Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel has offered no guarantees that star forwards Kylian Mbappe and Neymar will stay at the club.
Mbappe grabbed headlines with his acceptance speech after being named the French professional footballers’ union’s Ligue 1 player of the season, suggesting he may need to consider “a new project”.
Those comments from the 20-year-old World Cup winner fuelled speculation about a move away from the Ligue 1 champions, while Neymar’s future is a source of constant conjecture.
Tuchel felt Mbappe’s comments were unnecessary and admitted he could not be certain the pair would remain at the club.
“As a coach, I do want them to continue, but this is football, we are not naive,” Tuchel told a press conference, as reported by AS.
“Many clubs want to transfer many players and the market is crazy, but if you ask me, the coach, yes, I want them here next season. But if they are not, we will find solutions.
“Mbappe has goals, he is very intelligent and maybe he thought it was time to say it, but he is invited, like all PSG players, to assume responsibilities.
“It is not necessary to make a speech to say that. He’s a special guy, he wants to score, score and score, win all the possible titles… we have to accept it, I’m not angry.”
Tuchel has guided PSG to another dominant league campaign, but the club once again fell short in the Champions League after their shock last-16 exit to Manchester United.
That has raised pressure on the German manager, but he insists he is determined to help the club move forward.
“It’s always my goal to grow and learn, that’s why I’m here,” he added. “It’s a gift to be a coach, it was important for me to work in another country, it’s a great experience, but it’s just the beginning.
“The last phase of the season was a bit difficult, we made an analysis, the club knows it and now we have to improve.”
Struggling to pick out the facts from the figures? Reality from the rubbish? Sense from the silly season? We’ve got you sorted in our daily dose of the Transfer Predictor, where we round up the latest rumours with an analytical spin.
We sort through the most eye-catching transfer reports of the past 24 hours and give a balanced judgment on whether the move really will happen – and why.
RUMOUR: Juventus -> €60m -> Manchester City
The Premier League champions have approached Juventus to discuss a deal for the flying Portugal right-back, according to Record.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: Pep Guardiola’s ambitions are not sated by successive top-flight wins. A desire to bolster ranks for a push at the Champions League burns bright. Cancelo could be sacrificed, for the right price, by Juve after a debut season that began brightly, but has fizzled out.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: A change of regime for Juve with the exit of head coach Massimiliano Allegri could see the 24-year-old retained. Plus, England’s Kyle Walker is already resident at Etihad Stadium and he cost £50 million in July 2017. With Vincent Kompany gone and Nicolas Otamendi reported to be going, City’s priorities may lie in the centre of defence.
TRANSFER PREDICTOR: 5/10
RUMOUR: Barcelona -> €55m -> Manchester United
United are working on a deal to draft in the experienced Croatia centre midfielder as a replacement for Paris Saint-Germain bound Ander Herrera, according to Daily Record.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: The Red Devils are desperate for reinforcements in midfield and they wouldn’t come more rarefied than Rakitic. The 31-year-old has been an immense buy for Barca, but this summer’s arrival of Frenkie de Jong threatens to limit his role. A desire to cash-in to fund purchases of Ajax centre-back Matthijs de Ligt and Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann also increases the odds of a sale.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: United are rudderless and out of the Champions League. Why would Rakitic want to swap the Camp Nou for that? Especially when PSG and Inter Milan continue to be linked. A fee of €55m and enormous wages for someone in their thirties may not appeal for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
TRANSFER PREDICTOR: 5/10
RUMOUR: Unattached -> Free -> Atletico Madrid
The PSG outcast has emerged as Los Rojiblancos’ No1 replacement for Rodri if he departs this summer, according to AS.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: If Man City or Barcelona pay Spain defensive midfielder Rodri’s release clause, Atleti will be helpless to prevent an exit. Rabiot is only 24-years old, but he represents an experienced replacement with 227 PSG matches already notched. An availability on a free transfer only makes him more alluring.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Rabiot has endured a horrific season. Disciplinary issues and a reluctance to extend a contract that expires this summer has meant he hasn’t played since December. Will Atleti want to introduce such an incendiary figure into their squad? There is also reported to be strong competing interest from United and Juventus. Can Atleti compete on wages and signing-on fee?
TRANSFER PREDICTOR: 6/10
Mata’s Manchester United contract expires this summer, though the club and player are still in talks over a new deal to keep him at Old Trafford.
If that does not materialise, however, The Sun are reporting Rafael Benitez wants his fellow Spaniard to join him at St. James’ Park – providing his own talks over a new deal to stay on as Newcastle manager are concluded successfully.
Benitez has clashed with Newcastle hierarchy over transfer budgets almost constantly since bring the club back into the Premier League in 2017, after the Magpies had been relegated at the end of the 2015-16 season despite the Spaniard taking over with 10 games left.
Since then the former Valencia, Inter Milan, Liverpool, and Real Madrid manager has kept Newcastle in the top flight despite working with a shoestring budget under owner Mike Ashley’s stewardship.
Signing Mata, who has also been linked with Barcelona, would be a huge coup for the club – almost as big as getting Benitez himself.
The Spanish playmaker is a Real Madrid academy graduate who became one of his country’s highest-rated players while at Valencia, and after joining Chelsea in 2011, he won the Champions League in his first season at the club. He was the Blues’ player of the season for two straight seasons from 2011 to 2013, before leaving in the 2013-14 season.
Mata was a club-record signing for Man United when he joined in January 2014, and has since made over 200 appearances for the Red Devils, on occasion captaining the side.
This season he joined a select group of players who have scored 50 goals and tallied 50 assists in the Premier League, a feat managed by just 27 players before him.
He is well-regarded as a senior member of the United side, and the club would like to keep him even if they cannot guarantee him a regular starting place in a summer where they have several targets for the right-wing berth Mata usually occupies.