca about the option of taking Coutinho on loan.

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However, there are still several other Premier League teams who are also still interested, with United joined by Tottenham and Everton in expressing interest.

Leicester City had also been keeping tabs on Coutinho although it seems they have backed down due to the high price of a possible loan deal.

Coutinho signed for Barcelona from Liverpool for £142million in January 2018 and the report claims that while Barca are exploring different transfer options they initially were not willing to sell the Brazilian for less than £79m (€90m).

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However, while keeping a season-long loan option on the table, Barca appear willing to allow the attacking midfielder to leave the Nou Camp if a team is willing to agree to an obligation to buy the player for just over £57million (€65m).

Chelsea have not yet agreed to such terms and are seeking to have an optional fee included in the deal rather than a mandatory one.

This leaves the door open to other clubs to make a move and hijack any transfer that could take Coutinho to Stamford Bridge.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking to add to his attacking options in the summer and while Coutinho’s form might not have been spectacular in recent times, if he can reproduce his performances for Liverpool it would be a major boost for any team in the English top flight.

During his time at Liverpool Coutinho scored 54 goals and provided 45 assists in 201 appearances in all competitions.

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As for Chelsea’s interest, boss Frank Lampard is convinced the Blues can get the most out of Coutinho and has set aside £26m (€30m) to fund the loan move and the player’s wages.

However, Barca have also not ruled out including Coutinho in any deal with Paris Saint-Germain that would see Neymar return to the Nou Camp either.

Coutinho isn’t United’s only attacking transfer target, with the club also growing increasingly confident of signing Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.

The Red Devils have also been heavily linked with Aston Villa’s talisman Jack Grealish and Birmingham City’s young prospect Jude Bellingham.

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Real Madrid eye ‘new N’Golo Kante’ as Paul Pogba transfer alternative

Real Madrid have found their ideal alternative if they are unable to secure a deal to sign Paul Pogba in the upcoming transfer window. Madrid are viewing Eduardo Camavinga as their ideal plan B if they can’t sign Manchester United ace Pogba this summer.

Madrid are still plotting a move to sign Pogba this summer.

The La Liga giants have been after the Frenchman for some time, but are cautious that they will be unable to agree terms with the Red Devils.

Pogba has been vocal about his future this season, and hinted that he wanted to try a new challenge after four years at United.

He has been linked with Juventus, but recently was claimed to have changed his mind on leaving.

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Reports stated that he had decided to stay at Old Trafford in order to play alongside new signing Bruno Fernandes.

Madrid, however, are still sniffing around him, and are expected to make a move once the window opens.

If they don’t, though, they have an alternative in mind.

Spanish outlet AS claims Madrid are looking at Rennes midfielder Camavinga as their next target.

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The 17-year-old is one of the brightest prospects in Europe, and has also been linked with United.

He is described as being a mix between N’Golo Kante and Casemiro, with the attacking ability of Pogba.

And he has attracted attention from elsewhere ahead of the window, with reports of a £43million bid from Madrid circling.

The youngster has played 25 Ligue 1 games this season, having broken into the first-team squad last season.

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Rennes manager Julien Stephan is reluctant to sell, however, and wants the teenager to stick around.

“He is a player with enormous potential, he is also a young player who will need to confirm his ability in time,” he said.

“It could be in his interest to spend an additional year with us, at the club where he was formed as a youth player.

“The reality of the market could be different, but my desire is to see Eduardo Camavinga spend an additional season at Rennes and in Ligue 1 to allow him to confirm his quality and then leave after that for a more renowned side.”

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David Beckham hailed as ‘one of the best of all time’ by Brazil legend Ronaldo

David Beckham is one of the best players of all time in the middle of midfield, according to former team-mate Ronaldo. Beckham played alongside the legendary Brazilian at Real Madrid for four years.

Beckham, who is currently on lockdown with his family, spent Wednesday afternoon on Instagram live with Ronaldo.

The iconic midfielder discussed their time together in Madrid, during which time they won La Liga together in 2007.

Ronaldo spent some of the best years of his career at the Bernabeu, scoring 83 La Liga goals in 127 games.

But he jokingly declared he should have been thanking Beckham for his deliveries during their time together.

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The legendary striker claimed Beckham was one of the best players he played alongside, while discussing their time on the pitch together.

Ronaldo said: “For me, you were one of the best of all time in the centre, the way you touch the ball, could put the ball wherever you want, and without looking at me the ball would come.

“I should thank you for many balls you gave to me.

“You were amazing.”

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Beckham was also full of praise for Ronaldo, and thanked him for playing a part in his 2003 transfer from Manchester United.

The Englishman left United after 12 years in 2003, signing for £25million.

And he thanked Ronaldo for helping him integrate into the fabric of the club.

Beckham explained that, due to the culture difference, it was difficult to make the switch from the Premier League to La Liga, but that Ronaldo helped him do it.

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He told Ronaldo: “When I moved from Manchester and I had been there my whole life, to move to Madrid was a big move for me.

“One of the first people that I ever saw was you, when you walked into the changing room it made me feel comfortable to be at the club.

“I remember you turning around to me and saying that the Brazil squad believed that if there was any English player that could play in the Brazilian team it would be me, but I never believed you!

“Because Brazilian players are the best players! You know that.”

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Premier League stars ready to take legal action after being urged to take pay cuts

Premier League stars are ready to take legal action after being urged to take pay cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic. Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week called for Premier League stars to take pay cuts to help in the fight against the deadly virus. Captains from Premier League clubs have held talks over a fund to help NHS staff on the front line.

All clubs agreed to defer and possibly cut wages by up to 30 per cent.

And The Mirror says Premier League stars have been left furious, with many ready to take legal advice.

Players feel games, which have been suspended until April 30, may not return for months.

Premier League stars don’t want their money going back to club owners.

Players, who have seen clubs put non-playing staff on furlough and take advantage of the Government scheme, are keen to make donations but they want the money to go back to charities and to help the NHS.

The Professional Footballers’ Association have urged stars to not agree pay cuts with their clubs, despite pressure from MP’s.

It’s also understood that the PFA don’t expect clubs to confirm deferrals or cuts until June or July.

A lot has been made of footballers being told to take pay cuts, with United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer defending Premier League players.

“For me, football is an easy target sometimes,” said Solskjaer.

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  • Sadio Mane gives stance on Liverpool missing out on Premier League

“It’s unfair to call on any individual or footballers as a group, because I already know players do a great amount of work in the community, and players are doing a lot to help this situation.

“Discussions are taking place between players and clubs, what kind of contribution they’ll make. It’s not easy for anyone, and to be called out is not fair for me.

“Mistakes are being made and have been made by loads of people and that’s how we learn as well.

“Now it’s about making better decisions, good decisions, I think we all want to help the NHS, the communities and I think it’s important every single club do what they think is right.”

Premier League action will not return until April 30 at the very earliest.

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Man Utd and Chelsea have not shown Coutinho interest – but another Premier League club has

Manchester United and Chelsea are yet to express an official interest in Philippe Coutinho – but Leicester City have. That is according to Spanish football expert Guillem Balague, who says Coutinho’s representatives are trying to engineer a return to the Premier League for their client.

Coutinho is heavily linked with a move away from Barcelona after spending this season on loan at Bayern Munich.

The Brazilian failed to settle at the Nou Camp following his £142million arrival from Liverpool in January 2018.

Both United and Chelsea have been linked with a move for Coutinho, as have former club Liverpool.

But Balague says Leicester are so far the only team to make their interest known to Barca and Coutinho.

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“The thing is, only Leicester have shown interest in Coutinho. Only Leicester,” he said on his YouTube channel.

“But I know that Coutinho’s representatives are looking into the Premier League with the possibility of getting him.”

Meanwhile, former Chelsea midfielder Craig Burley does not think his old club should pursue a deal for Coutinho.

“He’s clearly not a direct replacement because [Willian and Pedro] are pretty much wide guys, Coutinho being a playmaker,” Burley told ESPN FC.

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“You’ve got Mason Mount who was given that role quite a lot this season, a player that Frank Lampard trusts, a young man that was given his head.

“I do think that the likelihood is the two senior players probably will go and also Coutinho needs to find a home for the next three or four years but I’m not quite sure he fits into that mould.

“[Frank] Lampard likes his playmakers to be hardworking as well, closing people down and playing the pressing game.

“He’s not quite in that mould and he’s had a tough time.

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“The money’s going to be big as well and don’t forget there’s going to be a budget cut for Lampard like every other manager in the Premier League.

“[Roman] Abramovich has shown less of an appetite to spend huge money these days and their most important position out there is not a playmaker, it’s a centre-forward.

“And we know, when you’re after a top-notch centre-forward to get you over the line, that’s big bucks.

“It’s big bucks in terms of transfer fee and it’s big bucks in terms of wages.

“So even if he did want Philippe Coutinho to come in because he’s a very good player, I think finances might dictate it.”

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How Man Utd can sign Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish and a striker with just £150m budget

Manchester United are hopeful of signing Jadon Sancho this summer, with the England international blitzing the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund. And they’re also eyeing moves for Jack Grealish and a striker as they target a shot at Premier League title glory next season. It’s been claimed by The Metro that United will have around £150m to spend on fresh faces come the transfer window which – when you consider how wealthy the club is – is relatively small. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already admitted that January’s deal for Bruno Fernandes came out of this summer’s budget. So Express Sport now takes a look at how United can sign the likes of Sancho and Jack Grealish given both players are likely to cost a premium.

Jadon Sancho

Sancho is the player United want most, having watched him flourish in the Bundesliga ever since his departure from Manchester City.

And the England international won’t come cheap, with Borussia Dortmund determined to get £120million for his signature.

United, though, are willing to pay it.

They see Sancho as a generational talent, somebody capable of propelling the club to the major trophies they’ve missed since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

So don’t be surprised if the majority of Solskjaer’s budget is used to lure the 20-year-old to Old Trafford this summer.

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A striker

So Sancho is £120m down, meaning United would have just £30m left to spend on the striker they crave.

And that’s why it’s likely that Odion Ighalo will turn his temporary spell at the club into a permanent one.

The Nigeria international has been a big hit since arriving from Shanghai Shenhua in the summer, scoring four goals from eight games.

And he’ll only cost £15m.

Club insiders think that, if Ighalo was five years younger, he’d be worth in the region of £70m.

So it’s likely that United will snap him up.

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Jack Grealish

If United sign Sancho and Ighalo, that would leave them with just £15m in the bank.

Obviously that won’t be enough to sign Grealish, particularly given how the Aston Villa star is valued at closer to £60m.

But that’s where Paul Pogba comes into the equation.

United are expected to lose the France international and, if they can fetch a fee close to the £89m they paid for him, then Grealish could sign as his replacement.

That’s despite the 24-year-old recently causing outrage by breaching quarantine rules.

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What about one more?

It’s not a priority for United but they’d also like another central midfielder to compete with the likes of Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic.

And if they’re able to get Alexis Sanchez off the books, then one could feasibly arrive.

Sanchez earns big money at Old Trafford and the Red Devils want him off the wage bill.

They could save as much as £17m should he depart.

West Ham have been linked but whether they can afford the Chile international’s huge wages is unknown at this time. 

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