Barcelona officials head to Paris for Neymar talks

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar attends a training session. (AFP)
Updated 13 August 2019

Barcelona officials head to Paris for Neymar talks

  • Paris Saint-Germain revealed on Saturday that Neymar transfer talks are “more advanced than before”

MADRID: Barcelona officials headed to France on Tuesday for talks with Paris Saint-Germain to seal a return to the Spanish club for Brazilian star Neymar.

The club’s director for football, retired French international Eric Abidal, and two other top club officials few to Paris to meet with their Paris Saint-Germain counterparts, Catalan radio Rac1 and Catalan television TV3 reported.

“The breakthrough is significant as PSG had up until now refused to meet with Barcelona emissaries but it does not mean that the deal is close,” Rac1 wrote on its website.

The deal which the Barcelona officials will propose could include other players such as Philippe Coutinho or Ivan Rakitic, it added.

Paris Saint-Germain revealed on Saturday that Neymar transfer talks are “more advanced than before” after the Brazilian was dropped from the French champions’ opening Ligue 1 match.

Sporting director Leonardo confirmed to reporters that the Brazilian was near the exit door but that PSG were “not yet ready to give their approval” for the transfer.

Real Madrid or a return to Barcelona are the most likely destinations for the world’s most expensive footballer, who won two La Liga titles and the 2015 Champions League in four years with the Catalan side.

Sports newspaper AS has reported that Neymar has been offered to Madrid by PSG, who are open to selling if they can either recoup the €222 million ($249 million) they spent on him in 2017 or receive half that amount with players included in the deal.

But Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo says that he would prefer a move back to Catalonia to play alongside former teammates Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.


Juventus coach Sarri: Cristiano is in another class

Updated 20 January 2020

Juventus coach Sarri: Cristiano is in another class

  • The 38-year-old is the only player to have scored at least league 15 goals in each of the last 14 seasons

MILAN: Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to form has coincided with Juventus taking a firm grip on Serie A.

Ronaldo did not score at all in November, but he scored twice as Juventus beat Parma 2-1 on Sunday to take his tally to 11 in his last seven league matches.

The win also put Juventus on course for a record-extending ninth straight Serie A title as the Bianconeri moved four points above Inter Milan. They were two points behind the Nerazzurri a month and a half ago.

Ronaldo has struggled with injury this season and missed three Serie A matches, playing through pain in others.

The 38-year-old Portugal forward has nevertheless scored 16 goals in 17 matches, becoming the first Juventus player to have that many goals after 20 matches since Omar Sivori in 1960.

Ronaldo is also the only player to have scored at least 15 goals in one of Europe’s top five leagues in each of the last 14 seasons.

“Cristiano is in another class,” Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri said. “Sometimes he poses you a little bit of a problem but he will solve 100 others for you.”

While Juventus managed to grind out results in November when Ronaldo wasn’t scoring, Inter struggle when their top scorers are not on form.

There have been three matches since December where neither Romelu Lukaku nor Lautaro Martínez have managed to find the back of the net. All three ended in draws.

The latest was a surprise 1-1 result at relegation-threatened Lecce on Sunday.

That is also down to a general drop in pace in the team as, prior to that, Inter had managed to win the previous four matches where Lukaku and Martínez didn’t score.

“The final result stems from the fact that we’re a team that needs to go at 200 kph. We cannot afford to be off the pace,” Inter coach Antonio Conte said. “It’s evident that if we go at an average pace, if we go into cruise speed, we become a normal team and aren’t able to get a result.”

Substitute

Mario Balotelli’s match lasted only seven minutes on Sunday and he could now find himself with even less playing time in the coming weeks.

Balotelli came on as a substitute in the 74th minute of Brescia’s 2-2 draw against Cagliari but shortly afterward was shown a yellow card for a high tackle and then immediately shown a second after repeatedly swearing at the referee.

Depending on what referee Antonio Giua writes in his report, Balotelli could be suspended for several matches.

The forward will certainly miss Brescia’s next match, against former team AC Milan.

“I think the yellow card was too harsh. Mario didn’t feel it was right, and his protests didn’t seem excessive to me,” Brescia coach Eugenio Corini said. “It’s a pity because he came on with the desire to make us win the match.”

Balotelli was banned for the first four matches of the Serie A season following a red card in his last match with Marseille last season.

“It’s incredible how one episode can always drastically change from too negative or too positive everyone’s opinion on the character or professionalism of a person,” Balotelli wrote on his Instagram story after the match. “I will continue with my daily work this time, too. It’s not a problem. You can continue to judge me as you wish.”