Gerard Pique 'awaiting for developments' to Neymar's Barcelona return

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Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has urged former team-mate Neymar to speak out if he wants to return to the Catalan club.

The 27-year-old Brazil forward has been linked with a return to the Nou Camp, possibly initially on loan, following his world-record £198million move to Paris Saint-Germain two years ago.

Pique, speaking in Miami on his club’s pre-season North American tour, did little to quell the speculation.

“I think he’s a great player, he knows the dressing room, the city and the club,” the Spain international said, quoted by sport.es.

“There are people who were dissatisfied with the way he left, but there are many people who were very satisfied with his performances.

“It is a complicated operation. He is a PSG player and the squad we have now is important enough to challenge for all titles.

“If the opportunity arises, you already know the relationship I have with him, and I would be delighted if he returns, but he is a PSG player. A personal opinion does not change anything,

“Of course we talk to him. It is also not appropriate to say what we are talking about. If he wants to express himself or give his opinion, he has to do that.

“He is a ‘crack’ on and off the pitch and we are waiting for developments. I cannot say more.”

The pair have not always been on the same page, however.

Pique posted a picture of himself with Neymar on social media in July 2017 alongside the words “Se queda” (“He stays”). Just over a week later, Neymar joined PSG.

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Gerard Pique wants Tottenham target Philippe Coutinho to stick around at Barcelona

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Tottenham appear to be zeroing in on a loan move for Philippe Coutinho, but if it were up to Gerard Pique, he’d make sure his Barcelona team-mate remained at Camp Nou.

Spurs have jolted into life in the transfer market just 36 hours away from the end of the British transfer window (GST: 20:00), having had a bid accepted for Juventus attacker Paulo Dybala while they remain on the tails of Sporting Lisbon playmaker Bruno Fernandes and Real Betis’ Giovani Lo Celso.

Former Liverpool man Coutinho is now seemingly another option for Mauricio Pochettino, as the club work to thrash out a loan deal with Barca before the window closes.

Barcelona are currently in Miami as part of their pre-season tour and Pique is crossing his fingers that Coutinho sticks around to compete for a spot in an attack that has seen the addition of Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann.

“I want him (Coutinho) to stay, but at the end of the day it’s what he wants and I want him to be happy,” said Pique.

“Let’s see. Until the last day of the transfer market we will not know if he stays or not. But it’s not my decision, it’s the club’s and Philippe’s.”

Pique, 32, is bidding for his ninth La Liga title with Barcelona next year, though is wary of expecting too much from the Champions League after being the victims of heart-breaking comebacks in successive years against Roma and Liverpool.

“The arrival of players like Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann will certainly help us in all competitions,” added Pique.

“We have to see the season with perspective. We won La Liga last season which was great, but we should control expectations with the Champions League. Our main goal is La Liga, the Champions League is like Russian roulette.”

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Transfer Predictor: Christian Eriksen's £50m Man United switch a 7, Arsenal's swoop for Daniele Rugani a 6

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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, or why not.

Today’s edition features moves for Manchester United, Arsenal and Everton.

CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN

Christian Eriksen

Christian Eriksen

Tottenham -> £50m -> Manchester United

Manchester United have opened talks with Christian Eriksen over a summer move from TottenhamThe Independent says.

WHY IT CAN HAPPEN

United’s midfield is severely lacking quality and in Eriksen they would get a creative playmaker proven in the Premier League and capable of chipping in with goals. The Dane stands to secure a lucrative deal at Old Trafford and would ease pressure on Paul Pogba to be the sole creative force.

At 27, Eriksen could legitimately produce his best for another five years and fits nicely into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s desire to press in the opposition’s half. He also comes with a wealth of experience that United’s young squad can benefit from. The Red Devils aren’t going to get a midfielder of his calibre for £50m anywhere else and Daniel Levy will be desperate to avoid losing the player for free next summer.

WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN

You have to question the midfielder’s motivation behind the switch. In north London he’s part of settled squad operating within a strong structure and enjoying Champions League football. None of that yet exists at United. He may decide to wait until the end of this window for Real Madrid to make a strong bid.

He could even opt to endure a season on the sidelines and then move on a free transfer next summer, making him all the more appealing to clubs across Europe.

TRANSFER RATING: 7/10

DANIELE RUGANI

Daniele Rugani

Juventus -> £37m -> Arsenal

Arsenal have agreed personal terms with Daniele Rugani but are still negotiating a transfer fee with Juventus, according to Sport Italia.

WHY IT CAN HAPPEN

Signing a centre-back remains a priority for the Gunners given William Saliba has returned to Saint-Etienne on loan and Laurent Koscielny has completed a move to Bordeaux.

They seem to be priced out of a move for Dayot Upamecano and Rugani appears to be a more affordable option. The 25-year-old has been on the fringes of the Juventus first team and Matthijs de Ligt’s arrival this summer only reduces his chances of establishing himself.

WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN

Again, Arsenal’s financial limitations stand in their way. Juventus are reportedly unsatisfied with a £37m which is supposedly tied to a tedious payment structure as well that may include an initial two-year loan. The Gunners stand a real chance of signing Rugani but they’ve got to loosen the purse strings.

TRANSFER RATING: 6/10

WILFRIED ZAHA

Wilfried Zaha

Crystal Palace -> Player + cash -> Everton

Everton are determined to persist with their pursuit of Wilfrid Zaha despite having another bid rejected, according to the Telegraph.

WHY IT CAN HAPPEN

Zaha has been vying for a move away from Selhurst Park all summer and at Everton there appears to be an ambitious project coming together. The addition of the Ivory Coast winger would only boost an already exciting looking Toffees attack. Palace are playing hard ball but should be keen to cash in on Zaha.

WHY IT CAN’T HAPPEN

It may be a little late in the window for Roy Hodgson to find a replacement should Zaha leave. Their survival this season could hinge on the 26-year-old’s contributions. A latest bid of over £52m plus Cenk Tosun has already been rejected. How much higher would Everton want to go?

TRANSFER RATING 5/10

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