2019 COPA Preview: Messi looks to lead Argentina to elusive Gold Cup title

By Donald Oilver May 24, 2019

Argentina and Colombia favourites to advance from Group B.

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  • Neymar accepts he's no 'superhero' nor the perfect role model Neymar accepts he's no 'superhero' nor the perfect role model

    Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar acknowledged he is not a "perfect role model" nor a "superhero".

    The Brazil international has spent almost two years with Paris Saint-Germain, but rumours of unhappiness, rocky relationships with team-mates and a lack of commitment have rarely been far away.

    More recently, Neymar failed to report back for pre-season training earlier this month amid speculation he wants to return to Barcelona, while PSG sporting director Leonardo confirmed the forward was available for a transfer if the price is right.

    Neymar further risked the wrath of PSG supporters on Saturday when highlighting Barca's remarkable 2016-17 Champions League turnaround against his current employers as one of his two favourite football memories, though he showed a more vulnerable side at the Red Bull Neymar Jr's Five football tournament in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

    The former Barca man said: "I'm no superhero nor perfect a perfect role model. I also have my bad moments, when I want to go home and hide, to stay with my friends and family.

    "I'm no superhero that handles all the pressure in the world, but I make an effort because I know what I've become, not only to my family and son, but for most of the children that are here.

    "I know I have a huge responsibility and I want to act in the best way possible. Always being honest, that is the most important thing."

    Neymar missed Brazil's successful Copa America campaign due to an ankle injury and he was especially gutted to be absent as that tournament had been his big goal for the year.

    "Being out of Copa America was so bad, I didn't like it," he added. "I don't even like to stay out of training, so you can imagine [what it was like missing] Copa America.

    "That was so important to me and was my focus this year, but I cheered a lot for my colleagues and friends.

    "I was really happy to see them win, even more than if I was playing. Their happiness is mine also."

  • Playing next to him is an incredible joy - Griezmann ready to link with Messi Playing next to him is an incredible joy - Griezmann ready to link with Messi

    Antoine Griezmann feels it will be an "incredible joy" to team up with Lionel Messi after finally completing his move to Barcelona.

    Griezmann signed a five-year deal with Barca on Friday after the LaLiga champions triggered the €120million release clause in his Atletico Madrid contract.

    Atletico have argued Barca owe them €80m more as they claim the Catalan club opened negotiations with Griezmann before his release clause dropped on July 1.

    The row is expected to continue but Griezmann, speaking ahead of his official unveiling, indicated he is keen to get on the pitch with Barca captain Messi.

    "Very happy and looking forward to seeing what Messi is like on a day-to-day basis in training," Griezmann told Barcelona's club website. "Playing next to him is an incredible joy.

    "For me, it's a big club and I hope to help it continue being big - or even get even bigger. I'm really looking forward to working with my new team-mates and with the boss and playing at Camp Nou and hopefully winning a lot of trophies.

    "I like to have fun on the field and off it, in the dressing room. I like to play with joy and I hope to bring a lot of joy to my team-mates and the fans. I hope we have fun together."

    Griezmann will undergo his medical on Sunday before a formal presentation and media conference, with the France forward thrilled to be reuniting with international team-mates Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembele.

    "I'm very happy and very excited, looking forward to working with the squad and meeting my new team-mates, so very happy," he added.

    "A new challenge, new targets. Important things and I hope I can do as well as I can as I have been doing for my club and country.

    "With Sam and Ousmane, I have a very good relationship with both of them. I'm looking forward to seeing them."

  • If Messi wants to play with Martinez, then he goes to Inter - agent If Messi wants to play with Martinez, then he goes to Inter - agent

    Lionel Messi should join Inter if he wants to play with Lautaro Martinez, says the latter's agent.

    Martinez has been linked with Barcelona, although Friday's capture of Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann may end that speculation.

    Messi and Martinez teamed up at the Copa America as Argentina reached the semi-finals before losing to hosts Brazil.

    Beto Yaque, Martinez's representative, previously confirmed Barcelona have shown interest in his client, but the agent said the striker will be staying put at Inter.

    "He can't wait to start with [new Inter head coach Antonio] Conte," Yaque told FC Inter News. "Messi's words? Being praised by the best in the world is beautiful and very satisfying.

    "Lautaro was extremely happy. These words gave him contentment and the desire to work even harder to improve, learn new details and aim to achieve the goals he set himself one day.

    "Lautaro only thinks about Inter. He is happy at Inter and dreams big. Conte called him to tell him how to work, that he relies on him and that he is very happy to have him on the team.

    "It is true that there is interest on the part of the Blaugrana for Martinez. None of the Spanish club has contacted us officially. They are rumours that somehow we know to be truthful. But I repeat: Lautaro remains in Milan.

    "Let's close it with a joke: if Messi wants to play with Martinez, then he goes to Inter. Let's hope. It would be great for the Nerazzurri if that happened!"

    Inter have confirmed former captain Mauro Icardi is free to leave, along with midfielder Radja Nainggolan, with the club reportedly interested in Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku and Roma's Edin Dzeko.

    "What changes if Lukaku and Dzeko arrive? I believe that there must always be healthy competition," Yaque added.

    "Nowhere in the world does anyone have the place bought or insured. I know perfectly well that Inter can negotiate huge level strikers, but I believe blindly in Lautaro's qualities and in what he can give."

    Inter signed Nicolo Barella from Cagliari on Friday, the midfielder joining initially on loan although the club have an obligation to complete a permanent deal potentially worth up to €50million for the Italy international.

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