Benfica have announced the signing of Brazil winger David Neres from Shakhtar Donetsk, as the Lisbon giants move to strengthen their squad following the sale of Darwin Nunez to Liverpool. 

Neres has signed a five-year contract with Benfica, who have agreed to pay a reported €15.3million for the tricky 25-year-old. 

Neres rose to prominence during a five-year spell at Eredivisie giants Ajax, scoring 47 goals and supplying 34 assists in 180 appearances in all competitions. He impressed during their run to the Champions League semi-finals under Erik ten Hag in 2018-19. 

The winger left Ajax for Shakhtar last January but never played an official game for the club after the Russian invasion of Ukraine led to the suspension of the country's top flight. 

Neres told Benfica's website he was thrilled to have the opportunity to play regularly again in a comfortable setting. 

"It is good to arrive in a country where everyone speaks Portuguese, and I am very happy to sign for the club. Benfica is a big club in Europe and in the world," he said. 

"Everyone knows how strong Benfica is and how great the club is. I am happy to have the opportunity to play football again, something I love. 

"I hope the adaptation will be easy. I lived five years in the Netherlands, where the language and climate are totally different. Here in Portugal, I have everything going for me and I hope it will be easier." 

Neres won all seven of his international caps during 2019, starting two games as Brazil won the Copa America, and will hope his move to the 37-time Portuguese champions can aid his chances of breaking back into Tite's squad for the World Cup in Qatar this year. 

Benfica have allowed another Brazilian winger to leave the club to facilitate the deal, with Everton – who has 25 caps for the Selecao – being sold to Flamengo. 

Brazil coach Tite declared "it's time to be champions" as the Selecao eye World Cup success in Qatar.

Tite's side coasted through South American World Cup qualifying, going unbeaten as they booked a place at this year's showpiece tournament.

Brazil have not won the World Cup since 2002, their fifth triumph overall, and will first have to contend with Serbia on November 24 before clashes against Switzerland and Cameroon follow in Group G.

Argentina are another force in the battle for the trophy, with the Copa America champions undefeated in 33 games – the longest intact unbeaten run in international football.

Holders France will also prove stern competition, while England, Belgium, Spain and Germany are among the favourites for success.

But Tite insists it is time for Brazil, who have overtaken Belgium at the top of the world rankings, to deliver.

"I'm expectant but focused. We reached the World Cup; now it's time to reach the final and be champions. This is the truth," he told The Guardian. 

"At the last World Cup I was the manager because of other circumstances [Dunga was fired in 2016 and Tite took over].

"Now I have had the opportunity to do the full four-year cycle. Expectations are high but the focus is on work. The pressure we face is a problem: the responsibility, the pressure of the position, the demands.

"When I was a supporter, I wanted the team to be the best. It's what moves us. But mental health is important. I think about what [Nelson] Mandela said: 'Courage is the ability to face fear'. 

"In every decision he made, fear was present. When I read that, I saw that I am a normal citizen. I have my fears, my nightmares, my little goosebumps. Fear but not dread; fear and dread are different."

Vinicius Junior has come to the forefront for Real Madrid in the 2021-22 campaign, but Tite believes Neymar remains the main star for Brazil.

"Neymar is Neymar. He remains our biggest star. The difference now is that the glow is diluted by nearby stars that can also shine," he added.

"Neymar's greatness is that he understands this – about the growth of these kids. He encourages the boys to go up a level. Time and experience provide this maturity.

"Because of Neymar's greatness, there will always be great expectations. But now it's diluted. It's Neymar, but also Vinícius, Raphinha; Thiago [Silva] is at a high level again, Paqueta, Casemiro, Fabinho too."

Tite has come into criticism during his spell as Brazil boss, particularly after a quarter-final exit at the 2018 World Cup, but he believes the questioning of his methods is unfair.

"We need time to understand. Works are best seen when they are at a distance, finished. We have results," Tite said.

"What people are expecting? We beat the record [for the most points] in the qualifiers. We have the longest unbeaten streak, 12 games [under Tite in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup] and now 17 games without a loss [in the 2022 qualifiers]. That is 29 games."

Real Madrid's Rodrygo Goes claims he rejected the opportunity to join Los Blancos' eternal rivals Barcelona when leaving Santos in 2019.

Rodryo played a crucial role as Madrid won their 14th European title this season, scoring a remarkable late double in a stunning 6-5 aggregate semi-final triumph over Manchester City before coming off the bench in the 1-0 final win over Liverpool.

The 21-year-old also registered eight goal involvements (four goals, four assists) as Madrid won LaLiga, with only Karim Benzema (27), Vinicius Junior (17) and Marco Asensio (10) outscoring him among his team-mates.

But things could have been very different for the attacker, who has told the podcast Podpah of how he chose the Santiago Bernabeu over Camp Nou when leaving his home country.

Recalling Barca's bid for him three years ago, Rodrygo said his father was incredulous when he stalled on the Blaugrana's offer, telling him: "What do you expect? You are going to play with [Lionel] Messi!"

But things ultimately worked out well for the attacker, who has also broken into the Brazil squad and looks well placed to feature for his nation at the Qatar World Cup later this year.

"A normal day, I came home after a game," he recalled. "I had a Real Madrid shirt in my house and my father came into my room wearing that shirt and another Barcelona shirt.

"He told me, 'now choose'... and I chose the one for Real Madrid."

Rodrygo has revealed that international team-mate Neymar wants him to inherit Brazil's famous number 10 shirt when the Paris Saint-Germain star retires from international football.

The Selecao are seeking to win a first World Cup title in 20 years in Qatar, where an impressive forward line is set to include Neymar, along with Real Madrid duo Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior.

Neymar had already hinted that the 2022 tournament could be his last and appears to have relayed that message to his compatriots, with Rodrygo apparently in line to inherit the iconic number 10 shirt.

"Neymar said to me 'I'm already leaving the national team and the 10 is yours'," he told Podpah.

"I didn't even know what to say to him. I was embarrassed, I giggled and didn't even know what to say properly.

"I told him that he must play some more, that I didn't want [him] to [do so] now. And then he laughed."

Neymar is the latest in a long line of greats to grace the famous shirt for Brazil, following the likes of Zico, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Pele – while he sits just three goals shy of the latter's goalscoring record for his national team.

Expectations are high for Rodrygo, who has been capped five times, and the 21-year-old revealed that Zinedine Zidane has also touted him to become the best player in the world.

"Zidane said that one day I would be the best in the world," he added.

"Carlo Ancelotti also spoke about me. I try to train and evolve every day to get there. I was very happy. 

"I have this dream and I know that if I dedicate myself every day, I can get there."

Brazil open their World Cup campaign on November 24 against Serbia, with Switzerland and Cameroon also in Group G.

Brazil legend Roberto Carlos has hailed compatriot Marcelo as the "best left-back of all time".

Marcelo will leave Real Madrid at the end of this month, ending a 15-year stay in the Spanish capital which saw him become Los Blancos' most decorated player.

While playing a limited role in his final season under Carlo Ancelotti, Marcelo lifted the LaLiga title and won the Champions League, taking his trophy count to 25 with Madrid.

The 34-year-old was brought in to replace Roberto Carlos when he left Madrid in 2007, and the Brazil legend has lavished praise on his fellow countryman.

"Marcelo, in my opinion, has been the best left-back of all time. He knows, I have talked to him many times," the 49-year-old told reporters.

"It is a shame that he has left Madrid. He is not finishing his career. He continues his sequence in his career as a football player. He has four or five years more.

"We, from Madrid, are very grateful to him for the titles, 25 titles. He overcame me very easily. I saw him grow in Real Madrid, he arrived there when he was 17 years old.

"I didn't go to his [farewell] presentation because I knew I was going to cry. It was his farewell, I knew I was going to cry because I've seen him grow up and look what he's done.

"Nowadays there a lot of questions about who was better, Roberto Carlos or Marcelo, but there is no dispute between me and Marcelo, as he is like my son.

"I know that he has a great story with Real Madrid. For me, it is as if I was winning with him.

"I wish him the best of luck and thank you very much for everything and that he continues to be an idol, an example a phenomenon."

A "very optimistic" Roberto Carlos declared "it is time to win" as he backed Brazil to lift the World Cup in Qatar.

The Selecao breezed through South American World Cup qualifying, topping their group after going unbeaten before the rearranged clash with Argentina on September 22.

Argentina are another force to be reckoned in the battle for the famous Jules Rimet trophy, having gone undefeated in 33 games – the longest intact unbeaten run in international football.

Holders France are also among the contenders, while England, Spain and Germany will be expected to provide stern competition at world football's showpiece event.

Roberto Carlos was in the team that won Brazil's fifth and most recent World Cup in 2002, and he believes Tite's side will end a 20-year wait to be crowned champions in December.

 

"The most important thing is that Brazil have a great team," he told reporters. "It's time to win, because the last photo we have is ours [in 2002].

"I am very optimistic. It is not easy to win a World Cup. In recent times, the Brazilian team are as usual, since our time, they have played great games, but have never been so good.

"The Copa America is important but for the Brazilians, this World Cup is going to be very important and has a special flavour, the moment of the national team is very good.

"At least the European press put Brazil as one of the favourites. This is already an important factor.

"Luis Enrique commented on it the other day, if you ask any other national team coach, the Brazilian team is one of the four favourites for this World Cup. If they prepare well, Brazil will win again."

Brazil start their World Cup campaign against Serbia on November 24, with clashes against Switzerland and Cameroon to follow in Group G.

An emotional Marcelo declared Real Madrid have "a promising future" as the Los Blancos legend issued his farewell at the Santiago Bernabeu on Monday.

Marcelo has been with Los Blancos since 2007, making almost 550 appearances for the LaLiga giants, but confirmed he would depart after last month's Champions League final victory over Liverpool.

That was the fifth Champions League title added to the left-back's illustrious trophy haul, while he played a part as Madrid lifted their 35th LaLiga title with four games to spare.

The Spanish top-flight success made him Madrid's most decorated player in history after lifting 24 trophies with the club, before adding another European triumph to extend his record.

Marcelo only appeared 18 times in all competitions in the 2021-22 campaign, but the 34-year-old is delighted to leave behind a legacy at "the best club in the world".

"When I left Brazil I had in mind to play in Europe, to play in the Champions League and now when I leave Real Madrid, I leave as the player with the most titles in the history of the best club in the world and that is something historic," he said at his farewell news conference.

"There are no words to explain the gratitude, the work of all those who are behind it, all of them. I have tried for all these years, I have treated everyone equally.

"There will be no problem coming back. I don't feel like I am leaving, but there will be no problem.

"I have always lived for the moment. I have not thought beyond it. Here they gave me the opportunity to play it all and to win it all on the magical nights at the Bernabeu.

"I can only be grateful that I have lived all these years happily, with a smile on my face. I haven't had many injuries, I had good games, I scored goals.

"I don't think much about the future. It's hard to leave the club of your life after 15 years. There's a lot of joy, suffering, pain...

"I've given everything for the club. I would do the same thing again. Wearing this shirt is a very nice thing. The future doesn't scare me – it's what I had to do. History is already written. I'm very happy with myself."

As for his next move, Marcelo remains unbothered by going into coaching and was unable to provide an update on his playing future amid talk of a move to Turkey.

"When I have something, if I have something, I'll tell you," he added. "I don't have the capacity to coach – I have other facets that I think I'm better at.

"Tactics for me have always been strange. I've never understood systems. But I really enjoy playing. I don't think I'm a coach, I don't think I'll try."

Marcelo signed off by assuring Los Blancos supporters that the club was in safe hands, adding: "Real Madrid has a very promising future".

Brazil earned a 1-0 friendly win against Japan in Tokyo on Monday thanks to a penalty from Neymar.

Tite's side dominated for large periods in the pouring rain at the New Japan National Stadium and squandered several chances before Neymar's spot-kick finally broke the deadlock in the 77th minute.

The victory means the Selecao have won five consecutive games, and have not lost since July when they were beaten by Argentina in the Copa America final.

Both teams came into the came on the back of big wins last time out, with Japan thumping Paraguay 4-1 on Thursday, while Brazil went one better in beating South Korea 5-1 the same day.

Brazil almost took the lead inside two minutes as neat play between Vinicius Junior and Neymar ended with the latter backheeling to Lucas Paqueta, who hit the post after shooting across Shuichi Gonda in the Japan goal.

Japan had a brief period in the first half where they caused some problems for Tite's side, with Takumi Minamino getting some joy between the lines, but Brazil soon established their dominance as they created more chances.

Casemiro should have put the visitors ahead in the 26th minute but could only guide a header from a Raphinha free-kick over the crossbar, before Neymar had a shot parried away by Gonda and Raphinha bent a direct free-kick just wide of the left-hand post.

Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus were introduced just after the hour and the Arsenal forward almost made an immediate impact, but could only guide his shot wide of the far post after the ball was cushioned down for him by Casemiro.

The hosts' only real chance of note came in the 72nd minute, when Junya Ito fired over with a volley at the far post.

Brazil were awarded a penalty shortly after when another substitute, Richarlison, was fouled by Wataru Endo and Neymar sent Gonda the wrong way from the spot to win it.

Raphinha has not ruled out leaving Leeds United amid reports he is on Barcelona's radar.

The Brazil winger has been a revelation at Elland Road since his move from Rennes in October 2020.

Raphinha was Leeds' leading scorer with 11 goals as they avoided relegation from the Premier League last season, including a crucial penalty in a 2-1 win at Brentford on the final day that kept them in the top flight.

The 25-year-old has two years remaining on his contract with the Yorkshire club, but has been strongly linked with a move to Barca.

Raphinha, who is currently away on international duty, says it is vital he is playing regular football with the World Cup on the horizon but is unsure where he will be at the end of the transfer window.

"I have a contract with Leeds until 2024, so my future is in the hands of Deco and Leeds," he said.

"My mind is on the national team, on the upcoming matches and on my holidays."

Raphinha added: "I have a contract with Leeds and this issue will have to be discussed with my agent. When something happens, he'll tell me.

"Knowing that there are less than six months to the World Cup, you must be playing at the club level. That weighs on my decision, but I'm confident in my abilities.

"Whether I stay or leave, I'm going to give my best, look for opportunities and try and to be ready for the World Cup."

Brazil legend Ronaldo Nazario has revealed he will fulfil a promise to cycle 500km following Real Valladolid's promotion to LaLiga.

The Pucelanos will be playing in the Spanish top-flight next season after finishing second in the Segunda Division.

Ronaldo, who became the club's majority shareholder in 2018, will now make the pilgrimage route from Valladolid to Santiago de Compostela, the culmination of the Camino de Santiago.

"To celebrate Valladolid's automatic promotion, I made a promise a long time ago, even when we were relegated [in 2021]," Ronaldo stated on Twitch.

"I promised that if we came back [to LaLiga], I would do the Camino de Santiago. I will do it by bike as I can't run.

"My wife [Celine] and I will leave from Valladolid on Sunday and travel to Santiago de Compostela by bicycle."

Valladolid secured promotion back to LaLiga at the first time of asking after suffering relegation last season, and Ronaldo believes the achievement is comparable with those in his own playing career.

The former striker fired Brazil to their fifth World Cup success in 2002, winning the Golden Boot in Japan after scoring eight goals at the tournament, including both strikes in their final win over Germany.

He claimed, as reported by El Norte de Castilla, that Valladolid's success was "right there next to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea."

 

Roberto Mancini vowed to start a new era with Italy as the Azzurri look to rediscover their Euro 2020 magic, but warned not to expect instant fixes as he cannot "invent players".

Italy lifted the European Championship last July, their first since 1968, with a penalty shoot-out victory over England at Wembley.

The Azzurri followed that up by failing to make a second straight World Cup, following play-off defeat to North Macedonia in March, which led to questions over coach Mancini's tenure.

Development problems were also cited with the Italian system, which was bemoaned for struggling to produce younger players for the national team with Serie A coaches reluctant to trust the youth.

Italy were 3-0 losers to Argentina in the 'Finalissima' on Wednesday, a meeting between the Euro 2020 winners and Copa America champions, and Mancini promised change after that game.

The former Manchester City coach reiterated his desire for new beginnings with Italy, although he does not expect quick solutions ahead of the Nations League opener at home to Germany on Saturday.

"The victory of the European Championship is part of the magic that are part of those tournaments. Now we have to start again and go back to that magic," he told reporters on Friday.

"I have never had this type of problem. In football, however, when you win everyone is with you and when you lose almost everyone against you. That's how it is.

"Against Argentina we paid for the loss of players, one after the other. We weren't such a huge group and the injuries affected us: Argentina were better than us, they had fresher players and maybe it's the first game in three and a half years where we find a team that has put us under pressure, even if we made two mistakes on goals in the first half.

"It takes time, we cannot invent players and we know that we will have to suffer enough.

"The restart is from now. The new cycle starts again from tomorrow.

"The common thread is the same: looking for players with quality, speed, who they will not be like [Marco] Verratti and Jorginho who played in certain teams and therefore it will take a little longer.

"If we can give some minutes to these guys who have never played in the national team, and see them integrated well, it would be better."

Italy host Germany and Hungary before visiting England on June 11, with a return trip to Hansi Flick's side three days later capping off the internationals for this month.

Mancini believes that England and Germany pose two of the toughest tasks in international football at the moment, and cited Brazil, France and Argentina among the favourites for the World Cup in Qatar.

"We face the two strongest teams at the moment, Germany and England," he added. "They are among the best, they have great players and we take a lot of risks by changing a lot, it could be a good start.

"The most important thing will be to defend well and attack better. We face one of the strongest teams in the world along with Brazil, Argentina, France...

"Germany are technical, very fast when they counter-attack and come to press. They will be among the favourites for the World Cup victory in Qatar.

"We must defend all together and attack and press as we did for three and a half years: we did it for three and a half years with players who didn't seem able to do it, yet they have done."

Brazil coach Tite suggested Neymar has more influence in games for the Selecao than Paris Saint-Germain because at international level the team serves him more.

Neymar was in fine form as Brazil crushed South Korea 5-1 in a friendly on Thursday, with the PSG star scoring two penalties.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg with respect to his performance, as he pulled the strings and proved Brazil's biggest creative outlet.

His eight key passes was more than double the figure recorded by anyone else on the pitch, as South Korea failed to deal with him.

Neymar's showing in Seoul might be seen by some as a departure from his showings for PSG this term, with the Ligue 1 champions apparently willing to let him leave.

Tite thinks he can offer an explanation as to why Neymar may appear more important to Brazil.

"Neymar is a bow and an arrow, depending on the circumstances of the game," Tite told reporters. "He has that ability.

"At PSG, he often plays even a little deeper than Messi and Mbappe. Not here, he's more the arrow.

"He gets more rewards. The team works to give him this clarity, this creativity in this respect. We have a very supportive team."

Thursday's result was an impressive one, with Brazil creating a host of chances against the home side.

One aspect that particularly impressed Tite was their intensity despite having to adjust to the time zone.

"The Brazilian team has been at a [certain] performance level in recent games of ours," he continued.

"Doing this away from home – in a different environment and situation, with our internal clock, with the time zone – is difficult.

"I had to drink a load of coffee, and if you're not in the right frame of mind, it's hard to do that at this level of performance.

"I liked not only those in the starting XI, but also those who came on, even more so with some players coming on later and bringing that level of performance.

"I speak of the 'quick legs'. The more Fabio [Mahseredjian, Brazil fitness coach] puts in, the more the opponent wears out. Brazil had a pattern of performance in recent games."

Brazil will remain in the region for Monday's friendly against Japan in Tokyo.

Neymar scored two penalties as Brazil cruised to an entertaining 5-1 friendly win over South Korea in Seoul on Thursday.

South Korea star Son Heung-min had urged his team-mates to be fearless against the top-ranked side in international football, but they were outclassed for much of the match by Tite's men.

A scrappy Richarlison opener had Brazil in charge as early as the seventh minute and, although the hosts did equalise through Hwang Ui-jo, more Brazil goals were inevitable such was their dominance.

Alex Sandro proved key to getting Brazil back in front as he won two penalties either side of half-time, with Neymar outsmarting the goalkeeper on both occasions to put the game beyond South Korea before substitutes Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus finished off the rout.

Brazil's purposeful start saw Thiago Silva have a goal disallowed for offside inside two minutes, though they did not have to wait much longer to legitimately take the lead as Richarlison deflected Fred's strike into the net.

After wasting several chances in something of an onslaught, the Selecao were pegged back just past the half-hour mark – Hwang held off Silva, spun into the box and shot into the bottom-left corner.

Dominant Brazil were back on top by half-time, though. A VAR review spotted Lee Yong catching Alex Sandro in the box and Neymar coolly converted.

A similar incident occurred 10 minutes into the second half, with Kim Young-Gwon this time culpable, and Neymar ensured the outcome was identical.

Coutinho emphatically found the top-right corner just after replacing Neymar to increase Brazil's handsome lead, before Jesus slotted home at the end of a darting run to round off an impressive day's work for the Selecao.

 

Pele has congratulated fellow Brazilians Vinicius Junior and Marcelo for their contributions to Real Madrid's triumphant Champions League campaign, which he hailed as a "beautiful adventure". 

Vinicius converted Federico Valverde's cross in the 59th minute to fire Madrid to a 1-0 final win over Liverpool at the Stade de France, as Los Blancos were crowned European champions for a 14th time - seven more occasions than any other team.

With his decisive strike, Vinicius became the first Brazilian player to score the winning goal in a Champions League final since Juliano Belletti did so for Barcelona against Arsenal in 2006, also in Paris.

The winger's sixth goal in the Champions League this season, combined with his previous four assists, made him the first South American aged 21 or younger to record 10 goal contributions in a single edition of the competition since Lionel Messi's 14 in 2008-09 (nine goals, five assists).

Meanwhile, Marcelo lifted the trophy as club captain before announcing his departure from Madrid, having made more appearances for Los Blancos than any other non-Spanish player during his 15-year stay at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Writing on Instagram after the final, Brazil great Pele hailed his compatriots for their roles in Madrid's success, also praising man-of-the-match Thibaut Courtois and Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti, who is the first coach to win the Champions League/European Cup four times.

"That's why football is the most beautiful sport in the world. I got to see a dear friend, Vinicius, who overcame so many challenges to decide an epic game," Pele wrote.

"I'm delighted to see Marcelo be the first Brazilian to lift a Champions League trophy as captain. 

"I witnessed an impeccable goalkeeper, Courtois, make inexplicable saves, and a strategist coach, Ancelotti, who knew how to interpret the moment and use the best characteristics of his team. 

"Congratulations Real Madrid. What a beautiful adventure!"

Brazil legend Cafu believes anything other than winning the World Cup in Qatar will be deemed as a failure for the Selecao.

Tite's side breezed through World Cup qualifying as they topped the South American group after going unbeaten through their 17 games, winning 14 and drawing three.

The world's number one ranked side and five-time winners have been labelled by many as favourites to lift the World Cup come December.

Brazil, who boast the likes of Liverpool pair Alisson and Fabinho, along with Paris Saint-Germain duo Neymar and Marquinhos, have been drawn into a group with Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon.

However, the Selecao have not appeared in a World Cup final since 2002, when they won the competition, with the last four editions seeing European teams triumph.

Cafu – the only man to appear in three consecutive finals, winning in 1994, losing in 1998 and captaining in the 2002 win – believes it is time for Brazil to claim a sixth World Cup.

"Every competition that Brazil steps into there is the pressure to win it. They are a huge country in the world with a huge history," Cafu told BBC Sport.

"The pressure to win is always there in any game, not just the World Cup. We have a very good generation of Brazilian footballers coming through so the expectation is there as usual.

"It is about time we won, it is clear if we don't win the World Cup it will be a failure. We all have the expectations and hopes that we can do it."

Gareth Southgate's England must negotiate a group with Iran, the United States and one of either Wales, Scotland or Ukraine.

England are on the opposite side of the draw to Brazil, meaning the two sides cannot meet before the semi-final stage.

Cafu, who is his country's most-capped player after making 142 appearances, suggested a meeting between the two nations would be a dream for Brazilian fans.

"For the Brazilian people it would be considered a dream final because of the historical weight of the two nations in football," he said.

"This match would carry huge emotion and it would be beautiful not only for the fans of England but also for football in general."

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