What really went down between NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann?

Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan. Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Judge. Porsha Williams and Phaedra Parks. Lisa Vanderpump and Kyle Richards. The Real Housewives universe has introduced viewers to a number of legendary on-again, off-again friendship pairings, but it is safe to say there has never been a duo quite like NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann-Biermann of The Real Housewives of Atlanta

Leakes’ and Zolciak-Biermann-Biermann’s RHOA journeys began all the way back in Season 1 when they were part of the show’s original cast, and not unlike their friendship, their roles on the hit Bravo series are ever-changing. Leakes stayed on the main roster through Season 7, appeared on Season 8 as a “friend of,” and was given back her peach just in time for Season 10. Zolciak-Biermann-Biermann abruptly exited the show in the middle of Season 5, returned as a supporting cast member in Season 9, and left again after Season 10. Whether they are front and center on RHOA or go an entire season without crossing a Bravo camera’s path, their relationship remains an integral part of the series, for better or for worse. A lot has happened between Leakes and Zolciak-Biermann-Biermann over the last dozen years, and here are a few of the highs and lows. 

They started their RHOA journey as friends

Before the rest of the world was introduced to them on the first season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Kim Zolciak-Biermann and NeNe Leakes met at a gym. As Zolciak-Biermann recalled on an episode of the RHOA Season 10 after show, she caught Leakes’ attention when she was “smoking cigarettes, running around the gym” with her trainer. Leakes joked around about Zolciak-Biermann’s cigarette-heavy workout regimen, pointed at her own knee when Zolciak-Biermann asked her to repeat her name, and the two eventually “had the whole gym in stitches.”

The duo began Season 1 as pals, but once word got out that Zolciak-Biermann’s relationship situation was a tad shady (her then-boyfriend “Big Poppa” was still married to another woman), her friendship with Leakes turned sour. When the reunion rolled around, their bond was so fractured that Leakes had no problem telling Zolciak-Biermann to “close your legs to married men,” a line that would live in Real Housewives infamy. This would be one of many fights between Leakes and Zolciak-Biermann (the “Tardy for the Party” drama! The tour bus fight! Roachgate!), some of which the Bravo cameras documented, and others that played out on social media.

NeNe Leakes made a dig at Kim Zolciak-Biermann in her book

In 2009, NeNe Leakes released Never Make the Same Mistake Twice, a memoir full of stories about her past and tidbits about her Real Housewives of Atlanta costars. And yes, one of those tidbits took aim at Kim Zolciak-Biermann. When Leakes appeared on an episode of Watch What Happens Live to promote the book, host Andy Cohen read a few sentences about Zolciak-Biermann out loud. The excerpt goes as follows: “Kim wouldn’t know how to make a dime if you slapped her with a bucket of change. Every dollar that chick has is somebody else’s husband’s money.”

Unsurprisingly, this struck a nerve with Zolciak-Biermann. Just as the credits started to roll, she called into the late-night talk show to confront Leakes. The episode ended as Leakes and Zolciak-Biermann’s heated exchange began, and Cohen let the audience know that the rest would be available on the Bravo website. For several intense minutes, Zolciak-Biermann and Leakes shouted at each other about finances and infidelity, and Cohen tried (and failed) to get the conversation back on the rails. 

There was a choking accusation

In August 2009, OK! reported Kim Zolciak-Biermann and NeNe Leakes got into a physical altercation earlier that year that allegedly led to Leakes choking Zolciak-Biermann. The “Tardy for the Party” singer told the outlet that she considered pressing charges against Leakes, but ultimately decided against pursuing legal action. In a separate report from OK!, Zolciak-Biermann also claimed that she “smacked [Leakes’] finger out of [her] face” after the alleged strangling happened. When TMZ asked Leakes about the accusation, she replied, “Would I actually strangle somebody and walk the streets of New York?”

Days after the choking allegations surfaced, The Real Housewives of Atlanta Season 2 cast appeared on On Air with Ryan Seacrest. The radio show host asked Zolciak-Biermann and Leakes about the reports, and the two wasted no time in arguing about whether or not it was self defense, who put hands on who first, and why Kim opted not to press charges. Leakes and Zolciak-Biermann yelled over and at one another, while the rest of the RHOA cast made faces that suggested they would rather be anywhere else at that moment. Seacrest eventually gave up and cut to commercial.  

Twitter has played host to many of NeNe and Kim's feuds

NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann are no strangers to trading barbs on Twitter, and one of their more memorable exchanges came about after Zolciak-Biermann and The Real Housewives of Atlanta parted ways for the first time in 2012. Leakes posted that her frenemy was fired from the RHOA cast; Zolciak-Biermann countered that she voluntarily left the reality show for her family and their spinoff series, Don’t Be Tardy. The tweets are juicier than a crate of peaches at a farmers market.

On Nov. 23, 2012, Leakes tweeted, “It’s so funny how this chick wants people 2 think she quit the show! The producers no longer wanted 2 work wit u! Good bye wit the lies.” In another tweet, she wrote, “None of the girls or producers wanted 2 work wit her! Saving face like all the other ex housewives! U were FIRED! Good bye.” Moreover, the spinoff explanation did not hold water as far as Leakes was concerned. She posted, “U had an existing deal that the (sic) honored! Girl bye! Keep it 100.”

Minutes after Leakes put those claims out into the Twittersphere, Zolciak-Biermann logged on to deny that she was kicked off of RHOA, as well as address Leakes’ claims regarding the spinoff deal. She tweeted, “I definitely was NOT fired from RHOA I can guarantee u that!!! My spinoff last year was a 1 time thing so this spinoff is brand new! Bye hater!!!!”

NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann also know how to make nice

Before NeNe Leakes and Gregg Leakes got remarried in 2013, NeNe sent a wedding invitation-shaped peace offering to Kim Zolciak-Biermann. And praise Bravo, it worked. Per USA Today, Leakes told In Touch Weekly in March 2013 that the invite was her way of “extending an olive branch” to Zolciak-Biermann, and Zolciak-Biermann said she was eager to get their “friendship back on track.” Their emotional reunion was captured on I Dream of NeNe, The Real Housewives of Atlanta spinoff that documented NeNe and Gregg’s nuptials.

This reconciliation stuck for a while. A year and some change later, Zolciak-Biermann shared a throwback photo she took with NeNe on Instagram, writing, “You know where this friendship started?!!! LA Fitness we were both working out!! @neneleakes had my laughing so hard I could barely lift a weight! #missyougirl #youballeryou #proudofyou #wecamealongway.” A month after that Instagram post went up, Leakes and Zolciak-Biermann went on Watch What Happens Live. Unlike the infamous episode of WWHL that aired back in 2009, they did not yell at each other over the phone. Instead, they sat next to each other in the WWHL Clubhouse and got on like old friends and laughed about all the times Leakes called Zolciak-Biermann a “trash box.” 

What happened to Kim and NeNe's spinoff show?

In March 2015, Bravo confirmed that NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann would be starring in an offshoot of The Real Housewives of Atlanta called NeNe and Kim: The Road to Riches. On the heels of the spinoff announcement, Leakes shared with E! News that she was looking forward to only working with Zolciak-Biermann instead of “Housewives where I was working with like, six monsters.” Zolciak-Biermann added, “It will be good not having anyone interfering with NeNe and I. We’re back to we started twelve years ago, no other noise.”

A few months later, however, the show was postponed indefinitely. A source told TMZ that the spinoff would not be happening due to “scheduling issues,” and E! News reported that a source said the plug had been pulled on The Road to Riches was because the two Bravolebrities were “both in the middle of other projects.” 

Fast-forward to March 2018: Leakes and Zolciak-Biermann were in the thick of the Roachgate feud, which we’ll get to in just a moment, and Leakes apparently figured it was as good a time as any to bring up the canceled spinoff story on Twitter. She claimed she chose to not do the show with Zolciak-Biermann and added, “Yeah they made up an excuse 2 help u b/c i didn’t want to work wit yo a** (our schedules didn’t line up) I’m more than happy you have your OWN show that you DONT deserve.”

Did Kim Zolciak-Biermann take things too far with Roachgate?

Oh, Roachgate. What a nasty battle you were. Kim Zolciak-Biermann and NeNe Leakes’ long and winding fight involving Zolciak-Biermann’s daughter Brielle Biermann (pictured above) and a recording she allegedly took in Leakes’ home was a low point for their friendship. In October 2017, a video Brielle allegedly took of a bug in NeNe’s bathroom started to make its way around the internet, and things escalated quickly. 

A source told E! News that the video was released because “apparently Nene was talking negatively about Kim on the cast trip and it got back to Kim.” When The Real Housewives of Atlanta cast was in the middle of filming Season 10, Kim found out that Leakes openly questioned her health history, and according to E! News‘ insider, Kim allegedly chose to retaliate with “this video with roaches in it.” Brielle posted the clip on Snapchat (via TMZ), and Kim sent it to the rest of The Real Housewives of Atlanta cast and called NeNe’s home a “roach nest.” As the RHOA stars who received that message pointed out in Season 10, Kim and Brielle’s actions and comments crossed a line. The feud got so heated, in some since-deleted Instagram posts and comments, NeNe called Kim and Brielle racists. 

There was more talk of bringing in legal counsel

The strangling accusation incident from 2009 would not be the last time Kim Zolciak-Biermann considered taking her battle with NeNe Leakes to a litigious place. After Leakes called Zolciak-Biermann and Brielle Biermann racists on social media, Kim reportedly lawyered up. In October 2017, Kim revealed to E!’s Daily Pop that she “hired a legal counsel at this point.” A source told Us Weekly that Kim allegedly brought on celebrity attorney Marty Singer “to represent her and handle NeNe in light of NeNe’s defamatory comments.” 

The following February, NeNe told E!’s Daily Pop that she had not heard from any attorneys regarding the Roachgate drama. She continued, “She’s gone out everywhere saying she has a lawsuit. Well, they need to contact me at some point, don’t you think?” Kim further claimed on Instagram that she could file a lawsuit against Leakes after the Season 10 reunion aired in April 2018, and Leakes tweeted, “Anytime you wanna go to court, I’m happy to see you there because your lies have runneth over.”

As of this writing, it’s unclear whether Kim has officially filed any sort of lawsuit. 

Roachgate made their friendship feel like a relic of the past

In the wake of Roachgate, NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann seemed more than ready to leave their bond in the past — for real, this time. Zolciak-Biermann told Us Weekly in November 2017 that Leakes’ remarks about her and her daughter were “the demise” of their friendship, and in a December 2017 interview with Entertainment Tonight, she said things went “too far” and would be “definitely hard to bounce back from.”

In a January 2018 interview with Extra, Leakes more definitively confirmed the burned bridge, saying, “I will never have anything to do with Kim.” She added, “I am not harboring any bad feelings, I just know this person and I will never be anything. I never want to say anything to her. I think if you cut her open, worms and slimy nastiness will come out of her. I think she is a slimy, nasty person for real.” Ouch. 

The RHOA Season 10 reunion was another low point for NeNe and Kim

Kim Zolciak-Biermann and NeNe Leakes’ feud was on full display at The Real Housewives of Atlanta Season 10 reunion, which filmed in March 2018. When the post-season sit-down aired in April 2018, they both took to social media to indicate that they were ready to move on from this conflict, but neither seemed interested in resuscitating their friendship. In her Instagram post, Zolciak-Biermann apologized to Leakes before going on to say she could file a lawsuit against Leakes “for the lies you have spewed, tweeting out fake texts, implying I am racist, attacking me physically, claiming my daughter tweeted negative about you and your home.”

Leakes’ post-reunion Instagram caption alluded to things the viewers at home do not get to see, and criticized Zolciak-Biermann’s behavior. She wrote, “Kim loves to push buttons, lie, talk s**t, insult, then become a victim when she’s called out on her s**t! Most people would love for me to be the bully but the only bully here is Kim & her plastic surgeon!”

Following the reunion, even Housewives executive producer Andy Cohen felt like it was a final straw for Zolciak-Biermann, telling ET, “I would be surprised if Kim came back, just because she left the reunion really unhappy. I don’t think this was a fun experience for her, and so I would be really surprised if she came back.”

Never say never when it comes to Kim Zolciak-Biermann and NeNe Leakes

Roachgate (and every feud between these frenemies, really) came to a screeching halt when NeNe Leakes’ husband, Gregg Leakes (pictured above), was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. In June 2018, NeNe revealed on Instagram that Gregg was battling cancer. Upon learning of his diagnosis, Kim Zolciak-Biermann cast the drama aside and sent a care package to the Leakes, a gesture that was received warmly. In June 2018, NeNe thanked Kim in a now-deleted Instagram post (via Bravo’s The Daily Dish) for the assortment of “all kinds of goodies” she sent to the Leakes family. “What can i say other than THANK YOU!,” NeNe wrote, adding that opening the gift is “like Christmas!”

A few months later, NeNe told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live that Kim “kept following up” with her about Gregg, and went so far as to say that she was “very open with being cool and going out for a drink. Girl, call me.”

In May 2019, NeNe announced on Instagram that Grew was “cancer free.”

The hatchet may finally be buried

In a twist no one would have predicted two years ago, Brielle Biermann hopped on Twitter in February 2020 to call NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak-Biermann “the most iconic duo & housewives.” Andy Cohen mentioned Biermann’s tweet to Leakes on the March 1, 2020 episode of Watch What Happens Live, and Leakes wholeheartedly agreed. She also shared that she and Zolciak-Biermann have chatted “here and there” and are “in a great place.” Leakes also noted that their relationship is much healthier when they are not on The Real Housewives of Atlanta together. “When we’re working together, we’re pulling wigs,” Leakes said. 

When Leakes appeared on the March 26, 2020 episode of Bravo‘s The Daily Dish podcast, she revealed that she wishes Zolciak-Biermann would return to the RHOA roster — yes, even though she knows they clash whenever they are on RHOA at the same time. That said, Leakes told The Daily Dish podcast that she doubts Zolciak-Biermann will ever come back, saying, “It was a lot for her the last time she was here.”

It is probably for the best if viewers do not hold their breath for a Zolciak-Biermann return. In March 2019, she told HollywoodLife that she would “never” rejoin RHOA because “it’s just so much negativity.” And when she was asked about it again at a BravoCon a few months later, her answer (via E! News) was about as subtle as one of her red Solo cups: “Hard pass.”

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MLB’s Arizona restart vision fraught with logistical nightmares

MLB officials on Monday sketched out for the first time to the Players Association a vision of re-starting first spring training in May and then beginning a season a few weeks later, with all of the training and games played exclusively in Arizona with no crowds.

The Associated Press and ESPN were first to outline details, but officials from the commissioner’s office, team executives and union personnel cautioned the plan is in its infancy, not embraced by either side as gospel yet and facing many hurdles of logistics, finances, staffing and permission of medical and governmental institutions.

MLB put out a statement Tuesday that said it is “actively considering numerous contingency plans that would allow play to commence once the public health situation has improved to the point that it is safe to do so.” The statement acknowledged the one-locale plan as a possibility, but that no detailed elements have been formalized nor has there been approval with officials from the government, medical community or the Players Association on the plan.

What is fueling the energy behind the one-locale plan is concerns by both management and players that playing games broadly across the country during this coronavirus pandemic will be impossible. Thus, what might be in play for MLB and its players is to play in one region such as Arizona and isolate the personnel needed for this as much as possible, potentially for months — or not to play at all.

As one person briefed on the plan said, “It is imperfect. It may be impossible. But we should study this in every way possible because it could be a plan like this or no baseball in 2020.”

The obstacles, though, are significant and many. Here are a few key ones:

— What signal and from which medical and science professionals will it take for the league to say it will try this and then for players, coaches and whatever staff is needed to return en masse? What happens if a bloc of players on, say, the Phillies or Angels refuse to come back until there is a vaccine that brings the chances of contacting this coronavirus to near zero?

— How will players be paid? If there are no gate receipts, luxury boxes, concessions, parking, etc., MLB will be losing a substantial amount of its revenue for this season. Some of it could be made up if TV networks — hungry for live sports again — provide additional payouts to show a greater number of games. Still, owners are facing substantial losses either way.

One club official said, “Say a team is losing $70 million this year and to play it knows it would lose another $10 million to $20 million without fans and all that comes with that, why would they approve that plan without the players taking a cut?” Conversely, players could argue that by returning sooner than later they are playing a risk/reward game to help the institution and should not have to sacrifice pay.

MLB and the union already reached agreement on a plan that gives $170 million to 40-man roster players through May. But the arrangement is for no more than that without games. As opposed to NBA and NHL players who had received the bulk of their 2020 salaries because of how far their seasons have gone already, MLB players would not be in that situation. As a person briefed on the plans said, “It could come down to how many players are willing to accept fill-in-the-blank, 35, 40, 50, 60 percent of their salaries or zero the rest of the way.”

— What percentage of risk is acceptable? It is not going to be zero. There is not going to be a vaccine in the next month. Perhaps there will be wider testing or better understanding of who is now immune and who is not. But this will still entail putting a lot of people in one place at one time — and not just players. There is a need for coaches, umpires, TV crews, grounds crews, clubhouse attendants, doctors, trainers, workout specialists. Everyone will have to be fed and housed and commuted from one place to another, forcing an ever-wider pool of contact.

Can all of these people stay isolated from others?

There are a few players, for example, with diabetes. Will players, coaches and umpires with underlying health issues be told not to participate because they are more vulnerable to coronavirus and bad outcomes?

A player representative said, “There are significant medical and practical challenges ahead in this whole thing. Everyone wants to play as many games as possible, but only at the point that health and safety are adequately protected.”

How many people will agree what “adequately” means?

— What happens if a player, coach, clubhouse attendant, etc. tests positive for the virus? Does that force a team-wide quarantine and, thus, a shutdown of the sport again? After all, if, say, the Yankees need to quarantine, the other 29 teams can’t keep playing without them.

That is why MLB is asking its medical/scientific advisors can the person who tests positive be quarantined and the rest of the team continue playing under an even more watchful medical evaluation? Teams, after all, are used to having to put players on the Injured List all the time. But when a player sprains his ankle, for example, it is not infectious and it is not lethal to him or others. If someone associated with this venture of putting on games got very sick or — worse — died, what would that make the decision to return look like? Again, the chances to get to zero risk is not here. How much risk and potential damage to reputation is the league willing to take?

The answer is at least some. MLB recognizes that if it can get out first among sports leagues there is potential residual benefits both monetarily and in image in helping the country potentially feel more normal again.

— Where will teams play? There are 10 spring training facilities in Arizona housing 15 teams (five clubs share a facility), plus the Diamondbacks’ Chase Field plus some universities/colleges/junior colleges that have potentially suitable stadiums such as the University of Arizona, Arizona State and Grand Canyon University.

But think of the number of people it will take to get 15-ish fields prepped daily for baseball. If this goes for months, think of the daytime heat in Arizona becoming a factor. And think about how much governmental and public pushback there could be to increase risk in the name of playing baseball. No plan is going to get near 100 percent approval.

— How long will players and staff tolerate being separated from their families? Just how isolated is isolated and for how long? Just think of this example: Gerrit Cole and his wife, Amy, are expecting their first child in June. Can Cole return to his wife for that birth? If he does, will he have to quarantine for two weeks when he comes back? Multiply that by many players making similar situations for births, funerals and just general need to have proximity to loved ones.

— What is the imagery going to be? Yes, a lot of it is positive, just having games on again. But remember this is a sport in which — among other things — there is a lot of licking of fingers, spitting and reaching for some sweat to get a better grip. The ball is shared. Someone has to pick up and clean the uniforms. All of this would be true if MLB were playing widely in familiar sites. But it will become even more pertinent whenever they try to play next.

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Demi Moore And Bruce Willis Quarantine Together In Matching Pajamas

Exes Demi Moore and Bruce Willis are a matched pair again ― in their choice of pajamas.

In a photo shared on Instagram Monday, the famous former spouses were wearing adorable striped PJs in an apparent coronavirus quarantine with daughter Scout and her boyfriend, director Dillon Buss.

“Chaotic neutral,” another daughter, Tallulah, wrote in the caption.

Moore and Willis, who divorced in 2000 but remain friendly, reunited for self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic, a source told People.

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A post shared by tallulah (@buuski) on

Willis’ current wife, Emma Heming Willis, with whom he shares two young daughters, commented her approval. “Not many can pull that color off! 😂 Lookin good squad 💚💚💚💚.”

Another picture, which Tallulah posted to Instagram story, revealed a more extended striped sequestering.


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Tyra Banks Rocks Curls & Camouflage While Stepping Out For Organic Groceries – Pic

Tyra Banks stepped out for some organic groceries during quarantine when she opted to wear a green scheme featuring skinny pants & a camo jacket!

Tyra Banks, 46, headed to the store on April 6 to get organic groceries during quarantine when she opted to dress up in a fabulous outfit. While most people are self-isolating in sweatpants and leggings, Tyra chose to spice things up when she rocked a pair of skintight bright green joggers with a white T-shirt and a matching baggy camouflage green jacket on top. She accessorized her green ensemble with a black beanie, black sneakers, a backpack, and oversized glasses.

The best part of Tyra’s look, though, was without a doubt her gorgeous tight honey-colored curls which she had down underneath her hat. Tyra’s natural hair is so gorgeous and effortless, it looked like she got her hair done.

Tyra is just one of the many celebrities who has been stepping out to get groceries in chic casual outfits. Kaia Gerber, 18, went for a walk in LA on March 17 when she rocked a pair of black leggings with Adidas Ultraboost Sneakers and an oversized black vintage varsity jacket. The bomber had a ton of patches sewn on with a giant red “D” on the side. She accessorized her look with a white beanie and high white socks.

Aside from Tyra’s cute outfit, we love that she let her natural curls down, which a ton of stars have been doing, including Gabrielle Union, 47. Gabrielle opted to let her real hair down on April 2 when she showed off her natural, short curly hair in an Instagram video, which sees her pulling at her super tight curls. We’re so used to seeing Gabrielle with extra long hair – whether it’s down in waves or in extra long braids, so, to see her with short hair was pleasantly surprising.

We absolutely loved Tyra’s outfit and you can click through the gallery above to see all of the celebs going grocery shopping during quarantine!

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Melissa Etheridge Says Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston Will 'Always' Be Friends

Believing the hype? Melissa Etheridge opened up about the “hysteria” that followed the reunion between Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston earlier this year.

The singer-songwriter, 58, couldn’t help but gush over the former couple during the Monday, April 6, episode of Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. As he continues on his path to recovery from coronavirus, host Andy Cohen challenged Etheridge to a round of “Iso-Lay It On Me” and put the Grammy nominee on the spot about the actors’ relationship.

“Oh god! I was hoping I could do your show without mentioning her whose name will not be mentioned,” Etheridge teased. “You know what? I loved Brad and Jen together, they were beautiful. I believe they will always remain friends because they’re two very special people that can get through anything. I just hope that their friendship lasts … Those were the glory days.”

The “I Want to Be in Love” songstress performed when Pitt, 56, and Aniston, 51, tied the knot in 2000 and has remained supportive of her close friends over the years. Though the celeb couple split in 2005, the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood star and the Friends alum have been able to stay friendly, hanging out at Aniston’s star-studded birthday bash and her holiday party in 2019.

Earlier this year, the exes sent fans into a frenzy when they were spotted embracing and celebrating together at the 2020 Screen Actors Guild Awards in January, quickly sparking speculation that their romance could be making a comeback. Pitt watched proudly from backstage as Aniston accepted her award and appeared to become emotional as her speech ended.

Though longtime lovers of the former Hollywood couple were hoping for a rekindled connection between the actors, a source told Us Weekly in January that “Jennifer is not interested in Brad in a romantic sense or wanting to get back together with him.” The Morning Show star “appreciates having his support” and “doesn’t want to hold onto any bad feelings,” but is staying strictly in the friend zone with her ex-husband.

One month after their awards season reunion nearly broke the internet, a separate insider revealed that the pair thought it was “hysterical that fans are so obsessed with them getting back together.” At the time, the source explained that Aniston wasn’t making her romantic life a top priority.

“Jen is having the time of her life right now,” the source added. “She’s satisfied with her work and personal life.”

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Katya Jones: ‘You couldn’t do it’ Strictly pro in swipe at Neil Jones as she talks error

Katya Jones, 30, cheekily teased her ex Neil Jones, 37, after he weighed in on her Instagram live chat with Ed Balls, 53, yesterday. The Russian dancer and the retired Labour politician reunited over a video call after entertaining fans with their memorable performances on Strictly Come Dancing in 2016.

Ed and Katya were recalling a mishap they encountered while showcasing an “around the world” lift, when Neil suggested an error they made “wasn’t Ed’s fault”.

The duo got onto the subject when Ed asked the Strictly favourite which of her celebrity dance partners was “the best at doing lifts”.

She mischievously replied: “We did some amazing lifts, Ed Balls, you were the best at doing lifts.

“And the reason is, you were the best when you were stood still!”

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Ed collapsed into giggles, as he exclaimed in shock: “Katya!”

Fortunately, Katya insisted she was joking and added: “You would chuck me and I would just be like, ‘Yes, this is what we’re doing!’”

Ed then reminded his pal of the “around the world” lift they performed in their iconic Gangnam Style themed Salsa.

However, the former member of parliament admitted the pair faced some issues with the lift on the Strictly Live tour.

He recalled: “There was one point on the tour, didn’t your dress get stuck in your…”

“My heel got stuck in my skirt,” Katya interjected.

Ed continued: “When I lifted you, your upper body went and your feet didn’t.

“And I think you may have grown by about three inches!”

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Katya then spotted a message from Neil, who she split with last year, and couldn’t resist taking a light-hearted swipe at his inability to do the lift himself.

She quipped: “Neil just said, ‘It wasn’t Ed’s fault’. 

“Well, Neil, you couldn’t do around the world with me, just pointing it out!”

Ed then stepped in to defend Neil, as he explained he was referring to a different mistake the duo made on the show.

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He admitted: “I think, if I’m honest with you Katya, Neil is not referring to the tour around the world mishap.”

Neil and Katya confirmed their decision to separate in a social media statement in August 2019 after six years of marriage.

The former couple informed fans that they will “always love each other, just in a different way as friends.”

They added that they will “keep working and dancing together as well as exploring individual projects”.

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Coronavirus treatment which uses blood from recovered patients

Coronavirus treatment approved in the UK and US which uses blood plasma from recovered patients helps the infected get better within three days, study claims

  • Ten COVID-19 patients in China received convalescent plasma therapy
  • Their symptoms subsided within three days after a single-dose of treatment
  • None of the patients died, compared with three in a control group 
  • But experts cautioned the study is very small and not rigorous enough 
  • Patients in the UK and US receive the therapy in trials, following China and Italy

A coronavirus treatment already approved in the UK and US which uses blood from recovered patients can help patients get better, a study has found. 

Ten COVID-19 patients in China who were severely ill in hospital saw their symptoms disappear or rapidly improve within three days after the therapy.

They were given a dose of blood donated from COVID-19 survivors, which had the antibodies necessary for their immune system to clear the virus.

Known as convalescent plasma therapy, it has recently been given the green light by medical regulators in the UK and US to trial on critically ill patients, following the lead of hospitals in China.

As well as proving to be life-saving, the therapy appears to be safe so far, with no serious side effects observed in the small study group.

It comes after a New York City mother who survived coronavirus last week became one of the first Americans to donate her blood plasma in hope of helping others. Tiffany Pinckney, 39,  said she felt like ‘a beacon of hope’ for those suffering.

But although experts say convalescent plasma is ‘an important area to pursue’, there is no conclusive evidence it is effective yet.

There is no cure for the killer coronavirus, which has infected more than 1.3million people worldwide and killed almost 80,000. Thousands of patients worldwide are involved in trials of promising medicines.

A key advantage to the blood based therapy is that it’s available immediately and relies only drawing blood from a former patient.

It is also significantly cheaper than developing a new drug, which costs millions to take through trials and regulation before mass production. 

A coronavirus treatment approved in the UK and US which uses blood from recovered patients helps patients get better, a study shows. Tiffany Pinckney, 39, (pictured) a recovered New-Yorker who was one of the first to donate her blood in the city, said she felt like ‘a beacon of hope’ for those suffering 

The treatment, known as convalescent plasma (CP) therapy, involves using antibody-rich blood plasma of those who have recovered from coronavirus, which can fight infection. Pictured, Diana Berrent was the first recovered patient to have her blood screened for antibodies at Columbia University, Irving, New York

The treatment – used for around a century for other infections – works by bolstering a patient’s own immune system to fight the virus. 

Infusing patients with blood plasma has also been used to tackle SARS and MERS, two similar coronaviruses, as well as the deadly infection Ebola. 

Plasma makes up around 55 per cent of all blood volume and provides the liquid for red and white blood cells to be carried around the body in.

By injecting this into patients it can provide their bodies with a vital dose of crucial substances called antibodies.

Antibodies can only be created by people who have already been infected and learnt how to fight off an infection, such as SARS-CoV-2. 

It may be the best hope for COVID-19 patients while scientists work to develop new, specific treatments for the disease.

It is significantly cheaper than developing a new drug, which costs millions of dollars to take through trials and regulation before mass production.

The study in Wuhan – where the coronavirus pandemic began in December – was led by Kai Duan of China’s National Biotec Group Co. Ltd.

Because it was a pilot study, which assess the feasibility of a treatment, the findings are only preliminary. 

However, the results were published in a respected journal called the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.

Ten patients at three different hospitals were enrolled to get convalescent plasma therapy. They also received other promising drugs.

The researchers said all clinical symptoms, which included the tell-tale signs of a fever and cough, subsided within three days.

The patients’ liver and lung function as well as blood oxygen levels were also found to have improved, signs they had fought off the virus. 

The numbers of disease-fighting white blood cells, lymphocytes, also increased, and antibody levels remained high after CP transfusion, the researchers said. 

Two of three patients who were hooked up to a ventilator to assist with breathing were taken off, and given oxygen delivered into the nose.

The patients’ blood oxygen levels improved (top right). The numbers of disease-fighting white blood cells, lymphocytes, also increased (top centre), and enzymes produced by the liver – which indicate an infection – reduced (bottom left)

The researchers published chest scans of two patients. Pictured, the lungs of a 49-year-old woman: On day seven, she showed ground-glass opacity in the lungs (A, top left), which indicated fluid or debris. On day 13 (B, top right) the fluid had been absorbed and her lungs had improved significantly 

A patient recovered from COVID-19 coronavirus donates their plasma used for transfusions to treat COVID-19 patients at the Policlinico San Matteo hospital in Pavia, Italy, on April 6

Plasma (pictured in the bag) is a clear fluid which makes up around 55 per cent of all blood volume and provides the liquid for red and white blood cells to be carried around the body in 

Blood plasma therapy – known formally as convalescent plasma – has been around for centuries. Doctors in China, where the COVID-19 outbreak began in December 2019, were the first to attempt treating patients this way. Pictured, Dr Zhou Min shows his plasma

The study was not designed to compare the outcomes for patients who received the antibody therapy with those who did not.

That would have shown if it was the convalescent plasma that worked or the patients just recovered on their own.

But the authors did create a control group from a random selection of ten COVID-19 patients treated in the same hospitals with a similar outlook.

They were matched to the pilot study participants by their age, gender and illness severity.

Over several weeks, there were shown to be obvious differences in how the control group patients deteriorated.

Three died, six saw their conditions stabilize, and one got better during the course of the study.

Of those who received convalescent plasma, none of the 10 patients died, three were discharged from the hospital, and the remaining seven were rated ‘much improved’ and ready for discharge by the end of the study. 

The authors wrote: ‘This pilot study on [convalescent plasma] therapy shows a potential therapeutic effect and low risk in the treatment of severe COVID-19 patients.

‘One dose of [convalescent plasma] with a high concentration of neutralizing antibodies can rapidly reduce the viral load and tends to improve clinical outcomes.’

A top World Health Organization (WHO) expert said the blood-based therapy ‘is a very important area to pursue’, according to Reuters. Pictured, Dr Kong Yuefeng, a recovered COVID-19 patient, donates plasma at a clinic in Wuhan, Hubei province, China on February 18

 Known as convalescent plasma therapy, it has recently been given the green light by medical regulators in the UK and US to trial on critically ill patients, following the lead of hospitals China. Pictured, a blood donor at a clinic in Hubei, China

WHAT IS CONVALESCENT PLASMA AND WHERE HAS IT BEEN USED?

Convalescent plasma has been used to treat infections for at least a century, dating back to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.  

It was also trialed during the 2009-2010 H1N1 influenza virus pandemic, 2003 SARS epidemic, and the 2012 MERS epidemic. 

Convalescent plasma was used as a last resort to improve the survival rate of patients with SARS whose condition continued to deteriorate.

It has been proven ‘effective and life-saving’ against other infections, such as rabies and diphtheria, said Dr Mike Ryan, of the World Health Organization.

‘It is a very important area to pursue,’ Dr Ryan said.

Although promising, convalescent plasma has not been shown to be effective in every disease studied, the FDA say.

Is it already being used for COVID-19 patients?

Before it can be routinely given to patients with COVID-19, it is important to determine whether it is safe and effective through clinical trials.

The FDA said it was ‘facilitating access’ for the treatment to be used on patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections’.

It came after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that plasma would be tested there to treat the sickest of the state’s coronavirus patients.  

COVID-19 patients in Beijing, Wuhan and Shanghai are being treated with this method, authorities report. 

Lu Hongzhou, professor and co-director of the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre, said in February the hospital had set up a special clinic to administer plasma therapy and was selecting patients who were willing to donate. 

‘We are positive that this method can be very effective in our patients,’ he said.

Meanwhile, the head of a Wuhan hospital said plasma infusions from recovered patients had shown some encouraging preliminary results.

The MHRA has approved the use of the therapy in the UK, but it has not been revealed which hospitals have already tried it. 

How does it work? 

Blood banks take plasma donations much like they take donations of whole blood; regular plasma is used in hospitals and emergency rooms every day.

If someone’s donating only plasma, their blood is drawn through a tube, the plasma is separated and the rest infused back into the donor’s body.

Then that plasma is tested and purified to be sure it doesn’t harbor any blood-borne viruses and is safe to use.

For COVID-19 research, people who have recovered from the coronavirus would be donating.  

Scientists would measure how many antibodies are in a unit of donated plasma – tests just now being developed that aren’t available to the general public – as they figure out what’s a good dose, and how often a survivor could donate.

There is also the possibility that asymptomatic patients – those who never showed symptoms or became unwell – would be able to donate. But these ‘silent carriers’ would need to be found via testing first.

Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda is working on a drug that contains recovered patients antibodies in a pill form, Stat News reported. 

Could it work as a vaccine? 

While scientists race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, blood plasma therapy could provide temporary  protection for the most vulnerable in a similar fashion. 

A vaccine trains people’s immune systems to make their own antibodies against a target germ. The plasma infusion approach would give people a temporary shot of someone else’s antibodies that are short-lived and require repeated doses.

If US regulator the FDA agrees, a second study would give antibody-rich plasma infusions to certain people at high risk from repeated exposures to COVID-19, such as hospital workers or first responders, said Dr Liise-anne Pirofski of New York’s Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

That also might include nursing homes when a resident becomes ill, in hopes of giving the other people in the home some protection, she said.

Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, President of the British Pharmacological Society, said the findings should be taken with caution.

‘This paper reports the outcomes in 10 patients with severe COVID-19 who were treated with convalescent plasma. The authors did compare the 10 cases with a concurrent control group and showed some encouraging results.

‘However, this was not a randomised trial and all patients also received other treatments including antivirals such as remdesivir which are currently in trials for COVID-19.

‘It is also important to remember that there are potential safety concerns with convalescent plasma including transmission of other agents (including transmissible spongiform encephalopathy) and antibody enhancement of disease.’

There were no side effects recorded in this small study, other than an unexpected red bruise on a patient’s face.

Sir Munir said: ‘Even if shown to work, scalability to treat large numbers of patients may become an issue. As the authors indicate, there is a need for robustly designed randomised controlled trials to show efficacy of convalescent plasma.’

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved the blood-based therapy in early March, meaning NHS patients can get the treatment. 

The Food and Drug Administration – the US version of the MHRA – approved the use of the blood-based therapy on March 23 as an experimental treatment in clinical trials, and for critical patients without other options. 

Ms Pinckney, a mother in New York City who survived coronavirus, became one of the first Americans to donate her blood plasma. 

‘It is definitely overwhelming to know that in my blood, there may be answers,’ Ms Pinckney told the Associated Press. 

She got sick the first week of March. First came the fever and chills. She couldn’t catch her breath, and deep breathing caused chest pains. The single mother worried about her sons, ages nine and 16.

‘I remember being on my bathroom floor crying and praying,’ the 39-year-old said.

So when Mount Sinai, the hospital which diagnosed her, called to check on her recovery and ask if she’d consider donating, she didn’t hesitate.

‘It’s humbling. And for me, it´s also a beacon of hope for someone else,’ she said. 

Jason Garcia, a 36-year-old aerospace engineer from California, donated his blood on April 1 after fighting COVID-19 in March.

After hearing his blood would be used to treat three patients with the coronavirus, he told CNN: ‘This can be turned into a life-saving opportunity for someone who can’t fight off this disease.’ 

Doctors in China, where the COVID-19 outbreak began in December 2019, were the first to attempt treating patients this way.

Recovered patients in China, including in Wuhan, Shanghai and Beijing, have been donating their blood in hospitals since February. 

Special units for blood donation have been set up in hospitals in China with leading doctors claiming to have had encouraging early results with COVID-19 patients. 

The doctors of the latest study in China described how each patient recovered, even if they had been admitted to hospital with a poor prognosis.

A 46-year-old man with high blood pressure showed up at a hospital with fever, cough, shortness of breath and chest pain.

He was put onto a mechanical ventilator to push oxygen into his lungs, and still his blood-oxygen level was a dismal 86 per cent. Normal readings are between 95 and 100 per cent.

On the eleventh day of his symptoms, the patient was given convalescent plasma. The next day, his blood tested negative for infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

His blood-oxygen level rose to 90 per cent, and he was able to be weaned off the ventilator he had been relying on to survive for three days.

Patient’s liver function was also measured, because COVID-19 can cause organs to malfunction and even fail.

The man’s immune system and liver function, both of which were showing signs of inflammation along with his lungs, stabilised four days after the antibody infusion.

Another patient, a 49-year-old woman with no underlying health conditions, received convalescent plasma on day ten of her symptoms.

She had been admitted to hospital quite early on because she had shortness of breathe. By day seven, scans of her chest showed fluid inside her lungs – called ground glass opacity.

By day 12, she had cleared the virus from her system and her chest X-ray showed remarkable improvement in her lungs.

The findings are promising and will fuel more research into convalescent plasma, which was recently labelled a ‘very important area to pursue’ by Dr Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organisation’s health emergencies program. 

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Thomas Rhett Shares Star-Studded New Song ‘Be A Light’

Thomas Rhett celebrated his 30th birthday last Monday by releasing a new song, “Be A Light.”

Rhett co-wrote “Be A Light” with Josh Miller, Josh Thompson and Matt Dragstrem.

“I wrote this song last year,” he explained to his followers on Instagram Live. “This song was really just about being a light in a dark place; being an encouragement to people … We weren’t supposed to release this now, but I really felt like the song needed to come out today. I hope it puts a smile on your face in this crazy, crazy time.”

The song features Reba McEntire, Lady Antebellum‘s Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin and Keith Urban.

“In a world full of hate/ Be a light/ When you do somebody wrong/ Make it right/ Don’t hide in the dark, you were born to shine/ In a world full of hate/ Be a light,” they sing in the poignant chorus.

Rhett gave an acoustic performance of the song for fans, but before that he said the proceeds from the song will go the the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund, which will go toward members of the industry who are currently suffering from the coronavirus and those out of work due to the pandemic.

“Cool way to celebrate my birthday, putting a song out for you guys… the more you stream it, the more you download it, just know your money is going to a great cause,” Rhett said.

He also performed some portions from “Die a Happy Man,” “Beer with Jesus,” “Sixteen,” “Unforgettable,” “Watcha Got in That Cap” and “Front Porch Junkies” during his live show.

(Photo: Green Room PR)

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Man redoes years of dates for girlfriend when nosebleed made her forget her life

Sophie Clayton was getting ready for a shift at the London Ambulance control room when she suffered a nosebleed.

Initially, she didn’t think it was anything to worry about but about 15 minutes later, blood started pouring from her left eye.

Suddenly, Sophie, 26, forgot almost everything about her life – including her boyfriend of two-and-a-half years, Jonathan Wilson, 26.

The nosebleed had triggered a functional neurological disorder, where her brain disconencted from her nervous system.

Six months on, Sophie is slowly recovering and rebuilding her life. To help, Jonathan has been taking her back to all the places that are special to them and she is falling in love with him all over again, just like the movie starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, 50 First Dates.

Jonathan made her photo albums of the key moments in their relationship, and took her back to the location of special dates.

He took her to the spot in Kew Gardens where he first asked if she’d be his girlfriend and filled in the huge gaps in her memory with cherished moments he remembered.

Emergency resource dispatcher Sophie, from Surrey, said: ‘My friends have said that our relationship is just like 50 First Dates and I can definitely see the resemblance!

‘When everything happened, I felt shocked, confused and sad knowing I had forgotten everything and especially not knowing why.

‘My condition is quite rare so they are still doing research into it and it’s really frustrating that they can’t tell me why this happened or what caused it.

‘I feel so upset that I’ve lost 26 years of memories that made me the person I am but I’m looking forward to recreating new ones with everyone I love.

‘I’m falling back in love with Jonathan all over again which is so lovely.

‘Although I am sad that I have forgotten all these things that I’ve done before, it is quite special getting to see things for the first time with Jonathan.

‘Just the other day, he took me to see the beach for the ‘first’ time – it was amazing.

‘Doctors can’t say if my memory will ever come back, so for now it’s like my life started three months ago, but I’m just focusing on making new memories rather than pining for the old ones.’

Before 6 November 2019, Sophie was a healthy 26-year-old who enjoyed running.

But just before her nightshift her nose started to bleed.

Sophie said: ‘I don’t normally have nosebleeds, but I didn’t think it was really anything to worry about.

‘My nose had been bleeding for about 15 to 20 minutes and I was waiting in the kitchen with my mum for it to stop when blood suddenly started pouring out of my left eye.

‘Mum sat me down on the kitchen floor and my left side went completely weak.

‘She phoned for an ambulance as she thought I’d had a stroke and I asked her for my phone so I could ring work and let them know I wouldn’t be coming in.’

But they realised it was very serious when her mum gave her her phone and she had no idea of what her pin number was.

Sophie added: ‘I was still trying to remember when the ambulance arrived a few minutes later and they asked me a few things like what the date was and I couldn’t tell them.

‘I couldn’t even remember what my name was when they asked me – it was terrifying.’

Sophie was rushed to St George’s Hospital in London where she was taken for a CT scan and blood tests after the paramedics suspected she’d had a stroke.

But instead scans and tests showed she had functional neurological disorder (FND).

FND is most commonly caused by stress or depression, but as Sophie had not been suffering with either, it is likely that she was born with the disorder.

The separation between her brain and nervous system could have happened at any time.

In Sophie’s case, there had been a small amount of pressure on her brain and when the nosebleed released that pressure, it triggered her condition.

The disruption in signals between her nervous system and her brain resulted in left side weakness and devastatingly resulted in Sophie losing all of her long term memory.

Sophie said: ‘It was like my brain had been wiped clean, I couldn’t remember anything, I had no idea who anybody was, and I didn’t even know my name or how old I was.

‘A man came into the hospital to see me and I said “I don’t know who he is” – it turned out to be my dad.

‘As mum had been with me all the time, I knew that I must know her but I didn’t recognise that she was my mum.

‘Jonathan was the last person I had texted, so I think I knew I had a boyfriend but not who he was exactly – I just kept asking my mum if she’d told “that man” what had happened.

‘When he arrived at the ward and my mum introduced us, I instantly started crying because I was so desperate to remember him but I couldn’t.

‘Jonathan told me that he loved me and I said that I loved him too, and then he held my hand whilst my dad explained everything the doctors had said so far.’

Sophie was in hospital for four days before she returned to her parents’ house, using a wheelchair.

She is learning to walk again through vigorous occupational therapy and physiotherapy four times a week at a local hospital.

She added: ‘I’m learning to walk again and I’d love to go back to work one day and return to running, but even just to walk on the beach rather than sit in my wheelchair would be incredible.

‘My speech has been affected and I have had to learn small things again like how to write, hold my knife and fork and even how to brush my hair.

‘Sometimes I feel like I don’t actually have the condition but then I soon come to the realisation that it’s happened – I have to come to terms with it and hopefully try and help others who are in the same position.’

Jonathan said: ‘It was absolutely devastating learning what happened to Sophie.

‘The feeling of helplessness was definitely present and being unable to help her or do anything was horrendous.

‘I was really nervous and anxious driving up to the hospital to see her for the first time.

‘The worst moment was when Julie [Sophie’s mum] introduced me to Sophie saying I was her boyfriend.

‘That’s when realisation really started to hit home that she had completely lost her memory.

‘This has been a challenging time for us both.

‘We’ve shared some amazing memories together and Sophie losing her memory means she has completely forgotten everything we’ve done, so it has been lovely reminiscing on our relationship and all the great times we’ve shared together.

‘I am just grateful to have Sophie, and grateful that she still has her personality and smile!’

Do you have a story to share? Let us know at [email protected].

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Barcelona confident Messi, 32, will sign new deal amid Inter transfer claim as Italians haggle over Martinez – The Sun

BARCELONA are confident Lionel Messi will sign a new contract despite interest from Inter Milan, according to reports.

The Argentine hero, 32, is out of contract in little over a year's time and has been at loggerheads with the Nou Camp board on various occasions this season.

Most recently, the club's handling of the coronavirus crisis and the reduction of players' wages did not go down well with the captain who was thought to be losing patience.

In February, he hit out at ex-defender and director of football Eric Abidal over comments regarding some players' commitment and effort around the time of Ernesto Valverde's sacking.

Messi also said he found it "strange" that the club were forced to deny claims they paid a PR firm to attack star players including the Argentine icon.

The tensions between the six-time Ballon d'Or winner and Barcelona has led to suggestions he could leave the club he has been with since 2001.

But after former Inter president Massimo Moratti suggested the San Siro club could launch an audacious move to sign Messi, reports in Spain insist Barcelona are "completely unfazed" by the comments.

Instead, Marca report that the Catalan giants reckon their captain will sign a contract extension.

Messi has scored 627 goals in 718 games and won ten LaLiga titles as well as four Champions Leagues.

But in order to keep on winning titles – especially the Champions League – he wants to see more quality players brought in, such as international team-mate Lautaro Martinez.

The Inter hitman, 22, has banged in 16 goals for Antonio Conte's side this term and is thought to be Barca's No1 transfer target when the window reopens.

However, the comments from Moratti may be used to try and fend Barcelona away from making a move.

Moratti – who was president as Inter triggered Messi’s £132million release clause when he was just 18 years old in 2006 – believes his old side can somehow exploit that interest in Martinez to convince Messi to make the switch.

Moratti told Radio Rai: “I don’t believe Messi is a forbidden dream at all. Maybe it never was even before all this misfortune.

“He is in the final stretch of his contract and, without doubt, it would take a tremendous effort to bring him here.

“I don’t know if the current situation changes anything for better or for worse. But I think we will see some strange things at the end of the year.

“Martinez is a good boy who cares about his career. But we will see if he’s part of a deal to bring in more important players like Messi.”

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