Manchester United’s preseason plans are on hold because of the coronavirus, sources have told ESPN.
United have discussed the possibility of returning to Asia this summer, but talks have stalled while the club seek advice about the virus, which has infected more than 40,000 people globally, mostly in China.
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Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his squad have been sounded out to spend at least some time in China during their preseason tour. United look to promote club-themed entertainment centres in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang, which are due to open before the end of 2020.
Nothing has yet been finalised, but there have also been talks about playing friendlies in other parts of Asia and India in July before the start of the Premier League season on Aug. 8.
United played warm-up games in Singapore and Shanghai last summer and visited China for a two-game tour in 2016. They also held a supporter viewing party in Shenzhen for the 4-0 win over Norwich in January as part of their “I Love United” series.
Coronavirus has been declared a “serious and imminent threat” to public health by the U.K. government as the number of deaths in China approaches 1,000.
Striker Odion Ighalo, signed from Shanghai Shenhua on deadline day, has not travelled with Solskjaer and his squad for a warm weather training camp in Spain over fears he would not be able to clear U.K. immigration upon return, having been in China less than 14 days ago.
Ighalo, 30, has remained in Manchester and is yet to take part in a full training session with his new teammates.
Sources have told ESPN that United will “wait and see” before making any firm plans for their summer tour. They have spent four of their last six summers in the United States and a return to North America remains a possibility if the situation in Asia does not improve.