Zone Blitz: Are Barcelona doing the right thing by trying to re-sign Neymar?

By George Davis, Mariah Ramharack&Lance Whittaker July 18, 2019

It's said you should never go back to your ex but Barcelona and Neymar could be a re-marriage made in heaven.

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  • Brazil captain Thiago Silva 'proud' to play against Argentina icon Messi Brazil captain Thiago Silva 'proud' to play against Argentina icon Messi

    Brazil captain Thiago Silva is not concerned about coming up against Lionel Messi in Friday's clash with bitter rivals Argentina, rather seeing it as a source of pride to take on the Barcelona superstar.

    Messi is back in the Argentina squad for the first time since the Copa America, where Brazil beat Argentina 2-0 in July's semi-final.

    After that controversial encounter, Messi accused CONMEBOL of corruption, earning a four-match ban and a $50,000 fine.

    Messi is expected to make his return during the friendly clash in Saudi Arabia, and Silva prefers not to look at the situation with fear, instead relishing facing one of the best.

    "We are not concerned but proud to have a chance to face him," Silva told reporters on Monday.

    "They [Argentina] have their star, we won't have ours [Neymar, who is injured], but Brazil is Brazil, and we showed it during our Copa America win.

    "They are living a different moment, as are we when you consider the last few matches. Brazil versus Argentina is always a great game, with great football and scoring chances.

    "There's a 50:50 winning chance for each side - let's hope we are more inspired then than they are."

    Brazil winger Willian added: "He [Messi] is a great player, unmatched, the best in the world. We've faced Argentina when he played before, and this will be just like those times.

    "There must be more attention on him, we must restrict his spaces. We'll not man-mark him, but whoever is around him must close down the spaces, not leave him room to think."

    Real Madrid youngster Rodrygo Goes is in line to earn his first senior cap at the tender age of 18 after breaking into the first team at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    The wide attacker has already scored five goals in just six matches for Madrid, and Silva has been impressed, even suggesting he hopes Zinedine Zidane leaves the teenager out when Paris Saint-Germain take on the LaLiga giants in the Champions League later this month.

    "The fact he's with the Selecao is a unique opportunity, he surely has dreamt about this moment," the PSG defender said of Rodrygo. "I hope he can enjoy it the best way possible.

    "I have over 100 caps and every time I'm here, I feel the chills. I hope he has the wisdom to make the most of it.

    "It's surprising really to most people, an 18-year-old with loads of personality. You see for the way he scores goals how calm and reserved this kid is, he's not doing it to show off.

    "Let's hope Zidane keeps him on the bench! He's a player who'll demand more attention from your side. His quality speaks for itself."

  • Supercopa de Espana's confirmed revamp tees up potential February Clasico in Saudi Arabia Supercopa de Espana's confirmed revamp tees up potential February Clasico in Saudi Arabia

    A new four-team format has been finalised for the Supercopa de Espana that will see the competition moved to Saudi Arabia for the next three years, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has confirmed.

    RFEF president Luis Rubiales revealed a proposal to convert the season curtain-raiser into a mini-tournament in February this year.

    Last season's Supercopa – traditionally a two-legged affair played between the winners of LaLiga and the Copa del Rey – was the first to be played abroad, as Barcelona beat Sevilla 2-1 in Tangier, Morocco, with the singular match officially classed as a friendly.

    But the success of the contest from the RFEF's perspective proved its viability and it is pushing ahead with the plans having struck an agreement for Saudi Arabia to play host over the next three years, starting in February 2020.

    With four teams – the Copa finalists and LaLiga's top two – set to be involved, the RFEF has moved the competition to Spain's winter in order to "lighten the calendar", instead of playing it at the start of the season.

    Following confirmation of the revamp on Monday, the RFEF also revealed the historic first fixtures, with Real Madrid and Barcelona facing Valencia and Atletico Madrid, respectively, in the semi-finals, teeing up a potential Clasico finale on February 12.

    Copa del Rey holders Valencia were particularly vocal in their opposition of the initial plans put forward by the RFEF, while many criticised the governing body for fraternising with a country that has a questionable human rights record.

    But the RFEF has called the deal an "engine for social change" and confirmed women will be allowed "unrestricted access to the matches" and the launch of a women's football competition in the region.

    RFEF believe the internationalisation of the competition will improve its credibility and subsequently boost Spain's bid to host the 2030 World Cup.

    Media reports have claimed the RFEF stands to bring in €40million for every season the Supercopa is hosted in Saudi Arabia. Aside from club prize money, the federation pledges to invest all its entire income from the agreement in amateur football.

  • Rumour Has It: Man United want Ibrahimovic return Rumour Has It: Man United want Ibrahimovic return

    AC Milan, Bologna, Perth Glory, Inter and even Juventus have been linked to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

    Ibrahimovic's LA Galaxy contract is set to expire before the end of the year and the veteran striker is not short of suitors.

    And a return to Old Trafford could be on the cards for the 38-year-old.

     

    TOP STORY – UNITED TARGETING IBRAHIMOVIC

    Manchester United are preparing to make a move for former striker Ibrahimovic, reports Mail Online.

    Ibrahimovic left United for MLS outfit LA Galaxy in 2018 and he has flourished in the United States, where he has scored 53 goals across two seasons.

    But with Ibrahimovic – who has been linked to AC Milan, Bologna and A-League side Perth Glory – coming off contract and United looking to bolster their attacking options following the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, a Manchester comeback has been mooted.

    ROUND-UP

    Inter are set to back Antonio Conte in the January transfer window. Following Conte's outburst over a lack of squad planning after Inter's Champions League defeat to Borussia Dortmund, Calciomercato says the Nerazzurri are ready to sign Parma duo Matteo Darmian and Dejan Kulusevski. Darmian only arrived from Manchester United at the start of the season, while teenage midfielder Kulusevski is on loan from Atalanta.

    - Pressure is mounting on Unai Emery but Arsenal are not worried. According to the Mail, the Gunners will not be panicked into sacking head coach Emery – whose side have gone four league games without a win and sit sixth, eight points outside of the top four. Former Spain and Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has emerged as a possible replacement.

    - Despite Southampton's poor form, the Premier League strugglers are still behind boss Ralph Hasenhuttl according to The Sun. The Saints are 19th and three points adrift of safety amid a seven-match winless streak in the league – highlighted by a record 9-0 humiliation against Leicester City.

    Dries Mertens could be set to leave Napoli. Second on the club's all-time scoring list, Corriere dello Sport and Gazzetta dello Sport claim Mertens has agreed to join Inter as a free agent at the end of the season. The 32-year-old has called Naples home since arriving from PSV in 2013.

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