Mauricio Pochettino revealed Neymar is close to returning for Paris Saint-Germain as he urged critics to respect the team's Champions League win over Barcelona.

The PSG head coach did not specify whether Neymar would come into contention for Sunday's home match against lowly Nantes, who sit 19th in the 20-team Ligue 1 table.

Speaking on Saturday, Pochettino faced questions about the performance of his players in the second leg of their clash with Barcelona, with a string of excellent saves by Keylor Navas, including a penalty stop from Lionel Messi, helping the French side snatch a 1-1 draw.

That clinched a 5-2 aggregate victory, and Pochettino wants to hear more admiration for such a scoreline, given the stature of the opposition.

On the question of when Neymar would return from an injury lay-off that has extended to a month, Pochettino explained: "I think I said there was a chance he'd be back for the Barcelona game.

"We also knew it would be difficult to set a timeframe because players' recoveries can be difficult to predict. He has trained with the squad today, we are pleased with his progress, and we hope he will be back with the team soon."

But Pochettino was probed over how PSG allowed Barcelona to be so dominant for large parts of the second leg of their European tie, particularly the first half, and he was not happy for his team's achievement to be followed by such interrogation.

"I don't understand why we should be so focused on that," Pochettino said.

"That was the story of the first half of the second leg against Barcelona when we didn't play well. That is the reality. But focusing too much on that in my opinion would be a mistake.

"Of course we analyse everything that happens during games but we mustn't forget the team have reached the quarter-finals after beating a strong Barcelona side, and overall it finished 5-2 after 180 minutes. That is the reality.

"There have been games where we played well and lost, such as the game against Monaco [which PSG lost 2-0 last month], and other games where we haven't performed so well.

"The most important thing is to learn and we do have to improve because none of us were happy with the first half, but after achieving such a big target I think our performance in the first half can be downplayed."

With third-placed Lyon only drawing against Reims on Friday, PSG remain in the thick of a title battle, with leaders Lille having a tricky clash with Monaco on Sunday.

PSG sit second as they chase a fourth successive league title, and they cannot afford to slip up against a Nantes side who are equally in need of points.

"Yes, it will be a tough game for us," Pochettino said. "I wouldn't say it would be a trap, but we are aware that after such a happy night for the club and the fans, with us getting through in the Champions League, it is in our minds that the next game is important. That is the theory, but we know it's an important game and we have to put that into practice.

"Preparation is essential in football. We often say we are ready, but Nantes are a physical side who will make things difficult, just as Monaco did after we played Barcelona [in the first leg], but that is why our performance level is essential and we have to be fresh.

"I will try to select a team that can really battle with Nantes and have that freshness that can give us the energy that we need in this sort of game."

A second coming for Cristiano Ronaldo in the Spanish capital?

After a trophy-laden spell with Real Madrid, Ronaldo made the switch to Juventus.

But Madrid's all-time leading goalscorer is reportedly keen on a second stint at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO EYEING MADRID REUNION

Cristiano Ronaldo wants to return to Real Madrid, according to the frontpage of Saturday's Diario AS.

Ronaldo's future with Juventus has been placed in doubt following the club's Champions League last-16 exit.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who left Madrid for Juve in 2018, has reportedly been in contact with Los Blancos for months.

 

ROUND-UP

- New Barcelona president Joan Laporta will offer superstar captain Lionel Messi a fresh contract in the coming weeks, reports Mundo Deportivo. The deal would include Messi – heavily tipped to join either Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City as a free agent at the end of the season – becoming a club ambassador after retirement. Laporta is also set to push ahead with moves for Bayern Munich's David Alaba, Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and City forward Sergio Aguero.

City lead the race to sign Haaland, according to the Daily Mail. Haaland is a player in demand, linked with Manchester United, Chelsea, LiverpoolJuve, PSG, Barca and Madrid.

Joao Felix is also an option at the Etihad Stadium. Cuatro claims the Atletico Madrid star is a target if Aguero leaves City.

- Le10Sport claims PSG remain in talks with Neymar over a four-year contract extension. A deal is believed to be some way off.

Harry Maguire wants United to sign an English-speaking defender, reports The Transfer Window Podcast. The Red Devils have been linked with Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and team-mate Raphael Varane, Sevilla's Jules Kounde, RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate and Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly. But Brighton and Hove Albion's Ben White has emerged as a target.

- TMW Radio says Atletico could be set to make a move for Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz. The Spain international has been previously linked with Barca and Madrid.

Angel Di Maria has signed a new one-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain.

The Argentina international, 33, has agreed to a new deal that will keep him at the club until the end of next season, with the option of an additional year.

Di Maria has won 16 trophies with PSG since signing from Manchester United in 2015 for a fee in the region of €63million.

In 248 games in all competitions, the midfielder has scored 86 times and provided 99 assists, the second-highest figure in the club's history behind Safet Susic on 103.

Speaking last month, sporting director Leonardo confirmed Di Maria was one of four key contract extensions PSG were keen to complete.

As well as high-profile talks over new deals for Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, Les Parisiens are also eager for Juan Bernat to sign a new deal.

"On Kylian Mbappe's contract, we've been talking for a long time," Leonardo told France Bleu.

"Before, it was mainly to be clear about our position and what we want. I think we are getting to the point where we must take a position and a decision. We have a good open dialogue.

"It's on the right track [with Neymar], but in the end he decides when to sign and it is not yet the case. We are on the same page, I think; same for Di Maria and Bernat.

"These are the four issues we are discussing. The idea is to get there as quickly as possible, because on our side, we have the intention to renew all four."
 
Di Maria has made 27 appearances in all competitions this season, providing four goals and 10 assists.

He is PSG's fourth-most productive player in terms of direct goal involvements in 2020-21, behind Moise Kean (16), Neymar (17) and Kylian Mbappe (35).

Angel Di Maria has signed a new one-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain.

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos insisted it would be easier for the LaLiga champions to sign Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland instead of Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe.

Mbappe has long been tipped to swap Ligue 1 titleholders PSG for Madrid, but Dortmund sensation Haaland has emerged as a serious option for the Spanish powerhouse.

Haaland is a player in demand – linked with the likes of Barcelona, PSG, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Juventus – following his exploits for Dortmund in the Bundesliga and Champions League.

Ramos feels Haaland is a more realistic option for Madrid due to the financial situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, while PSG still try to re-sign Mbappe.

"I would like them both to come, but if one of them were to come, it would be easier to sign Haaland," Ramos, who is facing an uncertain future as he is yet to sign a contract extension with Madrid, told Ibai Llanos on Twitch.

"With Mbappe the economic circumstances are more difficult. Haaland wouldn't be bad because of his hunger for goals, his size, his speed... It would be easier to reach an agreement for Haaland."

Haaland became the quickest player to 20 Champions League goals after reaching the milestone in his 14th game in the competition as Dortmund drew 2-2 with Sevilla on Tuesday but advanced 5-4 on aggregate.

Aged 20 years and 231 days, Haaland also became the youngest player to score in six consecutive Champions League matches, while he is the first player in the history of the competition to score at least two goals in four consecutive appearances.

Mbappe also made Champions League history on Wednesday after PSG eliminated Barcelona in the last 16.

The PSG forward claimed Lionel Messi's record as the youngest player to reach 25 goals in the competition, aged 22 years and 80 days. 

Meanwhile, the future of Messi has dominated headlines as the Barca superstar continues to be linked with PSG and City.

Messi is out of contract at the end of the season, and Ramos is cheekily prepared to welcome the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to the Santiago Bernabeu in a controversial move.

"I would be delighted to welcome Messi [to Real Madrid]," Ramos said with a smile as he dismissed the idea of leaving Madrid for bitter rivals Barca. "I'll make my house available to him for the first few weeks.

"We had to suffer Leo in his best years, so the fact of not having to face him would be good.

"He would help us win and achieve more success. It would be silly to say otherwise."

Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti "can't say" the Serie A leaders want Lionel Messi as he believes the Barcelona superstar will remain at Camp Nou.

Messi's future has dominated headlines, with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner tipped to join Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain or Premier League leaders Manchester City on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Inter have also emerged as a possible destination for Messi, who tried to leave embattled LaLiga giants Barca ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

Argentina and Inter great Zanetti, though, feels his 33-year-old countryman will continue playing for Barca beyond this season.

"We can't say that, he is a Barcelona player and he's spent the whole career there. I think he will continue there," Zanetti told ONTime Sports.

"We are focused on the group of players we have. We must be focused on ourselves, we are focused on the next game. Everyone is doing very well."

Asked to compare Messi to legendary football Diego Maradona – who died in November – Zanetti added: "I can't make comparisons, they are both great champions.

"It's always good when big players move to Serie A. When Cristiano Ronaldo arrived, it was good for the league."

Messi has scored a league-high 19 goals and supplied six assists in 24 LaLiga appearances for Ronald Koeman's second-placed Barca this season, and 25 across all competitions.

Barca are six points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid ahead of Monday's match against Huesca.

Messi has been involved in five goals in two games against Huesca in LaLiga (two goals and three assists), including two goals and two assists in his only league appearance against them at Camp Nou.

Barcelona have gone 16 games without losing in LaLiga (W13 D3) – the best current unbeaten streak of any team in the five major leagues in Europe.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is out of contract at the end of the season, so where will he be playing in 2021-22?

The Milan and Italy goalkeeper – still in discussions with the Rossoneri – has attracted interest from across Europe.

Manchester United and Chelsea are reportedly circling.

 

TOP STORY – DONNARUMMA WANTED IN ENGLAND

Manchester United and Chelsea are considering signing Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma as a free agent, according to The Transfer Window podcast.

Donnarumma is out of contract at the end of the season, though Tuttosport reports he and Milan remain in contract discussions.

Serie A champions Juventus and Ligue 1 titleholders Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked.

Sky Sports says United are also targeting Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak amid doubts over David de Gea's future.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail claims United, Liverpool and Bayern Munich are eyeing Chelsea's Christian Pulisic. The United States international has found himself out of favour under new manager Thomas Tuchel at Stamford Bridge.

- The wish list of new Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been revealed. Sport reports aside from Manchester City defender Eric Garcia and Lyon captain Memphis Depay, Laporta is also targeting Sergio Aguero and Bayern star David Alaba, as well as in-demand Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

Arsenal want to sign Inter full-back Achraf Hakimi as a replacement for Hector Bellerin, according to the Telegraph. Bellerin has been linked to PSG and Barca.

- Sport Bild reports Bundesliga champions Bayern will let veteran defender Jerome Boateng leave amid his links with Chelsea.

Rivaldo believes Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos would be a good signing for bitter LaLiga rivals Barcelona.

Ramos is out of contract at the end of the season and the superstar defender is yet to agree a new contract with the LaLiga champions.

The 34-year-old Spain skipper has been linked to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus.

Rivaldo, who won two LaLiga titles among other honours during his time with Barca, backed Ramos for a controversial move to Camp Nou.

"A player has to be professional, and if you have good offers, I don't think it's okay to hear them," former Brazil international Rivaldo told Betfair.

"Of course, Sergio Ramos would be a good signing for Barcelona. It would be historic and it would be controversial because of Sergio Ramos' history with Real Madrid."

Ramos has called Madrid home since joining from Sevilla in 2005, winning five LaLiga trophies, four Champions League titles, as many Club World Cup crowns and three UEFA Super Cup medals among 22 major honours at the Santiago Bernabeu.

There is also speculation over Lionel Messi's future, with the Barca skipper tipped to leave the Catalan powerhouse on a free transfer at season's end.

Messi – a record six-time Ballon d'Or winner – has been heavily linked with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Premier League leaders City.

"If I were [PSG head coach Mauricio] Pochettino, I would tell the owner of PSG that we'd better stay the way we are before bringing in Messi," Rivaldo said. "I like Messi, but [Kylian] Mbappe is at home and there would also be everyone in their team.

"It is difficult to talk about a change from Messi to Mbappe, because football is money and if Messi goes to PSG, he will have many economic benefits. But of course, Messi is already more than 30 years old and in PSG there is already Mbappe with 22 years. It is difficult.

"PSG, I repeat, I think they do not need any signings because they have a great team… but football is also a business."

Barcelona prospect  Ilaix Moriba could be tempted away from the Catalan giants.

Ilaix, 18, made headlines with a goal in his third LaLiga appearance for the Blaugrana on Saturday.

But Barca have limited wage capacity and Ilaix has received "several offers".

 

TOP STORY – SEVERAL OFFERS FOR BARCA TEENAGER

Teenager Moriba has become instant hot property with "several offers" to tempt him away from Barcelona, according to Marca.

The Guinea-born midfielder's agent, whom he shares with Gareth Bale, is in drawn-out discussions with the club, the publication says.

Marca's report does not identify who the potential suitors are, but if Ilaix continues a breakout season, the interest will inevitably grow, giving the player and his representatives more bargaining power.

Manchester United were earlier this week linked with the youngster in Mundo Deportivo.

Matthijs de Ligt was linked with Manchester United before his move to Juventus in 2019.

United have reportedly renewed their interest in the 21-year-old Dutch defender.

Could he end up in Manchester?

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WANT DE LIGT

Manchester United are set to target Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, according to TodoFichajes.

United were heavily linked with De Ligt before the Netherlands international swapped Ajax for Serie A champions Juve in 2019.

With United reportedly not advancing in their pursuit of Real Madrid pair Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, the Red Devils are eyeing De Ligt.

United have also been linked with RB Leipzig's Ibrahima Konate, Sevilla defender Jules Kounde and Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Paris Saint-Germain are poised to offer David Alaba a €25million-per year deal in an attempt to prise the Bayern Munich star to the French capital. Out of contract at season's end, Alaba has been tipped to join Madrid. Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester City have also been linked.

United have been left alone in the fight to sign Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, claims TodoFichajes. Unwilling to match Villa's valuation, City have reportedly exited the race for Grealish. The report also says United could sell Marcus Rashford to fund the move.

- Madrid stars Lucas Vazquez and Isco are wanted by Everton, according to Calciomercato. After prising James Rodriguez from the LaLiga champions, Everton are targeting another two players from the Spanish capital, though Milan and Juve are also keen.

- Diario AS reports Madrid are prioritising a move for in-demand Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland. Chelsea, United, City, Juve, PSG, Barca and Bayern have all been linked but Madrid are reportedly shifting their attention from Kylian Mbappe to Haaland.

French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain are plotting an ambitious move for Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.

PSG, headed up by ex-Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, are keen to replace 34-year-old Keylor Navas.

De Gea has been with United since 2011 and has two years remaining on his contract.

 

TOP STORY – PSG TO TEMPT UNITED

Mega-rich PSG would be able to offer United a significant fee for the 30-year-old De Gea and match his £375,000-a-week wages, according to The Sun.

United have been linked with a move for Milan's Gianluigi Donnarumma, who is coming off contract, while Dean Henderson has pushed De Gea this season to be number one.

PSG have also been linked with Tottenham custodian Hugo Lloris given his connection with Pochettino from their time together at Spurs.

ROUND-UP

- AS reports that Liverpool could enter the race for Kylian Mbappe, due to the alleged rift between forward Mohamed Salah and manager Jurgen Klopp.

- West Ham have turned to Stuttgart's Sasa Kalajdzic in their search for a striker, according to the Daily Mail. In the queue already are RB Leipzig and Roma.

- Limited funds means Barcelona are out of the race for Wolves' Adama Traore, according to Mundo Deportivo. The Spain international has been linked with Liverpool and Manchester City.

- UOL Esporte reports that Manchester United have registered an interest in Leeds United winger Raphinha.

Kylian Mbappe scored twice and Pablo Sarabia was also on target as Paris Saint-Germain saw off fellow Ligue 1 side Brest 3-0 to book their place in the last 16 of the Coupe de France.

The holders were given a tough time of things in their 1-0 win against Caen in the previous round but made light work of Saturday's clash at Stade Francis-Le Ble.

Sarabia fired in his sixth goal of the campaign shortly before half-time after Mbappe had opened the scoring inside nine minutes with an impressive solo strike that saw him carry the ball half the length of the field.

Mbappe doubled his personal tally for the day with an unorthodox chested finish to ensure comfortable passage through for PSG, who made it three wins in a row heading into Wednesday's Champions League last-16 second leg with Barcelona.

Mbappe also scored a brace in last week's comfortable Ligue 1 win at Dijon and picked up from where he left off with the opener against opponents positioned 13th in the French top flight.

The France international received the ball just inside the opposition half, carried it to the edge of the penalty area and picked out the top-left corner with a thunderous strike that left Sebastien Cibois rooted to the spot.

Mbappe was denied a second by the inside of the post when played in by Marco Verratti but PSG, who survived a penalty scare after Romain Philippoteaux went down under contact from Abdou Diallo and Mitchel Bakker, soon had a second goal.

Julian Draxler took the ball past a couple of opponents and teed up Sarabia to fire away from Cibois, adding to the goal he scored against Brest in PSG's 3-0 league win when the sides last met in January.

Cibois denied Mbappe from a one-on-one early in the second half and that sparked Brest into life, with Bandiougou Fadiga testing Sergio Rico with a couple of attempts in the space of a minute, the second requiring Ander Herrera to block the ball on the line.

But the hosts' hopes of a comeback were ended 17 minutes from time as Verratti's pass ricocheted off the chest of Mbappe and trickled in from a few yards out.

Will Kalidou Koulibaly leave Serie A's Napoli?

Koulibaly is one of Europe's finest defenders and the 29-year-old has attracted interest from across Europe.

Bayern Munich are reportedly eyeing the Senegal international.

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN FRONTRUNNERS FOR NAPOLI STAR

Bayern Munich are leading the race to sign Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, according to Il Mattino.

Koulibaly has long been linked with a move away from Napoli, though the club's valuation has deterred suitors.

But Koulibaly's asking price has reportedly dropped to €45million (£39m), alerting Bayern, as well as Manchester United and Liverpool.

Bild, however, claims Bundesliga champions Bayern have not made an offer for the Napoli star.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bild reports Manchester City are favourites to sign Erling Haaland if Borussia Dortmund sanction an off-season exit. Haaland has been linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Liverpool, ChelseaUnited and Bayern.

- As City target Haaland, Sport Mediaset says Serie A champions Juve are considering a move for veteran forward Sergio Aguero. The Argentina international is out of contract at season's end.

Barca have been offered Bayer Leverkusen star Edmond Tapsoba, claims Sport. Tapsoba is valued at around €40m.

- Wolves are open to selling Adama Traore at a reduced price, according to the Daily Mail. Barca, Liverpool and City have been linked with Traore previously.

- The Sun reports United are considering the sale of star goalkeeper David de Gea. It comes as Dean Henderson expects to become number one next season. The Transfer Window podcast, meanwhile, says United are seeking a new number one amid links to Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Chelsea remain interested in RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate, according to Bild. Konate is not short of admirers, linked to the likes of United and Arsenal.

United have not contacted Eintracht Frankfurt's Andre Silva as an alternative to Haaland, claims Bild.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is attracting interest from across Europe.

Donnarumma's Milan contract expires at season's end and the star goalkeeper is yet to commit.

Premier League giants Chelsea are reportedly ready to prise the Italy international to London.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA LAUNCH DONNARUMMA BID

Chelsea are ready to make a move for Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, according to Libero Quotidiano.

Donnarumma's contract expires at the end of the season and Premier League giants Chelsea are set to submit an offer worth £9million (€10.5m) per season, despite already boasting the world's most expensive goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and Edouard Mendy.

The Italy international has also been linked with the likes of Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sky reports teenage sensation Jamal Musiala has signed a long-term contract extension with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. The new deal is reportedly worth €5m per year and will tie him to Bayern until 2026.

Manchester City have joined the race for Atalanta star Robin Gosens, according to Virgilio. Gosens has had interest from Serie A rivals Inter and Juventus but Atalanta are understood to want €40m (£34m) for his services.

- The Daily Mail says Leicester City are planning for Jamie Vardy's long-term replacement by targeting a £15m move for Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard.

- Santiago Arias is being circled by EvertonRoma and PSG this off-season, according to Kicker. Arias is currently on loan at Bayer Leverkusen from Atletico Madrid.

- InterLive claims Inter are keen on Juve goalkeeper Mattia Perin, who is currently on loan at Genoa, and may use Matias Vecino in exchange. The Nerazzurri are looking for goalkeeper cover for Samir Handanovic.

Erling Haaland continues to dominate headlines.

The Borussia Dortmund sensation is one of the most sought-after players in Europe.

Manchester City and Real Madrid are reportedly going head-to-head to sign the Norwegian.

 

TOP STORY – AGUERO OUT, HAALAND IN?

Manchester City want to sign Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland as a replacement for veteran forward Sergio Aguero, according to Bild.

Aguero, who has been hampered by injury this season, is out of contract at the end of the current campaign.

Haaland is a player in demand, having been linked to Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich.

But Haaland dominates the front pages of Thursday's Marca, Diario AS and Mundo Deportivo in Spain amid Madrid's interest.

The Norway international reportedly wants to listen to Madrid, who will need €150million to prise Haaland to the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Lyon star Houssem Aouar remains on the radar of Juventus. Aouar has previously been linked with the Serie A champions, as well as Arsenal.

Chelsea are interested in Monaco's defensive midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, claims ESPN.

- O Jogo says Liverpool could reignite their interest in Sporting CP defender Nuno Mendes. Juve, Madrid and Milan have also been tracking the 18-year-old, who has a £60m (€70m) release clause.

Edinson Cavani is open to extending his United contract, according to Fabrizio Romano. Cavani joined United as a free agent on a one-year deal at the start of the season. The former PSG star has been linked with Boca Juniors.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.