EXCLUSIVE: Qatar-owned PSG in frantic bid to keep star man Neymar

Neymar has scored 19 goals in 20 games for PSG since his $262 million move to the French capital last summer.
Updated 18 May 2018
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EXCLUSIVE: Qatar-owned PSG in frantic bid to keep star man Neymar

  • Neymar has had an up and down season at PSG since his world-record move to the Parc Des Princes.
  • Brazilian star publicly and privately encouraged to return to Spanish football by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.

LONDON: Paris Saint-Germain have made it clear to Neymar that there are absolutely no circumstances under which the Qatar-owned club’s record signing will be allowed to leave for Real Madrid this summer.
If necessary, PSG are prepared to present the Brazil international with the option of playing his football in Paris next season or not playing football at all, sources at the club have told Arab News.
Privately and publicly encouraged by Madrid president Florentino Perez to return to Spanish football just one year after his global record transfer from Barcelona, Neymar and his father have been agitating for the move for months. According to PSG sources, Qatar will not countenance handing over the most high-profile and expensive acquisition of a project designed to secure the club’s first Champions League.
Senior club figures have spent much of Neymar’s first season attempting to placate the Brazil international. In just one example, club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and sporting director Antero Henrique flew to South America in March to meet Neymar and his father and discuss how the club could keep the pair happy. Talks between the two camps included asking Neymar’s thoughts on who should replace Unai Emery as PSG coach, said a source close to the player.
The meeting followed a debut campaign pockmarked by evidence of Neymar’s discontent in France. There has been on and off-field tension between the forward and leading goalscorer Edinson Cavani, whom the Brazil international wanted to replace as the taker of the side’s penalties and free kicks.
Neymar complained about coach Emery’s tactics, man management and refusal to allow him to skip certain matches. On more than one occasion, the forward unilaterally declared himself unfit to play. As he recovered from surgery on a fractured metatarsal in his home country, the 26-year-old provoked further controversy by posting an image of himself playing online poker while his PSG team-mates secured the Ligue 1 title.
Bought out of his Barcelona contract for €222 million ($262 million) at the beginning of August, Neymar was rewarded with a basic salary worth more than €300 million over the length of a five-year contract — at that point the most lucrative ever agreed. No release clause was included in the Brazilian’s new deal, however, so a second successive summer switch can only happen with Qatari consent.
That, according to PSG sources, will not be forthcoming, with the club’s hierarchy ready to reprise the negotiating tactics with which they kept Marco Verratti in France a year ago. Holding offers from leading Liga and Serie A sides, the Italy midfielder pushed PSG to be allowed to leave only to be told that his options were: “To stay. Or stay and not play. Whichever you’d prefer.”
Verratti stayed and played. PSG are confident that, ultimately, Neymar will make the same choice under Thomas Tuchel, the new coach appointed by the club with the aim of landing a first Champions League. Last week Neymar published an image of himself in his employer’s 2018-19 first-team kit. “Proud to wear the new jersey and to continue giving you joy,” read the caption.


‘Captain fantastic’ Harry Kane to the rescue as England beat Tunisia at the death

Updated 19 June 2018
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‘Captain fantastic’ Harry Kane to the rescue as England beat Tunisia at the death

  • Harry Kane came to the rescue with two goals, the second a dramatic injury-time winner
  • England had started brightly in a blur of passing and movement and could have been two goals up inside the first four minutes

VOLGOGRAD, Russia: Captain Harry Kane came to the rescue with two goals, the second a dramatic injury-time winner, as England began their World Cup Group G campaign with a stuttering 2-1 win over Tunisia on Monday.
Gareth Southgate’s men almost paid a heavy price for missing a slew of first-half chances when Tunisia’s Ferjani Sassi slotted home a softly-awarded penalty 20 minutes before half-time.
And the north Africans were still level as the game went past the 90-minute mark.
But Harry Maguire won a header from a corner and Kane was on hand at the far post to nod in the winner before being mobbed by his ecstatic teammates.
“I’m so proud of the lads,” Kane said. “They kept going, kept going to the last second.
“I am absolutely buzzing, everyone on the staff is. It shows good character to get the job done.”
England had started brightly in a blur of passing and movement and could have been two goals up inside the first four minutes.
First Jordan Henderson’s lofted first-time pass released Dele Alli and when the ball eventually broke to Jesse Lingard he saw his shot from six yards saved by the outstretched left boot of Mouez Hassen in the Tunisia goal.
Kane had been kept quiet in the opening salvos but he exploded into action in the 11th minute when he cut inside from the left and saw his shot from the edge of the box deflected wide for a corner.
Ashley Young delivered the set piece for John Stones to rise highest and meet with a powerful header. Hassen saved acrobatically but Kane was on hand to tap home the rebound with his right foot and open his World Cup account.
Hassen, who had injured his left shoulder making an earlier save, could not continue and left the field in tears as he was replaced in goal by Farouk Ben Mustapha.
England continued to press and were made to pay for not converting a succession of chances when they conceded a soft penalty.
Kyle Walker swung a lazy arm across Fakhreddine Ben Youssef who fell as if poleaxed and Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan pointed to the spot, with his decision being upheld by the VAR.
Ferjani Sassi took one step and fired home confidently past the hitherto unemployed Jordan Pickford and Tunisia who had been outplayed for the first half-hour were somehow level 10 minutes before half-time.
Still there was time for Lingard to come close again twice, first from a goalbound shot and then a dink over the keeper which agonizingly struck the post.
Alli too hit the woodwork with a header and England went into half-time wondering how they had not sealed victory already.
England still enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but could not find the same zip and penetration they had enjoyed at the start of the first half.
The ineffective Sterling gave way to Marcus Rashford with just over 20 minutes to go and the Manchester United man almost fashioned a chance straight away with a jinking run into the box.