Neymar bags brace amid continued PSG rumours

Neymar scored twice for Barcelona on Saturday as they beat Juventus 2-1 amid continued speculation that he is on the verge of a big-money move to Paris Saint-Germain.

ESPN reported that a source close to PSG said that Neymar had informed the French club that he wants the move and has already agreed personal terms.

Although the two clubs would still need to agree a transfer fee.

Despite the rumours, the Brazilian played for Barca in the International Champions Cup friendly against Juventus in New Jersey.

And he was in superb form, opening the scoring on 15 minutes after a smart one-two with Paco Alcacer.

Neymar then double Barca’s lead on 25 minutes with an even better goal, dancing through the Juventus defence as he beat several defenders before firing past Gianluigi Buffon in goal .

Neymar was then substituted at half time as Barcelona switched all 11 players.

Juventus pulled a goal back through defender Giorgio Chiellini in the 63rd-minute header, but Barcelona held on comfortably for the win.

After the game, Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said they wanted Neymar to stay.

"Barcelona will not do without Neymar," he told a news conference.

"We want him to be with us and we know the impact he has in our game. It's clear."

Morata bids farewell to Madrid

New Chelsea signing Alvaro Morata is excited by the next phase of his career but admits that he does feel like he's leaving a club he calls home.

In a heartfelt statement on his official Twitter account, the 24-year old hitman admits that some people will not understand his decision to swap the La Liga champions for their Premier League counterparts but insists that he gave it no small amount of consideration.

"Today is a special day, different," the statement reads. "There are many things I would like to say now, there are many feelings, many memories that now gather in my head.

"Today my second spell at Real Madrid finishes, today a new phase of my career begins. I'm sure that some will not understand my decision, others will certainly not support it... but in the end that's what it is, my decision. A decision well thought through and considered."

The Spain international pointed out how proud he was to have played a part in Los Blancos' remarkable 2016/17 campaign - a season that saw them lift both the La Liga and Champions League trophies.

"I'm leaving home, because that's how I feel at Real Madrid. I'm going with the clear conscience of someone who gave everything in every training session, in every minute in which I was lucky enough to wear the shirt, with the calm of having been important in an amazing year in which we lifted four trophies, a year that I'm sure neither you nor I will ever forget.

"Thank you also to the coaching staff for everything they have helped me and supported me with, I am a better player than a year ago and it's thanks to them. Thank you also to my team-mates, with whom I shared an amazing season. Thank you to each and every one of the employees of the club who worked hard every day to make life easier for the players.

"And thank you, of course, to the fans, because since my return you have made me feel loved and valued, because you've always been there, from my presentation until the last night at Cibeles... Lastly, and most importantly, thank you to my wife, thank you to my family, to my agent and my friends, who are always there and never let you down."

Mascherano: Valverde won't change Barca's style

Barcelona's Javier Mascherano has told supporters that new coach Ernesto Valverde won't alter the club's commitment to an attacking style of play.

The Catalan club will be hoping that life under the former Athletic Bilbao boss starts with them reclaiming the top spot in the Spanish top-flight after 2016/17 saw them fail in their quest to win a third successive La Liga title.

Mascherano, now a veteran of 196 league appearances for, believes that Valverde has no intention of adjusting a style of play that has been extremely successful for the club despite last season's relative disappointment.

"The style will continue to be the same with Ernesto," the 33-year old told ESPN. "Barcelona is really radicalised in that regards, with how football is played.

"It is important to be the protagonists [with the ball] and to play attacking football. So the style stays the same in that regard," he continued.

"After that, each manager that comes will always add their own touch to their own taste, which will be to do with the systems they could use, the players they can use inside those systems; that's what the manager will decide now."

The Argentina international went on to suggest that he would seriously consider winding down his career in the United States, where the club is currently participating in the International Champions Cup.

"The U.S. is an option because the football has improved a lot here and because it's a nice place to live," he stated.

"It's really clear that it would be a good option, but there are other options, too. I've spoken with some players who've had the chance to play here, and they have all had a really good experience."

Zidane: Ronaldo going nowhere

Zinedine Zidane has left no room for doubt over Cristiano Ronaldo’s future after insisting the striker will stay at Real Madrid.

There was intense speculation over Ronaldo’s status at the Bernabeu earlier this summer after widespread reports that he was considering leaving the Champions League winners, due to scrutiny over his taxes.

Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain were both linked with the 32-year-old, yet Madrid boss Zidane has delivered a clear hands-off.

"In the end, Cristiano is one of us," Zidane said.

"He's going to stay with us. And that's it. He's on holiday as of today.

“He's resting, as he's deserved it. We wait for him to finish his holiday and join us."

Madrid will be in the market to buy a striker, rather than sell one, after offloading Alvaro Motta.

Along with several other clubs, Real have been linked with Monaco’s hot prospect Kylian Mbappe, although Zidane refused to be drawn on a move.

"[He's a] very good player. His talent at 18 years, his personality is very good," Zidane added on ESPN.

"As a player, everything that he showed all last year and nothing more. He's not my player; apart from what I told you, I can't say more."



 

Newcastle complete Manquillo deal

Newcastle United have completed their fourth off-season signing after announcing the arrival of defender Javier Manquillo on a three-year deal.

Upon failing to break into the first-team squad at Atletico Madrid, the Spain youth international full-back signed for an undisclosed for with the EFL Championship winners.

Manquillo, 23, is no stranger to the Premier League after loan spells with Liverpool and Sunderland in previous seasons and becomes manager Rafa Benitez latest acquisition following the arrivals of Christian Atsu, Florian Lejeune and Jacob Murphy.

The Atleti academy graduate revealed his admiration for the Magpies head coach and claims joining a club the size of the newly promoted side is an exciting challenge.

"I'm very happy to be here. From the first moment that Rafa Benitez called me, I just knew that I had to come here, to such a big club," he told the club's official website. "I'm very happy with the challenge ahead.

"I've come here to work hard and give everything on and off the pitch. Hopefully then everything will go in the right direction."

Koln sign Mere from Gijon

Koln have confirmed the signing of Spain youth international defender Jorge Mere from Sporting Gijon on a five-year contract ahead of the new season.

Mere, 20, was said to be close to landing deals with Sampdoria and Malaga but the Bundesliga side won the race with a reported €7million deal.

The Rojiblancos academy graduate admitted he's looking forward to featuring in the upcoming season's Europa League with the German top-flight side.

"I'm really looking forward to Cologne and proving myself in the Bundesliga and the Europa League," he told the club’s official website.

"It's a club where young players can develop themselves. There were plenty of rumours, but my aim was always to join Koln."

Mere featured 31 times in defence last season as Sporting were relegated from the Spanish Primera League.

Barcelona president rules out Neymar sale

Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu has ruled out a possible sale of Neymar - and says any club looking to buy him would have to break Financial Fair Play rules.

Neymar has been linked with a world record move to Paris Saint-Germain over recent days, with the French club reportedly willing to meet the buy-out clause in the Brazilian’s contract - set around the £200million mark.

However, Bartomeu has rubbished the prospect of Neymar leaving the Nou Camp after he penned a three-year contract extension last October.

"He is not on the market,” he told the Associated Press.

"He has a contract for the coming four years and, of course, we count on him. He's part of our team. He's part of this trident.”

Crucially, Bartomeu believes that if PSG were to meet the buyout clause, then they would immediately be in breach of UEFA’s FFP legislation.

He added: "These clauses are impossible to activate, if you want to comply with the financial fair play. If someone doesn't want to comply, then, of course, it can be activated."

 

Xavi: La Masia got complacent

Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi has accused the club's youth system of resting on their laurels in recent years after a lack of Academy graduates developing into first-team players.

The former Spain international, now 37 and playing for Qatari side Al Sadd, came through the ranks along with other current and former stars, but the flow of players from La Masia to the first team has dried up in recent years.

"I think, in general, Barca became a bit complacent," Xavi told The Tactical Room. "I'm sure people thought: 'There's Puyol, Iniesta, [Lionel] Messi, [Victor] Valdes, [Gerard] Pique ... Pedro and [Sergio] Busquets are coming though. This is all going well. Surely every two years or so more players will come through, too.'

"But it's not like that, that's not how things work. I learned to play in La Masia, not in the first team. The academy coaches have to develop players, they have to teach.

"Winning the [youth] league doesn't matter. You have to form players at that age. If you win, good, but it's not the objective."

Barcelona B recently won promotion back to the second tier of Spanish football, which should, in theory, make the leap between the club's first and second teams less daunting, but Xavi is convinced.

"I'm glad for them but it's not essential," he added. "Guardiola took over the B team in the fourth division and took Busquets and Pedro into the first team -- Jeffren, Victor Sanchez and Bojan, too.

"The B team being in the second or third division doesn't matter. The main point is to develop players for a certain style of play. That's the priority.

"The first question is: How many players have the ability to play for the first team? Right now, the answer's not positive.

"The B team's objective is to have six, eight, even 10 players with the potential to go straight into the first team. Not two or three.

"The first team coach needs to rely on the full-back or the midfielder if players get injured. That's why there's an academy. And, in general, I think Barcelona have fallen asleep in that regard."

Morata happy about Chelsea move

Alvaro Morata said he is ‘very happy’ about his imminent move to Chelsea and said the reigning Premier League champions were the club that 'always wanted him'.

The Stamford Bridge side agreed an initial £58 million fee with Real Madrid for the services of the 24-year old striker, a fee that could rise to £70m with add-ons.

Morata left Madrid’s training camp in Los Angeles on Wednesday for London where he will undergo a medical and finalise the terms of his deal.

“I am very happy, God willing, tomorrow I will be at Chelsea, a club that has always wanted me,” the striker told Marca.

“I’m not disappointed about anything, I’ve won four titles here [with Real Madrid], but now I only think of putting on the Chelsea shirt.

“I want to grow up, if I didn’t I wouldn’t have left. I’d like to thank Zidane and wish him luck for the upcoming season.

“Thanks to all the Madridistas who supported me. I will always wish Madrid the best.

“I’m going to the team managed by the coach [Antonio Conte] who has placed the most faith in me, and that’s great for me,” said Morata.

Conte tried to sign the player last summer, but Madrid would not sell him as he had recently returned to the club from Juventus.

But he didn’t feature last season much under Zinedine Zidane last season, starting just 18 games in all competitions.

The player had been on record saying he was unhappy with his lack of playing time.

Morata was set to join Manchester United earlier in the summer, but Jose Mourinho’s side were unable to finalise a transfer fee with Madrid and ended up buying Romelu Lukaku from Everton instead..

Should the deal go through, Morata will become Chelsea’s fourth signing of the summer after keeper Willy Caballero, defender Antonio Rudiger and midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko.

Blues strike Morata deal

Chelsea announced they have reached an agreement with Real Madrid over the transfer of Alvaro Morata to the English capital.

Blues boss Antonio Conte has been in the market for another striker since informing Diego Costa that he was surplus to requirements for the new season.

The west Londoners had attempted to hijack Manchester United's move for Romelu Lukaku, but failed to bring the Belgium international back to Stamford Bridge.

Morata had also been a target for the Red Devils before they settled on Lukaku, and the Premier League champions have now struck a deal with Los Blancos - something their domestic rivals could not manage.

The Spain international spent just one year back at the Santiago Bernabeu after rejoining Real from Juventus in 2016, winning the La Liga and UEFA Champions League titles.

But the 24-year-old striker admitted earlier in the off-season that he was considering his options due to a lack of game time for Zinedine Zidane's side, having started just 14 times in the league, although he bagged 15 goals.

"Chelsea Football Club and Real Madrid have agreed terms for the transfer of Alvaro Morata to Stamford Bridge," read a statement on the English club's official website.

"The move is now subject to him agreeing personal terms and passing a medical."