Badou Ndiaye is flying the flag for the Stoke City squad this weekend as football continues in Turkey – behind closed doors.
Ndiaye is one of eight senior Stoke players currently out on loan but, just as with the Potters’ trip to Reading, seven have been postponed due to the coronavirus.
Trabzonspor, however, are still going ahead with their match tomorrow (1pm) – and it’s a big one, at home against title rivals Istanbul Basaksehir.
Ndiaye’s loan club haven’t won the Turkish title since 1984 but currently sit top, level on points with Basaksehir but with a better goal difference by six.
The £14m midfielder, on loan from Stoke with an option to make the deal permanent, has won six and drawn two of his eight matches since joining the club in January.
His old club Galatasaray – who he helped win the league while on loan from Stoke last season, are third but just three points behind, level on points with Sivasspor.
It was widely reported that teammate Joao Pereira disapproved of the decision to continue the league when he posted on social media: “Health first please.”
But he added: “Usually I don’t justify my posts because I think with my own head and not with other people’s head. I will open a little exception because I think I was misunderstood.
“For me EVERYBODY’S health comes first, and prevention is the best way for us to stay safe.
“And the league decision of playing without spectators was a very good prevention act.”
But John Obi Mikel, who plays alongside Ndiaye in midfield, was more forthright.
He said: “There are more important things in life than football. I do not feel comfortable and do not want to play football under these conditions.
“At this critical time, everyone should be at home with their families and loved ones. The season should be postponed when the world faces such a turbulent period.”