Lionel Messi feared Neymar was off to Real Madrid instead of Barcelona last summer

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Neymar remains in Paris after a summer of speculation that put other historic transfer sagas to shame – but Lionel Messi admits he was certain he’d leave for Real Madrid if not Barcelona.

Neither Barcelona nor Real could agree to terms with Paris Saint-Germain for the Brazilian, with the Parisians standing pat on their valuation of a player they had bought for 222m two seasons ago.

Neymar was not shy in making his feelings known over the summer – PSG boss Thomas Tuchel went as far to concede ‘he tried everything in his power’ to leave the club.

A reunion with Messi and Luis Suarez looked almost certain at one point – but that dream could well have turned into a nightmare for the Blaugrana.

It is well known that Madrid president Florentino Perez has long admired Neymar’s talents and Messi had at one point feared he would be lining up against his fellow superstar attacker as a rival in El Clasico.

“I really thought Neymar would go to Real Madrid if he didn’t come here,” Messi said in an interview with RAC1.

“He really wanted to leave Paris and he’d shown it.

“And I thought that Florentino [Perez] and Real Madrid were going to do something to sign him.”

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Man United eye move for Tottenham star Harry Kane in January

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Harry Kane

There is speculation in several publications that Manchester United will look to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham in January.

The Red Devils have scored just 11 goals in all competitions this season – four of which came against Chelsea in their opening match.

In the same period, England striker Kane has scored 11 goals on his own for club and country.

Wilfried Zaha is to sue his agent over a failed transfer away from Crystal Palace in the summer, the Daily Mail reports.

Everton are weighing up a January move for reported Manchester United target Moussa Dembele, according to the Daily Star.

The 23-year-old former Celtic and Fulham striker could cost £40m to prise from Lyon.

Liverpool are set to receive just £4.5m of the £84m Barcelona still owe for Philippe Coutinho, the Daily Mirror says, citing reports in Spain.

Coutinho joined Bayern Munich on a season-long loan this summer with an option to make the move permanent.

Both Chelsea and Arsenal are interested in signing 17-year-old Anderlecht striker Jeremy Doku, The Sun reports.

Players to watch

Jordan Hugill: West Ham are happy to let the striker go in January, according to Football Insider. Hugill, 27, is enjoying a strong season on loan in the Championship at QPR.

Mipo Odubeko: The Hammers, meanwhile, have tabled a “lucrative” offer for the former Manchester United academy graduate, talksport.com reports.

Ben Chilwell: Chelsea and Manchester City are both prepared to splash out £50m to bring in Leicester’s marauding left-back, The Sun reports.

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Mauricio Pochettino seeking exit but Tottenham won't sack £32 million manager

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Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is looking to leave the club, but Spurs will not sack him because they would have to pay him £32million, according to the Daily Mail.

The paper says that Tottenham players have seen the Argentinian become “noticeably distant” at the club’s training facilities.

The report follows Spurs’ 7-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Former Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri is reportedly prepared to wait until the end of the season before making his move to the Premier League.

The Sun reports the Italian, who won five consecutive Serie A titles with the Italian giants, has been taking English language lessons and could be a candidate for the top job at either Tottenham or Manchester United.

Still at Old Trafford and The Sun also says manager Ole Gunner Solskjaer is targeting fellow Norwegian Martin Odegaard.

The 20-year-old winger has turned heads during his loan spell at Real Sociedad from Real Madrid.

Odegaard made his debut for his country’s senior squad at 15, and his current form has Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane thinking about bringing him back to the Bernabeu.

Solskjaer, however, will reportedly have plenty of competition for the gifted young player’s services, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal also said to be interested.

Martin Odegaard

Martin Odegaard

Erling Braut Haaland is another Norwegian being targeted by United, according to the Daily Mirror, and he made his mark at Anfield by scoring in Red Bull Salzburg’s 4-3 win over Liverpool.

Haaland is the son of Alf-Inge, who represented Manchester City, Leeds and Nottingham Forest, and apparently consistently reminds his son that he scored at Anfield during his 10-year career in England.

Former Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri is keen to link up again with N’Golo Kante at Juventus, according to the Daily Mail.

The France midfielder played under the Italian during his solitary season in charge at Stamford Bridge and now Sarri is said to be keen to bring him to Turin.

Juventus reportedly believe a fee of around £70million will be enough to get their man.

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