Mauro Icardi rejected criticism of Romelu Lukaku's performances since joining Inter and expects the Belgium striker to find form for the Nerazzuri.

Lukaku has replaced Icardi at the head of the Inter attack, signing a five-year contract with the Serie A club in a reported €80million transfer from Manchester United in August.

He has scored only three goals in eight appearances but Icardi, who last month left Inter for Paris Saint-Germain in a loan deal that can be made permanent, does not believe Lukaku has endured a poor start to life in Italian football.

"It doesn't seem to me that he's experiencing a moment of difficulty," Icardi told Gazzetta dello Sport. "In fact, I think he's started well, scoring a couple of goals immediately.

"It's not easy for anyone to play in Italy. Serie A is the most defensive championship in Europe.

"Maybe he needs a little more time to settle in, but he's already scored a lot of goals in his career. And he will do it again."

Icardi is not focused on what his future may hold, instead concentrating solely on his form for PSG. The Argentina international has scored two goals in four games for the defending Ligue 1 champions.

"This year, I'm at PSG and my goal is to give my best for this shirt," Icardi added,

"Then at the end of the season, around May or June, we'll see what happens. It's still too early to say anything."

London is still something of a home for Jose Mourinho and another job in the English capital could be on the horizon for the ex-Chelsea manager.

With Tottenham struggling for form and reports of discontent in the dressing room, Mauricio Pochettino's position is far from certain.

Mourinho has been out of a job since he was sacked by Manchester United in December and the Portuguese is reportedly waiting in the wings.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS SOUND OUT MOURINHO

Tottenham have made contact with Jose Mourinho amid uncertainty over manager Mauricio Pochettino, reports SoccerLink.

Pochettino's future in London is up in the air following Tottenham's poor start to the season, highlighted by a humiliating 7-2 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich.

While Pochettino is not facing the sack, Spurs have sounded out Mourinho about whether the former Chelsea and Manchester United boss would be interested.

 

ROUND-UP

- While Spurs target Mourinho, Manchester United appear to be closing in on Massimiliano Allegri. With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer struggling at Old Trafford, the Daily Mail reports ex-Juventus boss Allegri is preparing for the job and wants Patrice Evra to join him in Manchester.

Real Madrid will play the waiting game for Kylian Mbappe as Marca claims the Spanish giants have set a 2021 target date of trying to sign the Paris Saint-Germain star.

- According to Le10Sport, Atletico Madrid will look to sign Paris Saint-Germain veteran Edinson Cavani to a pre-contract agreement in January. Cavani's deal runs out at season's end and the Uruguay striker has been linked to Juventus and incoming MLS franchise Inter Miami.

- ESPN FC says Manchester United are ready to spend during the January transfer window following their poor start to the campaign. United are languishing in 12th after the departures of Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera.

Bayern Munich are tracking Freiburg star Luca Waldschmidt, claims Calciomercato. The 23-year-old forward made his debut for Germany this month.

- According to Tuttosport, AC Milan want €20million-rated Turkey international Mehmet Zeki Celik from Lille. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports the Rossoneri are also interested in a January move for Arsenal's Mohamed Elneny, who is on loan at Besiktas.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel has vowed he will not let Neymar get off lightly following "weeks and weeks" of campaigning for a transfer to Barcelona.

PSG fans were left unimpressed when the club's star forward attempted to engineer a move back to his former employer during the close season.

The Brazilian was booed on his return to action at Parc des Princes in September and only started to mend the rift with a run of four goals in five games leading into the international break.

But winning back favour with fans does not mean the world's most expensive player will be allowed to do as he pleases in what could be his final season in Paris.

"The supporters have expressed their opinions and I can understand them, absolutely," Tuchel told The Guardian.

"It's their right to express themselves. They're proud of their club and it's not so nice when you hear your player talking for weeks and weeks saying he wants to leave.

"As I told Neymar, sometimes it's like this in life – you have to face the truth and deal with the consequences."

German coach Tuchel said: "Sometimes it's a bit hard to see that he is a nice person when you only watch him play from outside. But he is, he's a nice guy.

"I told him: 'You think the hardest part is over, but from now on you have to deal with me and I'm going to push you hard. So the hardest thing is still to come for you.'"

Neymar faces up to a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury sustained while on Brazil duty, so he is set for a short spell out of the spotlight.

The 27-year-old forward's goals have helped edge PSG two points clear after nine games of their bid for a seventh Ligue 1 title in eight seasons.

Asked how he defines success at a club now accustomed to winning domestic titles, Tuchel placed emphasis on forging bonds and the "little rewards" of day-to-day improvement.

"Hopefully I don't depend too much on the points and the titles because the possibility that you get sad or that you don't fulfil your own goals is too high," he said.

"There's more to life than points and trophies but we're all very competitive and we all want to win every game."

Matthijs de Ligt could become the first player to secure the Golden Boy award twice after he was included on a 20-man shortlist for this year's prize.

The honour, established by Italian newspaper Tuttosport and awarded to the best player under the age of 21 in a European top-tier league, lists Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe among its former winners.

De Ligt claimed it in 2018 when on the books of Ajax and is among the nominees for 2019 after continuing to impress with Juventus. He was the first defender to win it.

Manchester City star Phil Foden is also in contention, alongside emerging Barcelona talent Ansu Fati, despite both having been afforded minimal game time.

More established youngsters such as Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho, AC Milan's Gianluigi Donnarumma and Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz are also on the list.

The winner is determined by an international online vote and will be announced in Turin on December 16. 

Full list of Golden Boy nominees: 

Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), Ansu Fati (Barcelona), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal), Erling Braut Haaland (Salzburg), Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid), Dejan Joveljic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Moise Kean (Everton), Lee Kang-in (Valencia), Donyell Malen (PSV), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Andriy Lunin  (Real Valladolid), Rodrygo (Real Madrid), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Ferran Torres (Valencia), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid), Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma)

Neymar is expected to be out for four weeks after the Paris Saint-Germain star suffered a hamstring injury on international duty.

The Brazil forward was withdrawn in the 12th minute of the Selecao's 1-1 friendly draw with Nigeria on Sunday.

PSG announced Neymar had an MRI scan on Monday that confirmed the injury, which will be re-evaluated in eight days.

Neymar has played just five games for PSG this season owing to an ankle injury picked up in June.

The ex-Barcelona forward did not make his first appearance until September, having attempted to force a move away from the club he joined for a world-record €222million fee in 2017.

He was booed by the home fans on his return to the side in a 1-0 victory over Strasbourg, in which he scored a spectacular overhead kick winner.

The 27-year-old has four goals in his five games for Thomas Tuchel's men, who have a two-point lead in Ligue 1 and have two wins from two in the Champions League.

Speaking after the stalemate with the Super Eagles, Brazil coach Tite said Neymar was not a pre-match injury risk.

"It would be irresponsible and incompetent of me [to play him if he was a doubt]," Tite explained.

"I would have to receive the complaints of the coach and the president of PSG if that happened."

Neymar posted an image on his Instagram story of him back in Paris and receiving treatment for the injury.

The length of Neymar's absence means he is likely to miss two Champions League games with Club Brugge and Ligue 1 matches with Nice, Marseille, Dijon and Brest.

In the same announcement, PSG said Kylian Mbappe is “positively following his recovery programme” after missing the game against Angers last time out.

Edinson Cavani, who has been out since August with a hip issue, continues training with the squad.

Julian Draxler (foot) and Colin Dagba (thigh) have returned to training.

Neymar is expected to be out for four weeks after the Paris Saint-Germain star suffered a hamstring injury on international duty.

Brazil coach Tite is adamant Neymar had shown no sign of injury before Sunday's 1-1 friendly draw with Nigeria, in which the forward was withdrawn after 12 minutes due to leg discomfort.

Neymar was named in Brazil's starting XI for the friendly in Singapore but appeared to reach for the back of his left leg as he made an early exit.

He was then seen in conversation with a member of Brazil's staff on the bench, though Neymar did not look to be in significant pain.

Nevertheless, given the injury problems the forward has sustained in the last two years, Tite was asked after the game if he had taken a risk by playing him.

Tite was unequivocal in his response, insisting the Paris Saint-Germain star would not have played had there been any doubt over his fitness.

"No, not at all," Tite replied when asked if Neymar was at risk before the game.

"It would be irresponsible and incompetent of me [to play him if he was a doubt]. I would have to receive the complaints of the coach and the president of PSG if that happened."

With the international break now over for Brazil, Neymar will return to PSG, who are next in action against Nice on Friday.

 

A potential hamstring problem ended Neymar's involvement during the early stages of Brazil's friendly against Nigeria.

The Paris Saint-Germain star did not appear to be in much discomfort but reached for the back of his left leg as he made his way off the pitch after 12 minutes of Sunday's game in Singapore.

He was then seen in conversation with a member of Brazil's staff on the bench at the National Stadium.

Philippe Coutinho replaced the 27-year-old, who won his 100th international cap in Thursday's 1-1 draw with Senegal.

An ankle injury forced Neymar to miss this year's Copa America on home soil and he only returned to action for PSG a month ago, with his reintroduction to the team delayed in part by his widely reported desire to engineer a transfer back to former club Barcelona.

The forward made his first appearance of the season and spectacularly scored the winner in the Ligue 1 victory over Strasbourg on September 14.

Further goals followed against Lyon, Bordeaux and Angers before he headed to Asia to link up with Tite's squad.

Neymar does not have to leave Paris Saint-Germain to fulfil his goal of becoming the world's best player, according to Brazil team-mate Alisson.

The forward was strongly linked with a return to Barcelona during the transfer window, but no move to Camp Nou came to fruition.

Neymar has instead remained in the French capital, scoring four goals in five Ligue 1 games since recovering from a foot injury.

The 27-year-old did not finish in the top 10 for the 2018 Ballon d'Or but, asked if Neymar could become the best player in the world by joining Barcelona, Alisson told Mundo Deportivo: "I think that Neymar can be the best in the world on any team.

"Neymar is a high-level player and would be fundamental in any team in the world. If he returns to Barcelona or not... I wish him good luck and to play with his usual joy and energy, wherever he is."

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi was reportedly pushing for Neymar to be signed by Barca, but he told RAC1 this month he was surprised his former team-mate did not join Real Madrid after it became clear he wanted to leave PSG.

Messi and Alisson met in the Champions League for the second season in a row last term, with the former Roma goalkeeper again coming out on top with a stunning second-leg comeback.

The Argentina captain had struck twice in the first leg to seemingly give Liverpool a mountain to climb but they won 4-0 at Anfield to overturn their deficit, going on to win the tournament by defeating fellow Premier League side Tottenham in the final.

Alisson also got the better of Messi at this year's Copa America, where Brazil beat Argentina 2-0 in the semi-finals before going on to lift the trophy on home soil with a win over Peru.

"The truth is that Messi played very well in the first leg in Barcelona and achieved two goals, but in the return I managed to stop him in some important moments," Alisson added.

"Messi is one of the best players in football history, but I don't think only of duels with him. Both Barcelona and Argentina are two very good teams that have high quality players.

"Luckily, in the last three matches I have been able to overcome him, but the merits are of the whole team: Rome, Liverpool and Brazil."

 

Either through injuries or dips in form, Luis Suarez has started to show signs of regression at Barcelona and they are planning for a future without him.

The Uruguayan striker has been a remarkable player for Barca, but at 32 he is approaching the twilight of his career and the Blaugrana have been considering who they might want to replace him with when the time comes.

Meanwhile, one player recently heavily linked with Barca could be signing a new contract with his current employers.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA DRAW UP STRIKERS SHORTLIST

Barca have significantly strengthened several areas of their team in recent transfer windows, with Antoine Griezmann, Junior Firpo, Frenkie de Jong and Neto bolstering their options.

They are now beginning to turn their attentions to the central striker role, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The publication reports Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe is the ideal target, though Barca are said to be hopeful of getting him on a cut-price deal in 2021 after he has entered the final year of his contract, assuming he does not sign an extension in the meantime.

England and Tottenham striker Harry Kane is also said to be high up their list, despite their being acknowledgement that his wages would be more of an issue than the transfer fee.

The other two reportedly being considered are Marcus Rashford of Manchester United and Inter's Lautaro Martinez.

 

ROUND-UP

Barca missed out on securing the return of Neymar in the most recent transfer window and, according to Gazzetta dello Sport, PSG are now planning to offer the Brazilian a new bumper contract.

- The LaLiga champions are also looking at midfield reinforcements with potential. Napoli's Fabian RuizEduardo Camavinga of Rennes and Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz are all being considered, though Mundo Deportivo say Real Madrid are also tracking the trio with intent.

Christian Eriksen's future has been a hot topic for the last few months, with the Tottenham midfielder's contract ending next year. Sport1 in Germany claim Bayern Munich have already been in touch with him.

Liverpool are hoping to sign Brighton and Hove Albion-owned centre-back Ben White, 21, according to the Sun. The defender is impressing on loan at Leeds United and the Reds see him as a replacement for Dejan Lovren, who is said to be eager for a move to get first-team football.

- Despite languishing 12th in the Premier League after a wretched start to the season, the Daily Mail say Manchester United will not be splashing the cash in the January transfer window.

- But the Daily Express report United have reached a "verbal agreement" with Mario Mandzukic of Juventus, who are said to be demanding £10million for the Croatian forward.

Kylian Mbappe said the faith shown in him by Didier Deschamps was worth "all the money in the world" as he spoke of the strength of his bond with the France coach.

Les Bleus beat Iceland 1-0 without Mbappe on Friday, with the Paris Saint-Germain forward missing the Euro 2020 qualifier due to a hamstring problem, and he will not be available to face Turkey in Paris on Monday.

Mbappe has not played for France since he scored in a 4-0 victory over Andorra in June, but he has been fully committed to Deschamps since the coach picked him during a tricky moment in his career.

Deschamps called Mbappe up to the France squad while he was sidelined at Monaco with his loan move to PSG pending, and the forward has not forgotten it.

Mbappe told TF1: "I think in particular that he selected me while I was not playing anymore - for a player, you don't know how much it means.

"It's a signal... a very strong signal! It is a mark of confidence that is worth all the money in the world.

"I know the coach trusts and believes in me. And once he did that, I felt I could die for him on the pitch ever since. If he told me to play in goal, I would."

Paris Saint-Germain full-back Juan Bernat was surprised Neymar remained with the Ligue 1 giants this season despite strong interest from Barcelona.

Brazil star Neymar was a constant subject of speculation in the previous transfer window, with the forward doing little to hush the rumours of a potential return to Camp Nou.

Barca were said to have offered PSG cash and up to three players – reportedly Ivan Rakitic, Jean-Clair Todibo and Ousmane Dembele – but the deal did not go through, despite the Catalan club reportedly being confident of getting it over the line.

The strained relationship between the two clubs from when Neymar left Barca for PSG for €222million two years earlier was said to have impacted discussions, though Bernat acknowledged he felt the former Santos talent was more likely to leave than stay.

"Yes, it's true that I saw him more [likely] out of the club than in it for everything that was said in the press," Bernat told Marca.

"Until the transfer window closed, anything could've happened.

"It was the best outcome for us [PSG]. He makes a difference with [Kylian] Mbappe. In the first game, as soon as he returned, he scored a goal.

"Then against Lyon he was also decisive. They [Neymar and Mbappe] are a different level.

"They are very skilled players. They carry the ball and make you suffer. Luckily we have them in our team."

Similarly, Mbappe was also linked with a move away from the Parc des Princes, with Real Madrid said to be eager to sign him.

Bernat is not surprised Mbappe attracts such interest, having seen first-hand in training that the 20-year-old is "practically impossible" to stop.

He said: "In a race Mbappe is unstoppable. If he starts [running], you're lost. When he has space, it is very complicated to slow him down.

"With the power he has it is practically impossible. Either you anticipate or there's nothing you can do. He competes very well, and that's what's going to make him very big.

"It [Madrid's interest] is normal, but he is ours and I hope he will always stay with us. He is in a big club."

Neymar signing for Real Madrid was a prospect Lionel Messi feared was about to become a reality.

The Brazil superstar featured in a lethal front three alongside Messi and Luis Suarez at Camp Nou before joining Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222m move two years ago.

Reports of Neymar wishing to return to LaLiga have been frequent since then and an 'MSN' reunion was mooted during the close season.

But with Barcelona unable to put together a package to make the deal happen, Messi worried his old team-mate would end up pulling on the famous white shirt of their sworn rivals.

"I honestly thought that in this market, if he did not come here, he would go to Madrid, because I really thought he wanted to leave," five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi told RAC1.

"He said it, he wanted to change, to leave Paris. I thought that Florentino [Perez, Real Madrid president] and Madrid would do something to take him away."

Barcelona still boast a plethora of elite forward options.

Messi is back to fitness after a calf problem delayed his start to the 2019-20 season, while Suarez came through a period of criticism to score four times in the space of eight days before the international break.

Big-money arrival Antoine Griezmann is still bedding in, although his fellow France international Ousmane Dembele must serve a suspension having been sent off for dissent during the 4-0 victory against Sevilla last time out.

In his report, referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz said Dembele told him he was "very bad, you're very bad" in response to Barca youngster Ronald Araujo being red-carded.

Like coach Ernesto Valverde, Messi was perplexed by the incident – mainly due to Dembele's lack of aptitude with the Spanish language – that means the winger is set to miss El Clasico at Camp Nou later this month.

"It is very difficult for him to be able to say that because it is difficult for him to put together sentences and speak well enough to speak clearly," Messi said.

"The coach supported him at a press conference. The truth is we were surprised that [the referee] understood it so clearly because Ousmane has a hard time speaking Spanish – although he makes himself understood and understands everything.

"It's difficult [to accept the referee] understood it so clearly. That's just the way it is."

Kylian Mbappe has returned to Paris Saint-Germain and will miss France's Euro 2020 qualifiers with Iceland and Turkey due to injury.

The 20-year-old forward returned from a hamstring problem in the 1-0 win over Bordeaux on September 28 but suffered a complication to the treated area, leading him to miss the 4-0 Ligue 1 defeat of Angers prior to the international break.

Mbappe joined up with the France squad but, following medical tests, the French Football Federation (FFF) has confirmed it has allowed the player to leave Didier Deschamps' group.

Borussia Monchengladbach's Alassane Plea has been called up as Mbappe's replacement.

France face Iceland on Friday before meeting Turkey on Monday in Euro 2020 qualifying.

They are second in Group H on 15 points, the same as leaders Turkey.

Mbappe has only managed six appearances for PSG in all competitions this season, scoring twice.

The former Monaco star will attempt to regain fitness in time for PSG's next Ligue 1 match, which is against Nice on October 18.

The relationship between Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and the club's fans is "getting better", according to head coach Thomas Tuchel.

Brazil international Neymar scored his side's fourth goal in their 4-0 Ligue 1 victory over Angers at Parc des Princes on Saturday.

The 27-year-old has four goals in his five league appearances this season, all of which have come since the transfer window closed without him having secured a move away from the club.

Neymar was keen to return to Spain and former club Barcelona, although a transfer never materialised, and has been booed by PSG supporters for a perceived lack of commitment to the Ligue 1 champions.

The attention from the stands led Neymar to admit last month that "it's going to be like playing every game away from home" although he stressed his desire to leave the club was nothing to do with the fanbase.

However, Tuchel thinks his performances are now helping to heal the rift.

"About Neymar, yes, it's getting better, it's easier," he said when asked if he could see some improvement in the relationship.

"I said it's up to us, up to him to show again and again, be decisive, suffer, run to get the ball. It's not necessary to talk.

"He showed a lot of things and tried a lot of dribbles [against Angers]. He scored once again, he could even have scored more goals, but he's still capable of incredible things.

"It's up to him to show it, really, at the end of the day."

Kylian Mbappe missed the match after Tuchel confirmed he had suffered "a reaction between the scar and the nerve" on a hamstring he injured in August.

Tuchel is now waiting to learn whether the forward will be excused international duty over the next two weeks so he can recover.

"I need to ask [sporting director] Leonardo what we're doing with Kylian," he said. "We need to do some treatment. We need to wait for the agreement between the French Football Federation and PSG to know if he goes with the France team."

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