Neymar’s decision to post a photo of himself in thoughtful contemplation sparked a fresh wave of speculation that he is on the verge of sealing a world record €222million move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain.
The Instagram picture, even accompanied by a matching emoji, shows the 25-year-old Brazilian superstar stretched out on the pitch with his chin resting on his left hand.
It garnered more than 1.5 million ‘likes’ within 12 hours of it being posted in the United States where Barcelona are on a pre-season tour.
Three of the ‘likes’ came from PSG players – winger Angel Di Maria, goalkeeper Kevin Trapp and midfielder Marco Verratti.
French newspaper Le Parisien fuelled speculation Friday with an unsourced report that Neymar had told several Barcelona teammates of his intentions to join PSG, adding that the transfer is considered a done deal by some Barcelona players.
That echoes media company Esporte Interativo’s insistence that an agreement has been reached for Neymar to move to the French capital from Barcelona, where he has played since 2013.
On Tuesday, PSG skipper – and fellow Brazilian – Thiago Silva gave a digital thumbs up to a mocked-up photo montage published by Esporte Interativo showing Neymar in a PSG shirt along with compatriots and prospective teammates in France.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde described the ongoing saga as a “time of rumours”.
“We understand it’s how it is. He is with us right now, one of us,” said Valverde in East Rutherford where his team plays Juventus in a pre-season friendly.
That match will give Neymar a chance to display his coveted skills for the first time this summer.
“He’s a player we love and we want,” Valverde said. “Not only football wise, but also for the things he brings to the locker room.
“There’s no need to worry about something we don’t know if it’s going to happen or not. If it happens in the future, we’ll see.”
Suárez to Neymar after he arrived last for training "Fix up you idiot"— Leo Messi (@messi10stats) July 22, 2017
PSG skipper Thiago Silva told Le Parisien he had no idea if the Brazilian star was about to switch to the French capital.
“I don’t know. I hear a lot from journalists and a player like Neymar would be an interesting addition to the PSG project,” said Thiago, speaking in Florida – where the French club takes on Tottenham in a friendly.
“But, for the moment, it is especially important to prepare for the new season. After and if Neymar arrives it would be a good thing for the squad.”
Is Neymar going to sign? “Not yet,” smiled the captain.
In Spain, it was reported by Catalan media group RAC 1 that “certain players” at Barcelona have already tried to convince Neymar not to accept the PSG offer which would dwarf the €105million Manchester United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba.
Javier Mascherano said Neymar was “the future” of Barcelona as the Argentine pleaded with the striker to stay put.
“In the case of Ney, obviously he is young, and I hope he’s here with Barcelona for many more years,” Mascherano told American sports network ESPN.
“He is a really important player for the club. Because of his age, he’s the future of the club, and we hope we can keep on counting on him.”
However, it’s believed the Brazilian is being seduced by the immense wealth on offer to him from the Qatari owners of PSG and by the opportunity to have a team built around him.
The daily Sport newspaper also claimed that Luis Suarez has also attempted to persuade Neymar not to split up the MSN frontline at Barcelona made up of Lionel Messi, Suarez and the Brazilian star.
Catalunya Radio said that the deal is “95 percent complete”.
BREAKING: There is a "90% chance" Neymar will leave Barcelona this summer, according to Sky sources. pic.twitter.com/np862vwuO3— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) July 22, 2017
One of the keys would be the payment to Neymar’s father and agent of a “premium exceeding the 40 million” paid when the player controversially moved to Spain from Santos.
Other reports have claimed that Neymar senior has recently met with, or is about to meet, PSG sporting director Antero Henrique.
However, Barcelona vice-president Jordi Mestre insisted Tuesday that it is “200 percent” certain that Neymar will stay at the club.
In a public game of tit-for-tat pronouncements, PSG coach Unai Emery hailed the Brazilian.
“Neymar has advanced his game massively and today he is one of the five best in the world,” said Emery.
“Our president is working hard to attract top players and our fans would be content to count on a new top player to go along with the talent we already have.”
Provided by AFP Sport
Five things on Alvaro Morata, after the Spanish international striker signed for Premier League champions Chelsea from Champions League holders Real Madrid on Friday for a deal reported to be worth up to €80million.
Morata possesses a flamboyant side as he revealed when he proposed to his sweetheart Alice Campello.
He did so at a show by magician Antonio Diaz in Madrid. Diaz instructed Alice to face one way on the stage and then turn round adding: “This’ll be the best trick you’ve ever seen.”
As she wheeled round she saw Morata down on bended knee with a ring in his hand.
“I was more nervous that day than any other,” he told The Guardian in April this year.
“When you’re taken away from your pitch, your territory, the nerves are greater.”
The happy couple were married in Venice in June.
Morata will at last be managed by Antonio Conte after the latter coaxed him into joining Juventus in 2014 from Real Madrid and jumped ship to take over the national side days before the Spaniard signed his contract.
However, Morata is positively dewy-eyed about Conte.
“Conte is the manager who most ‘bet’ on me, without even ever having had me in his team,” he told The Guardian.
“I’m very conscious of that: he bet on me for Juventus but left before I arrived. He knows me better than I could imagine, I’m sure, and that’s important: it motivates you to work hard, train well.”
Morata has very fine locks admired by many. Sergio Ramos had a ritual whereby he shaved Morata’s head hoping it would bring them goals but last year he appeared shorn for a very different reason.
It turned out he was doing it in support of child cancer sufferers at the Hospital Nino Jesus de Madrid.
“There were some kids at a hospital that wanted to have the same hairstyle as me, but they couldn’t (due to cancer). Instead for them to have my hair style, I cut my hair and got their hairstyle,” he said.
Morata left Juventus for a return to Real Madrid last year but he will forever be indebted to legendary Juve and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
He found life hard in Turin until Buffon took him to one side and told him not to show how he was feeling in public, lest others use it to their advantage.
“All lads who aren’t mature yet live various situations to the extreme. They live with great joy or with great depression if things aren’t going well,” Buffon told Real Madrid TV last year.
“Alvaro had some negative thoughts in his last period at Juve, we talked about it a bit because I felt sorry for him, he was a lad I really liked and I wanted to help him and give him security. He deserved the help of a teammate, and I have huge affection for him.”
Morata has been often compared with former Real Madrid striking great Fernando Morientes — who formed a lethal partnership with Raul for many years.
Morientes himself is a great admirer of Morata.
“He’s a penalty area player who plays well high up the pitch. He’s a goalscorer and a complete player,” he told Omnisports last year. “And apart from that he’s a player you can use out wide. He’s very quick and he can go past players.”
Provided by AFP Sport
Another day in football, another wave of transfer rumours to keep up on.
Take a look at the most recent names and gossip being floated around in the media.
Will any of the following deals happen?
With Manchester United weighing their options in midfield, the Chile international is a target of Jose Mourinho, according to the Daily Star.
The 30-year-old is also being pursued by Italian club Inter Milan, but is reportedly open to relocating to Old Trafford.
United have been linked with all sorts of midfielders and Vidal is just the latest name to come up, though he’s been a target for a while now.
It’s obvious the Red Devils want to make a splashy move at the position, especially after facing resistance from Chelsea on a move for Nemanja Matic, who the champions are reluctant to sell for less than £50 million.
Vidal, however, has his own stable of options and Inter Milan should be considered the frontrunners for his services.
Arsenal maintain they won’t sell their star striker, but that isn’t stopping Paris Saint-Germain from vying for the Chile international as they’re set to make a £35m bid, according to Sky Sports News.
PSG to make £35m offer for Alexis Sanchez. Arsenal say he's not for sale. Representatives asking PSG for £500,000 a week contract— Kaveh Solhekol (@SkyKaveh) July 22, 2017
The £35m pale in comparison to the £70m offer reported by the Mirror, but could just be the start in negotiations.
Sanchez and his representatives were in Paris on Friday to meet with PSG sporting director Antero Henrique, according to reports.
Arsene Wenger has been adamant Sanchez won’t be sold this summer and it seems like it will take a lot more than £35 to change the Gunners’ mind.
If PSG keep raising their bid though, and are willing to match Sanchez’s exuberant salary demands, Arsenal may be willing to move him to Ligue 1 instead of potentially losing him to a title rival in the Premirer League down the road.
With PSG seemingly on the verge of prying away Neymar from Barcelona, the Catalan giants are ready to move on Paulo Dybala as a replacement, according to Mundo Deportivo.
The Argentina international won’t come cheap, with a fee set between €110m and €110m to lure him away from Juventus.
Losing Neymar would be a blow. There’s no other way around it for Barcelona, but the addition of Dybala would soften the blow and give Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez a worthy third attacker to play alongside.