Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar is "not a leader" and must make football his top priority as Brazil eye success, according to former Manchester United full-back Rafael da Silva.

Neymar – the world's most expensive player following his €222million move to PSG in 2017 – continues to make headlines amid speculation over a possible return to LaLiga champions Barcelona.

The Brazil forward's antics on and off the pitch, highlighted by his mocking of Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland during last month's Champions League last-16 triumph, have also made headlines.

Rafael – now playing for Ligue 1 rivals Lyon – teamed up with Neymar during the 2012 Olympic Games and believes the 28-year-old can lead Brazil to glory, if he listens.

Brazil were one of the favourites to win the 2018 World Cup but crashed out in the quarter-finals before claiming last year's Copa America in the absence of Neymar due to an ankle injury.

"We need Neymar, that's for sure," Rafael told ESPN. "We need him a lot. He needs to improve a lot of things outside the pitch. It's important for a footballer.

"He needs to improve a lot outside the pitch to come inside the pitch and do his best. I hope he can do that and if he does we have a big chance to win.

"Neymar is not a leader. I don't think he's a leader. It's not him. He can do the things he does because if he is good, if he's focused and concentrated, he is the best player in the world."

Rafael added: "Football has to the first option of your life. He has so many things around him. He thinks in his mind 'I don't need to do that' to play well but you need to.

"There are a lot of things you need to do. If he does that and someone can put this in his mind -- I know him and I've played with him -- I know he's hard guy to listen to orders. It's not good with him.

"I say the truth but sometimes people don't want to listen to the truth. They want you to say 'you are good, you are magic' they want you to say all the good stuff but life is not like that.

"I think he needs to listen more and if he does that it will be hard to stop Brazil."

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly eager to extend Kylian Mbappe's contract, while Inter are still doing their all to keep Lautaro Martinez.

Mbappe has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid despite being contracted at PSG until 2022.

Madrid's rivals, Barcelona, meanwhile, want Martinez, but they are facing their own challenges.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE EXTENSION A PRIORITY FOR PSG AS TENSIONS RISE

Despite the coronavirus pandemic impacting clubs financially, PSG are prioritising a lucrative new deal for Mbappe, according to ESPN.

Mbappe, 21, is a reported target for Real Madrid, whose interest seemingly remains.

AS reports PSG are prepared to lose Mbappe on a free in 2022 rather than selling him to Madrid before then.

 

ROUND-UP

- It remains to be seen whether Martinez will head to Barcelona. The cover of Sport says Inter are responding to Barca's interest by offering the forward an attractive new contract, although the LaLiga club are preparing their "final assault".

- Barcelona could have other plans should they not be able to land Martinez. Mundo Deportivo reports RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner, who has been linked with Liverpool, remains a serious back-up option for Barca.

- Seeking support for Casemiro, Real Madrid are apparently considering a move for Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga. The cover of Marca says Madrid could pay €60million for the 17-year-old.

- Arthur is linked with a move away from Barcelona. Tottenham and Inter will chase the midfielder, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- Inter Miami have been eyeing a big-name signing. Goal reports owner David Beckham has been in contact with Real Madrid regarding potentially signing James Rodriguez.

- Loris Karius could be heading back to Liverpool. The Telegraph reports the goalkeeper is close to mutually agreeing a termination of his loan at Turkish club Besiktas and returning to Anfield.

Kylian Mbappe is worth €300million and would likely have joined Real Madrid this year but for the coronavirus pandemic, according to an agent who has worked regularly with the LaLiga club.

France star Mbappe has regularly been linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu despite only joining Paris Saint-Germain from Monaco in 2018.

Initially signed on loan, the striker made the switch to Parc des Princes permanently for €180m a year later, making him the second most expensive signing in history behind €222m team-mate Neymar.

The 21-year-old is said to be one of Madrid's prime transfer targets, although PSG are thought to be keen to keep him in Ligue 1 for as long as possible, with his contract expiring in 2022.

Yvan Le Mee, who has brokered deals for Madrid signings such as Ferland Mendy and Julien Faubert, thinks a move to the Spanish capital was on the cards before COVID-19 brought the football season to a halt.

Now, be believes such a deal will not take place until after the European Championship, which has been moved to 2021.

"Mbappe, in a normal context, without this horrible virus or the economic problem that's coming, we could think he was going to sign for Madrid this summer," Le Mee told Marca.

"It doesn't seem as though he's going to renew and he has two years left on his contract. But with all this, it seems impossible that a club is going to spend now what Mbappe costs. Because if Neymar is worth 222million, Kylian is worth 300million, because he is younger and just as good, incredible.

"He's going to be the best striker in the world and I think he's going to want to play for the best club in the world, which is Madrid, and for one of his idols to coach him, which is [Zinedine] Zidane.

"Plus, today, there is no great competition in Madrid's attack. That's where they have a greater demand. They have a great like [Karim] Benzema, but he is going into the last years of his career.

"Today, there is more competition in PSG's attack than in Madrid's and I'm sure he'd find his place without any problem.

"This year, there won't be any big transfers because they are not going to do crazy things, and I think it will come after the Euros."

Left-back Mendy joined Madrid last June in a deal worth an initial €48m, having impressed for Lyon in Ligue 1.

However, Le Mee says the move had looked in doubt until Zidane made it clear he was desperate for the signing to be completed.

"It was a very difficult transfer because Lyon didn't want to sell," he said. "They wanted him for another year, and Madrid didn't want to pay 48million [euros] plus the five [million] in bonuses.

"Negotiations lasted for months, and they already had many players in that position.

"[Chief scout Juni] Calafat and [general director] Jose Angel Sanchez did an exceptional job in the negotiations. Zidane wanted the player at all costs and, despite the problems, he never gave up and that's super important because there are times when the coach gets tired of waiting and the club changes its mind.

"Ferland also had Juve, Napoli and Inter [interested], but Madrid were Madrid, and there was no problem with him. He had a poster of Zidane in his room as a child."

Manchester United continue to be linked with a number of players, even during the football shutdown due to coronavirus.

Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho, Tottenham star Harry Kane and Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish.

Atletico Madrid sensation Joao Felix is the latest name on the list.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED EYE JOAO FELIX

Manchester United are interested in signing Atletico Madrid star Joao Felix, according to Le10 Sport.

Joao Felix swapped Benfica for Atletico in a big-money deal at the start of the 2019-20 season, having been linked to United.

United reportedly remain interested in Joao Felix and want the 20-year-old Portuguese attacker to follow in the footsteps of Red Devils great Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could Zinedine Zidane be set for a return to Juventus? Le10 Sport claims the Serie A giants want the Real Madrid head coach to replace Juve boss Maurizio Sarri for the 2020-21 season. Zidane spent five years as a player in Turin, where the Frenchman won two Serie A trophies among other titles before moving to Madrid in 2001.

Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Madrid and Juve are monitoring Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, says Corriere dello Sport. Donnarumma is out of contract in 2021 and the Italy international goalkeeper is no closer to signing a new deal.

- Calciomercato reports Inter are working on extending Marcelo Brozovic's contract amid interest from Premier League leaders and Champions League holders Liverpool.

- United midfielder Paul Pogba remains Juve's number one target but the Bianconeri are ready to make a move for Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic if a deal does not materialise, says Calciomercato.

Arsenal, Milan and Leicester City are chasing Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer, claims journalist Nicolo Schira.

- According to journalist Alfredo Pedulla, Sarri wants to reunite with Chelsea star Jorginho at Juve. Sarri and Jorginho both joined Chelsea from Napoli in 2018-19. Now the Juve boss is interested in signing the midfielder again.

Samuel Umtiti does not want to leave Barcelona, SPORT reports. The French defender has previously been linked to United and Arsenal.

David Alaba is not a top target for Madrid but the LaLiga giants continue to monitor the Bayern Munich full-back, says Marca.

After months and months of speculation, Jadon Sancho's future could be resolved.

The 20-year-old attacker has been tipped to return to England, having left Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund in 2017.

And City's neighbours are reportedly set to snap up the in-demand sensation.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED THINK THEY'VE WON SANCHO RACE

Borussia Dortmund's Sancho to Manchester United is a done deal, according to The Sun.

England star Sancho has been heavily linked to United, as well as Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid following his exploits for Dortmund.

However, United believe they have won the race for Sancho after months of secret talks, with just an agreement of a fee with Dortmund remaining.

ROUND-UP

- Sport reports Paris Saint-Germain are ready to offer Neymar a salary worth €38million if he stays at the Ligue 1 champions amid links to former club Barcelona.

Sandro Tonali is a real target for Milan, claims Calciomercato. The Brescia star has attracted interest from Serie A champions Juventus, Inter, PSG, Manchester City and others. But Tonali is Milan's big transfer goal as the Rossoneri board tries to rebuild around the 19-year-old.

Mauro Icardi to Napoli and Arkadiusz Milik to Juve? FCInterNews.it says Napoli are back in the hunt to sign Icardi, who is on loan at PSG from Inter. The Argentina forward has been heavily linked to Juve but he could join Napoli if Milik moves to Turin. The front page of Tuttosport also claims Federico Bernardeschi leaving Juve for Napoli could be the key in Milik's future.

Inter are interested in signing RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner if Lautaro Martinez swaps the Nerazzurri for Barca, reports Calciomercato. Liverpool and Bayern Munich have also been linked to Werner.

- AS Diario says Real Madrid are ready to sell Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez. Colombian midfielder James has been linked to United and Juve. Madrid are also prepared to part with Lucas Vazquez, Mariano Diaz, Alvaro Odriozola and Nacho Fernandez.

Arsenal and United have set their sights on Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele, according to Sport. Dembele has struggled for form and fitness at Camp Nou and the Frenchman has reportedly asked Anthony Martial about playing for United.

Antoine Griezmann is seemingly not ready to accept that his Barcelona career could be over.

The LaLiga giants have been heavily linked with moves for Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and Inter forward Lautaro Martinez.

It had been reported Griezmann could head to San Siro as part of a deal, but the France international will not move so easily.

 

TOP STORY – GRIEZMANN READY TO FIGHT NEYMAR, MARTINEZ FOR BARCELONA PLACE

Griezmann is prepared to battle for his future at Barcelona despite links to Neymar and Martinez, according to Marca.

The former Atletico Madrid star had scored 14 goals in 37 games this season before the campaign was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But, the 29-year-old forward is ready to fight for a spot even if Martinez and Neymar arrive in the close season.

ROUND-UP

- A player that seems certain to leave Barcelona is Philippe Coutinho, who is on loan at Bayern Munich this season. Goal reports the LaLiga giants are still aiming to sell the playmaker and are hoping for a suitor in the Premier League.

- Staying at Camp Nou, Arturo Vidal has been linked heavily with a move to Inter. However, Mundo Deportivo reports Manchester United and Newcastle United are also interested in the midfielder. Apparently, Newcastle would be the frontrunners if the Premier League club manage to appoint Massimiliano Allegri, who coached Vidal at Juventus.

- Could Arsenal and Atletico Madrid be prepared for a swap deal? The Sun reports Arsenal are ready to offer Alexandre Lacazette to the LaLiga club to seal a deal for midfielder Thomas Partey. Also with Arsenal, the Mirror says the Premier League side have asked Valencia about Rodrigo Moreno, with Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang potentially leaving.

- Out of contract in 2022, Marc-Andre ter Stegen appeared set to earn a new deal at Barcelona. However, AS reports the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic is set to make a renewal for the goalkeeper – linked with Juventus and Bayern Munich – a lot harder.

- Perhaps Thiago Silva will remain at Paris Saint-Germain. Le 10 Sport reports the Ligue 1 giants are offering the defender – whose deal expires at the end of the season – a one-year contract.

- In the first year of a two-season loan deal at AC Milan, Ante Rebic has netted seven times. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A side are keen to make the Eintracht Frankfurt forward's move permanent soon, before his asking price rises further.

Former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell said he would "without a doubt" sign Neymar again at the LaLiga giants.

Rosell was Barca president when Neymar was signed by the club from Santos in 2013 before the Brazil international starred across four seasons in Spain.

The forward left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record €222million in August 2017, although he has been linked with a return regularly since.

Rosell said he would not hesitate to bring the 28-year-old back to the Camp Nou.

"I would sign Neymar, without a doubt," he told Mundo Deportivo.

Neymar scored 105 goals for Barcelona during his four seasons at the club, while he had netted 18 in 22 for PSG before this campaign was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel is using the prolonged break from football to enjoy some reading and meditation.

Tuchel was last on the touchline four and a half weeks ago when PSG overcame a first-leg deficit to defeat his former club Borussia Dortmund 2-0 and reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

That game at Parc des Princes took place behind closed doors as a precaution against COVID-19 and the pandemic soon brought the shutters down on football globally.

"It's a long break, but we have to be disciplined and respect the situation," Tuchel told PSG's official website.

"We have a responsibility. I try to stay in the present, it's a big challenge, to stay calm and meditate. I sleep and read a lot. I'm taking advantage of some down-time."

Tuchel has also been watching re-runs of PSG games, citing the Dortmund matches and clashes with Marseille and Saint-Etienne, although he knows this is not an optimum time to spring new tactical theories on his squad.

"We talk a lot with each other, with the staff, we prepare individual programmes for the players, recommendations," he explained.

"I send messages to the players with their programme and I get their news, but not too much. I let them be a bit.

"What's difficult is that we don't know when it [the lockdown] will finish. If we knew when it was going to finish, we could start talking about tactics, attitude... but right now, no one knows when it's going to finish."

Tuchel added: "There are more important things than football. Of course, we wish for all of Europe and the world to be healthy.

"I hope we can restart playing in order to distract all those people who have to stay at home, sometimes in difficult situations, who are afraid for their family. Football is a good escape.

"We have to stay strong and not lose faith. It's important to smile, to stay calm. It's not easy, but it's possible."

Lautaro Martinez has been tipped to leave Inter at the end of the coronavirus-interrupted 2019-20 season.

His exploits in Italy have reportedly alerted Barcelona, who are determined to sign a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

And Martinez is apparently ready to swap the San Siro for Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – MARTINEZ WANTS BARCA MOVE

Inter star Lautaro Martinez has chosen to join Barcelona and will press for a move if necessary, according to Marca.

While Barcelona remain interested in re-signing Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar, Martinez is the club's primary transfer objective.

Real Madrid and Manchester City have also been linked to Martinez, but the former have turned their attention to Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, while the latter are reportedly happy with Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could another star leave Inter? Premier League leaders and Champions League holders Liverpool want to sign Marcelo Brozovic, claims Calciomercato. The Nerazzurri could be tempted by a €60million (£52m) offer.

- Calciomercarto reports Juventus and PSG are in discussions over Mauro Icardi. The Argentina forward is on loan at PSG from Inter, with the Ligue 1 champions having the option to sign Icardi permanently. Icardi has been tipped to return to Serie A and the story claims PSG could sign the Argentinian from Inter before selling him straight to Juve. A possible deal could involve the likes of Mattia De Sciglio, Miralem Pjanic, Douglas Costa and Alex Sandro.

- The Telegraph says Ajax have placed a €40m (£35m) price tag on goalkeeper Andre Onana, who has been linked to Chelsea, PSG and Barca.

Jadon Sancho will only move to Old Trafford if Manchester United secure Champions League football, says the Athletic. The Dortmund sensation has also been linked to Chelsea, Liverpool, former club City and Madrid.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter have a list of potential replacements for Barca target Martinez. RB Leipzig's Timo Werner is the first name on the list, which also includes Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, United forward Anthony Martial, Madrid striker Luka Jovic and Victor Osimhen of Lille.

Neymar returning to Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain is possible, according to former vice-president Emili Rousaud.

Neymar swapped Barca for Ligue 1 holders PSG in a world-record €222million transfer in 2017 but the Brazilian superstar has been regularly linked with a Camp Nou comeback.

The 28-year-old forward spent four years at Barca, where he won two LaLiga titles and the Champions League among other honours.

Rousaud believes Neymar could make his way back to Barca due to the coronavirus pandemic and the financial impact of COVID-19.

"Neymar coming back is possible," Rousaud told L'Equipe.

"The coronavirus is going to provoke deflation in the transfer market and the majority of clubs will have financial problems. 

"Barcelona will have to analyse if the operation is within the club's finances. The interest is real, but it's complicated. There are three parties involved: Barca, PSG and the player. 

"If the three look for an agreement, they will find the solution: payment in instalments, for example. It all depends on the will of each party and especially on the demands of Neymar." 

Neymar has been tipped to make the move to Barcelona, almost three years since his world-record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

Lionel Messi and Co. have spoken glowingly about their former team-mate amid the speculation.

But reports claim a Barca reunion is not on the cards.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA DISMISS NEYMAR RETURN

Barcelona have ruled out re-signing Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain, according to Catalunya Radio.

Neymar – who swapped Barca for PSG in a world-record €222million transfer in 2017 – has been repeatedly linked with a Camp Nou comeback.

But the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic reportedly mean Barca are not in a position to bring Neymar back to the club at the end of the coronavirus-hit 2019-20 campaign.

 

ROUND-UP

Borussia Dortmund or Manchester United? Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham is hot property following his exploits for the Championship outfit prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Both clubs are vying for Bellingham, however, the Daily Mail says Dortmund are hopeful of beating United to the 16-year-old's signature.

- The Daily Mail claims Tottenham have asked former manager Mauricio Pochettino to take a pay cut. Pochettino is on gardening leave following his sacking and Spurs are looking to reduce costs amid the COVID-19 crisis.

- Staying in London and Tottenham are seriously interested in signing Inter centre-back Diego Godin, reports Mundo Deportivo. The 34-year-old Uruguayan has struggled to fit into Antonio Conte's plans, having only arrived from Atletico Madrid at the start of the 2019-20 campaign. United have also been linked.

Gianluigi Buffon is poised to sign a new deal with Serie A champions Juventus, according to Calciomercato. The only thing missing is the 42-year-old goalkeeper's signature.

Everton are interested in Torino star Andrea Belotti, says Tuttosport. The Italy international has also been linked to United and Napoli.

- Marca claims Eder Militao will remain at Real Madrid, having been reassured that he will not be sold by the Spanish giants.

- Agent Mino Raiola would prefer to send United midfielder Paul Pogba to either PSG or Juventus instead of Madrid, according to Soccer Link.

Former Barcelona star Javier Mascherano hopes Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar returns to the LaLiga champions to play alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Neymar swapped Barca for PSG in a world-record €222million transfer in 2017 but the Brazilian superstar has been regularly linked with a Camp Nou comeback.

The 28-year-old forward spent four years at Barca, where he won two LaLiga titles and the Champions League among other honours.

Mascherano was team-mates with Neymar when Barca claimed the 2014-15 Champions League trophy via a 3-1 win over Juventus in Berlin and the ex-Argentina captain reflected on that successful night at Olympiastadion.

"The other day, I watched the final in Berlin again and what the three up front created was impressive, Neymar, Suarez and Messi," Mascherano told RAC1.

"Each of them had a position in the team, the pressure after losing the ball and control.

"They added a lethal edge to our play. I hope Ney returns to Barcelona and they play together. It would be so nice for the club and the fans."

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien was unwilling to choose between Neymar and Lautaro Martinez, saying it would be good to have both.

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and Inter forward Martinez have been linked with moves to the LaLiga giants.

Neymar only left Barca for PSG less than three years ago, while Martinez has starred for Inter this season.

But, asked who would be better for Barca, Setien told El Larguero on Thursday: "Both of them, because they are good players."

Neymar made a €222million move to PSG from Barcelona in 2017, but has regularly been linked with a return.

Setien, whose team were top of LaLiga when the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, said it would be tough to bring the Brazil international back to Camp Nou.

"All the great players, how can I not like them?" he said.

"Neymar is one of them, but as things are, you have to consider what is possible and what is not possible.

"We know that these footballers cost a lot of money and that it is not easy to bring them."

Collar up. A series of tiny steps. A paradinha – a little stop. The goalkeeper drops to his right. Neymar passes the penalty into the opposite corner.

Just two minutes had passed and Santos were off the mark and en route to an 8-1 thrashing of Guarani in the first leg of a Copa do Brasil last-16 tie.

Neymar and his team-mates rushed to the corner and celebrated by donning caps and pretending to rap in an homage to Santos fan and musician Mano Brown.

Dorival Junior's team would go on to score another seven, and Neymar would finish with a personal best of five.

At that point, it was undeniable that a world-beating talent had emerged at Santos.

Party time

April 14, 2010 provided Santos with so many reasons to celebrate.

It marked the club's 98th birthday and legendary figures Pepe, Edu and Clodoaldo were in attendance at the Vila Belmiro to enjoy the occasion.

Left-back Leo wore the number 98 on his shirt, while on-loan Manchester City attacker Robinho sported 200 to reflect the number of times he had put on a Santos jersey for a competitive fixture.

Despite such landmarks there was only one subject of conversation at the final whistle: Neymar.

The birth of a goalscorer

The wiry youth operating from the left wing had only turned 18 two months prior, but 2010 was to be the year Neymar entered the global consciousness.

After scoring 13 goals in his first season with the senior team, he had already surpassed that total when Guarani arrived on the coast of the state of Sao Paulo. He ended the year with 42 in all competitions.

Breaking through alongside mercurial playmaker Ganso and poacher Andre, the trio of promising academy products were dubbed as the third generation of Meninos da Vila – a moniker that was bestowed upon Juary, Pita and Joao Paulo in 1978, then Robinho, Diego and Elano in 2002.

Although Neymar's mid-penalty dummy was soon outlawed, he used it to great effect to open the scoring after Cleber Goiano only managed to stop a trademark surge from deep by dynamic midfielder Arouca with a desperate lunge inside the box.

Racing clear

Neymar may have ended the game with five goals but he could so easily have had more.

His end product was not as fine-tuned as it would go on to become. He dribbled into dead ends and misplaced crosses from the left as Dorival became increasingly frustrated with his team's inability to increase their lead despite dominating possession.

Although their relationship would end in acrimony with an on-field falling out resulting in Neymar being dropped and Dorival getting the sack in response, the player heeded his coach's demands on this occasion. An attempted throughball rebounded back off a defender and Neymar fired it across goal and into the bottom-right corner in the 29th minute.

By dummying Ganso's incisive pass and leaving it for Robinho, Neymar helped Santos extend their lead further two minutes later. His hat-trick was completed when another magnificent Ganso pass was squared to him at the back post by Arouca.

The result was already beyond doubt but Neymar made Santos' task even easier when he dragged the ball back and flicked it behind his standing leg to Robinho, with Cleber's challenge claiming nothing but player for a second yellow card on the stroke of half-time.

No letting up

He may have failed to guide a header home from Wesley's cross within two minutes of the restart, but Neymar beat Fabinho Junior and drew a foul to win a penalty that Marcel slammed in after 56 minutes.

Juliano pushed a blistering effort from Neymar at the end of a sweeping move past the post, only to see Santos manoeuvre the resulting corner to Marquinhos in the middle. His chip into the box was looped beyond the stranded Guarani goalkeeper by the head of Robinho before the hour.

There was one moment of revelry for the Guarani players, though, when Moreno drilled a stunning 25-yard free-kick into the top-right corner in the 73rd minute.

Five star

However, there was to be no upstaging Neymar.

He controlled Robinho's low cross from the left expertly and delicately flicked beyond Juliano with a quick second touch.

Neymar then rounded off a formidable attack to cap an incredible individual and collective display. Madson sprinted down the left, sent the ball inside for Robinho, whose first touch rolled straight into the path of Neymar for a low effort inside the near post.

A dejected Juliano said after the match: "I'd never conceded eight before, but Santos have to be congratulated."

The aftermath

The secret was well and truly out.

In the book 'My Story - Conversations with my Father', Neymar's dad said: "It was one of Juninho's best matches. He scored five times! It felt like the good old days, when Pele played for Santos. Except that now it was the Santos of Neymar Jr and his friends."

His form showed no sign of abating and 14,000 people signed a petition for Neymar to be selected for Brazil's 2010 World Cup squad, while Pele, Romario and Ronaldo were among the footballing heavyweights to get behind the idea. Unsurprisingly, Selecao boss Dunga took no notice.

"The lobbying that is done for certain players to get in the national team never made me nervous or frustrated," Dunga said after leaving Neymar, Ganso, Ronaldinho and Adriano out.

Chelsea did not doubt that Neymar was ready for a move to Europe, but their advances in August 2010 were turned down by a player keen on securing legendary status at Santos.

He unquestionably achieved that. O Peixe won the Copa do Brasil and the Campeonato Paulista that year, with two more state championships following before Neymar departed for Barcelona. There was also success in the 2011 Copa Libertadores and the 2012 Recopa Sudamericana.

It was a memorable, decorated spell for Neymar and Santos, and his five-goal haul against Guarani was one of the first moments it all looked truly possible.

Liverpool are reportedly looking at Kylian Mbappe in case they lose Sadio Mane to Real Madrid.

Mane has developed into one of the world's best players at Liverpool, leading to apparent interest from Madrid.

But the Premier League leaders are considering a huge signing if the Senegal international does head to the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL CONSIDER MBAPPE IF MANE JOINS REAL MADRID

Madrid are determined to sign Mane and Liverpool are targeting at Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappe as a replacement, according to The Sun.

The report says Mane is not pushing for a move away from Anfield and the Reds are keen to see off Madrid.

Mbappe, 21, has been linked with Los Blancos previously, but perhaps Liverpool could land the France international.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Madrid and the Daily Star reports Manchester United are facing a battle with Los Blancos for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, who has been heavily rumoured to be destined for Old Trafford.

- It remains to be seen how Madrid can strengthen their attack this close season. Amid the Spanish club's links to Dortmund forward Erling Haaland, Bild claims the Norway international's opt-out clause at the Bundesliga club does not come into effect until 2022.

- Inter are already negotiating with Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal, according to Sport. It reports Barca are open to letting the Chile international leave and want to include him in a deal for Lautaro Martinez but Inter are refusing that as it stands.

- Staying at Camp Nou and Barcelona are ready to keep Ousmane Dembele, according to Marca. The attacker has been touted for a move away from LaLiga's champions but is seemingly attracting little interest due to his recent injury struggles.

- Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana is reportedly being eyed by PSG and Barcelona, but Premier League clubs are also considering him. The Mirror reports Chelsea and Tottenham are tracking the Cameroon international.

- Out of contract at the end of the season, Dries Mertens appears likely to leave Napoli. CalcioMercato says Inter are keen to sign the Belgium forward.

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