Rumour Has It: PSG won't sell Mbappe, Barca target Neymar could leave

By Sports Desk July 13, 2020

What does the future hold for PSG stars Kylian Mbappe and Neymar?

Real Madrid have made no secret of their admiration for Mbappe, while Barcelona have tried to re-sign Neymar.

As PSG prepare for the 2020-21 campaign, the Ligue 1 holders have made some transfer decisions.

 

TOP STORY – PSG KEEPING MBAPPE, MAKE NEYMAR DECISION

Paris Saint-Germain will not sell Kylian Mbappe ahead of the 2020-21 season but Neymar's future remains uncertain, according to L'Equipe.

Mbappe has been tipped to make the move to Real Madrid in the future, however, Ligue 1 champions PSG have no intention of parting with the France international before next season.

But Neymar – continually linked with a return to Barcelona after leaving in a world-record transfer in 2017 – could leave as PSG look to avoid losing the Brazilian star on a free transfer in 2022.

 

ROUND-UP

Chelsea are preparing their first offer for Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz. Journalist Nicolo Schira reports Chelsea will make a £62million (€70m) bid plus add-ons for Havertz amid interest from Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barca. To fund the transfer, Chelsea will look to sell Inter target Emerson Palmieri, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Jorginho, who would like to reunite with Maurizio Sarri at Juventus.

Luke Shaw could be sacrificed as United look to sign Leicester City's Ben Chilwell, claims the Mirror. United have reportedly leapfrogged Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester City in the race for full-back Chilwell.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are interested in Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante, who has also been linked to Madrid.

Willian has turned down a move to David Beckham's Inter Miami, reports the Telegraph. Willian's Chelsea contract expires at the end of the season and he has been linked to Liverpool, United, Arsenal and Tottenham.

- Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren is wanted by Russian champions Zenit, according to the Evening Standard.

- Calciomercato says Juventus are not the only club eyeing Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo. Jose Mourinho reportedly wants the Italy international at Tottenham, while Madrid and United are also believed to be interested.

- The Express claims Chelsea are stepping up their pursuit of United goalkeeper and Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson. Chelsea are ready to ask Manchester United for a price as Kepa Arrizabalaga struggles in London.

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  • Pirlo urges patience as Juve's Champions League dream hangs by a thread Pirlo urges patience as Juve's Champions League dream hangs by a thread

    Andrea Pirlo wants his Juventus side to be "clever" and "patient" as they seek to overcome a slender deficit against Porto and claim a place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

    Mehdi Taremi and Moussa Marega caught Juve cold at the start of each half at Estadio do Dragao last month.

    Federico Chiesa reduced the arrears late on, although the fact that was the first time Porto had conceded in six Champions League matches underlined the scale of the task still to come in Turin on Tuesday.

    "The result is open, we will have to be clever in knowing how to manage the match to obtain qualification," Pirlo told a pre-match news conference.

    "It is a decisive match for our Champions League campaign."

     "We will have to play a very technical game, because we will face a very compact team, with two very narrow lines and with little space and little time to think.

    "It will take technique and patience."

    Juventus' domestic dominance over the past decade has not translated onto the European stage, with final defeats in 2015 and 2017 to Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively proving tough to take.

    Pirlo made his final Juve appearance as a player in the former showpiece, as goals from Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Neymar saw Barca run out 3-1 winners in Berlin.

    "We know the importance and the beauty of playing in the Champions League," he said.

    "When you can play these games there is a totally different energy, but it must be faced just like all other important games."

    Juventus captain Leonardo Bonucci echoed his boss' sentiments.

    "We must be careful not to get caught up in the desire to score immediately at all costs," he said.

    "We expect a Porto side that will come here to play, not to defend."

    The Serie A champions would be even more up against it had Chiesa not continued an impressive individual season by getting on the scoresheet.

    Italy winger Chiesa has scored nine goals and chipped in with seven assists across all competitions this season.

    His 40 chances created are second only to Alvaro Morata (44) among Juventus' forwards, while his 19.6 per cent shot conversion rate is slightly better than Cristiano Ronaldo's (18.2), even though the five-time Ballon d'Or winner is once again riding high with 27 goals in the 2020-21 campaign.

    "He doesn't allow himself to be influenced by pressure, he is very genuine and spontaneous, and quickly understood what it means to wear this shirt," Bonucci said of the 23-year-old Chiesa. "He's giving us so much."

    Bonucci could be joined in defence by his long-time colleague Giorgio Chiellini, who has recovered from a calf problem to slightly mitigate Mathijis de Ligt's absence due to muscular injuries.

    Pirlo expects Weston McKinnie to be involved despite managing a hip problem, although the USA international will not be fit enough for the entire match.

  • Pochettino: PSG will fight to the death to win the Champions League Pochettino: PSG will fight to the death to win the Champions League

    Paris Saint-Germain will "fight to the death" to win a first-ever Champions League this season, according to head coach Mauricio Pochettino. 

    The Ligue 1 champions go into Wednesday's last-16 second leg against Barcelona at the Parc des Princes well placed to reach the quarter-finals after a thumping 4-1 win over Ronald Koeman's side in the reverse fixture last month., 

    Indeed, no team in the history of the competition has failed to progress from a knockout tie over two legs after winning the first leg by a margin of three goals away from home. 

    They have also scored at least once in each of their last 22 Champions League games at home (61 goals), in a run that dates back to December 2015. The last team to keep a clean sheet away at PSG in the competition was Barca's LaLiga rivals Real Madrid (0-0 in October 2015).

    PSG were beaten in last year's final by Bayern Munich – Kingsley Coman scoring the only goal in a slender win for the Bundesliga side – but Pochettino insisted the painful memories of that defeat will not derail them this term. 

    "Clearly, it is the ambition of the club to win [the competition]," he told the LFP.  

    "There are a lot of other teams who want to win it; it's not that easy. We are aware of our responsibility, and we will fight to the death to achieve it.

    "We are unaffected by the past. We came here with a free spirit and without prejudice. These ideas convey only negativity. 

    "Staying focused on the past limits your future possibilities. We come with new energy. We think that we have the potential to remain in contention in the Champions League. 

    "In football, conviction brings you closer to winning."

    Pochettino was in charge of Barca's city rivals Espanyol between 2009 and 2012, although he said that does not provide him with any extra impetus to knock them out of the competition. 

    "I am not a fan of Espanyol who goes beyond the limits," he added. "Winning in Barcelona has a special flavor.

    "But we want to win for PSG, for our players, for the fans, and finally, for ourselves."

    The French giants eased to a 3-0 victory over Brest in the last 32 of the Coupe de France on Saturday to make it 12 wins, one draw and two defeats in Pochettino's first two months in charge after replacing Thomas Tuchel. 

    The Argentinian is clearly enjoying his time at the helm of a club he played for between 2001 and 2003 and has cited training as the most stimulating aspect of his job.

    "Coming to training every morning, being with the players, the staff, trying to improve, that's what motivates me," he said. "Maybe I even have more motivation to go to the training centre than to be in competition. 

    "Within the staff, we believe a lot in the preparation, the building of a state of form. Motivation, concentration, it is built day by day."

  • Convince Messi, re-establish La Masia, manage financial crisis - Laporta's to-do list as Barcelona's new president Convince Messi, re-establish La Masia, manage financial crisis - Laporta's to-do list as Barcelona's new president

    A new era begins in earnest for Barcelona, with Joan Laporta's second spell as president confirmed on Sunday following his victory in the election.

    Regarded as arguably the most important political event at the club in a generation, much was said to be riding on the collective decision of the socios, or members, who voted.

    Laporta, Toni Freixa and Victor Font had spent months outlining their plans in public, with La Masia, the club's crippling debt and the tumult caused by the previous administration among the main focuses.

    But outsiders can be forgiven for thinking the election essentially boiled down to which candidate stood the best chance of convincing Lionel Messi to stay.

    Laporta's first spell as president, from 2003 to 2010, coincided with Messi's rise from the youth ranks to global star, while he was also in charge when Pep Guardiola was promoted to the top job 2008.

    While nostalgia may have played a strong part in Laporta's ascension, 54 per cent of voters feel he is the best man to navigate a challenging period – but what are the most important tasks facing him?

    Messi – Should he stay, or should he go?

    Laporta stopped short of insisting Messi will definitely stay put under his administration, which was probably wise given he only has a few months left on his contract. Fans would have surely seen through such a promise.

    However, what he did throughout his campaign was emphasise his relationship with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, while also pointing out Messi's lack of familiarity with his rivals.

    "I am the only one who can ensure his continuity. If I don't win, I'm sure Leo won't continue at Barca," Laporta said at last week's debate. "He was not very happy with Freixa's time [Laporta's rival was an ally of the discredited Josep Maria Bartomeu], when they let him see that he was expendable."

    Of course, Messi attempted to force an exit last year, but his refusal to drag the issue through the courts meant Barca managed to keep hold of their prized asset.

    Since then he has insisted his future is tied to the competitiveness of Barca. Laporta's discussions with him will be key, but they could be undermined should Ronald Koeman's men collapse in the latter stages of the season.

    Make La Masia a force again

    For years Barcelona's La Masia academy was the jewel of the club, the inspiration behind many hugely successful teams and the school that developed some of the finest players to play the game.

    Even though a significant portion of the current squad have come through the ranks, La Masia's standing isn't quite what it once was and the likes of Messi, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique are all into their thirties.

    But Laporta emphasised the importance of the academy during his campaign, adamant he would look to restore it to its former glory, previously saying: "It will be our pillar, the backbone of the club's values."

    Nevertheless, with Ansu Fati emerging as a ready-made star and Ilaix Moriba recently establishing himself as one to watch, La Masia's reputation is already receiving a timely boost.

    Sell high-earning fringe players

    Eric Abidal's spell as sporting director was ill-fated, to say the least. A day after sacking Quique Setien in August, the Frenchman was unceremoniously dismissed as well, with his overseeing of transfers making him a contentious figure long before he was eventually shown the door.

    Among his purchases were the likes of Kevin-Prince Boateng, Malcom, Jeison Murillo, Junior Firpo and Antoine Griezmann – it'd be difficult to consider any of those successes.

    Granted, not all of his signings have been poor, with Pedri, Clement Lenglet and Frenkie de Jong brought in under his watch, but over the past few years the club has spent a significant amount of money on sub-standard players or underperforming so-called 'superstars'

    As such, the Barca squad is bloated in terms of its wage expenditure and many of the back-up players are expected to be put up for sale, easing the financial strain and boosting revenues.

    But before Barca can begin outlining transfer plans and a potentially revised recruitment strategy, Laporta needs to do something else…

    Establish a new sporting department

    Laporta is expected to bring his own people in to manage the club's sporting structure, and Jordi Cruyff – of course, the son of Barca icon Johan – is among the frontrunners for the sporting director post.

    Cruyff is still thought to have significant influence and respect inside the club due to his family name, with the former Manchester United player recently affirming to Cadena Ser that he believes his father would have always backed Laporta in an election.

    Mateu Alemany, former Valencia general manager, is also widely reported to be on his way in.

    Alemany had played a major role Valencia's resurgence during the previous decade but left under something of a cloud in November 2019, with the Frenchman and club owner Peter Lim at odds.

    Lim had dismissed popular head coach Marcelino Garcia Toral, of whom Alemany was a staunch backer, and that left the general manager's position looking untenable, particular after local reports claimed he wasn't even consulted about the subsequent appointment of Albert Celades.

    Very little has gone right for Valencia since the exits of Marcelino and Alemany – their reputations, however, have remained firmly intact.

    Strengthen the squad while managing debt

    It's no secret that Barcelona's financial state is a mess – they have amassed €1.2billion in debt and that has unsurprisingly impacted their clout in the transfer market.

    One of Laporta's main messages ahead of the election was that Barca needed a board and president with experience in such a tricky time, and that's certainly something he has in abundance.

    In his first interview since being elected, Laporta stressed the need to make the club financially stable. He told Catalunya Radio: "The first thing will be to do an audit but first I will greet the workers. The club is in mismanagement and now we will finally be able to make the necessary decisions. We will do an audit and apply our shock plan so that Barca is economically sustainable."

    Drastic changes could be on the cards, yet despite the financial state of the club, they will still need to work on improving the squad.

    Juggling the two won't be straightforward, particularly when you add Messi's demand for competitiveness into the mix.

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