Ousmane Dembele "doesn't feel at all threatened" by the possibility of Neymar going back to Barcelona, the forward's agent has said.

Speculation persists over Neymar's future at Paris Saint-Germain, with the latest reports saying Barca have had a bid of a two-year loan with an option to buy rejected by the Ligue 1 champions.

Should the Brazil star secure a return to Camp Nou, though, it is likely to leave Dembele's position in the first team unclear, with the France international struggling for consistency and fitness since his move from Borussia Dortmund for an initial €105million in 2017.

However, his representative, Moussa Sissoko, says Neymar's future will have no impact on Dembele's determination to succeed with the Spanish champions.

"When you are a high-level sportsman, you have to accept that you are praised but also subjected to criticism," he told RMC Sport. "[Dembele] is focused on his goals, and he knows what he has to do in order to succeed at Barca.

"He doesn't feel at all threatened. When you play for Barca, you expect there to be competition. Neymar or anyone else - he does not care about that and [only] cares about what he has to do."

Sissoko says there has been interest in Dembele but that all those clubs, PSG included, have been told the player has no desire for a transfer.

"We received notice of interest from big clubs," he said. "But we were clear on the fact that he did not want to leave. I told them from the start that he wants to succeed at Barcelona. The door is closed, and Paris or any other club are aware of our intentions.

"In our plans, he wants to stay and all his work is towards that. We are working on that."

Dembele was diagnosed with a hamstring injury this week that is likely to keep him out for over a month, furthering suggestions his lifestyle is hampering his fitness and professional development.

His former chef told Le Parisien on Wednesday: "Ousmane is a good guy but he doesn't have control of his life. He lives with his uncle and his best friend, who don't dare say anything to him. It's a crazy life.

"I've never seen him drink alcohol but he doesn't respect his rest times, there's no professional structure around him."

However, when asked about those comments, Sissoko said: "I do not want to give an advertisement to the chef who criticised him. Ousmane chose him, and it's me who stopped working with him, because he didn't correspond to what we wanted."

Lionel Messi returned to full training with Barcelona on Wednesday as he nears a comeback from a calf injury.

The 32-year-old missed the whole of Barca's pre-season programme and was not part of their squad for the 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao on the opening day of the LaLiga season.

Messi – whose last competitive outing was for Argentina in the Copa America third-place play-off victory over Chile, a match in which he was controversially sent off – has been doing solo exercises to build up his fitness and sat out the LaLiga champions' first training session on Wednesday but was pictured with the rest of his team-mates later in the day.

Barca head coach Ernesto Valverde may now consider the Argentina international for selection against Real Betis on Sunday, with Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez already ruled out.

Dembele will miss the next five weeks with a hamstring injury and Suarez is out for an indefinite period after injuring his right calf in the shock defeat to Athletic.

Wissam Ben Yedder is determined to help Monaco qualify for European football again after taking the "hard" decision to leave Sevilla.

The France forward signed a five-year contract with the Ligue 1 side last week as part of a deal that saw Rony Lopes move in the opposite direction.

After scoring 38 LaLiga goals during his three seasons with Sevilla, the former Toulouse player had been linked with a move to Spanish champions Barcelona and also Premier League side Manchester United during the close season.

Ben Yedder has instead returned to French football with Monaco – and he is not concerned about last season's successful battle to avoid relegation, insisting Monaco's struggles were an "anomaly".

"It was hard to leave Seville," he said at a press conference on Wednesday. "There was a lot of emotion, a lot of things happened in Spain for me. 

"But with the vice-president, [Oleg] Petrov, we exchanged a lot about the project. Monaco wants to be at the top of the table. Monaco is my choice. 

"We don't know what would have happened if I had stayed in Spain. There were many clubs that were interested in me. I chose Monaco and I am satisfied.

"It's a big club, although the situation is difficult at the moment. But during the last five seasons, there was a Champions League quarter-final and a semi-final. 

"We will make sure that what happened last season is just an anomaly. We will do everything to reach the European competitions."

Ben Yedder's arrival at Stade Louis II was expected to pave the way for Radamel Falcao to leave, with Galatasaray heavily linked with the Colombia international.

However, Petrov wants Falcao to stay put and see out the rest of his contract.

"Falcao told us that he wants to play in the Champions League, but we want him to stay in the team," Petrov said. "Falcao is a very good professional. He has to respect his contract with us."

Ben Yedder led Monaco's attack in Falcao's absence against Metz last weekend but was unable to prevent his new employers slipping to a second successive defeat at the start of the new season.

Rather than replace him, Ben Yedder hopes to get the chance to play alongside the 33-year-old.

"I will be glad if Falcao stays," he said. "Falcao is an extraordinary player and if he stays we will try to do everything to be at the top of the table, scoring as many goals as possible. 

"I learned a lot from the Spanish league and it's very important for me to continue and improve."

Monaco are reported to have paid €40million to trigger Ben Yedder's buyout clause, offset by receiving €20m for Lopes in a separate deal.

Islam Slimani became the French side's latest signing of a busy window on Wednesday, following on from the arrivals of Gelson Martins, Benjamin Lecomte, Henry Onyekuru, Ruben Aguilar and Ben Yedder.

Barcelona are officially making a move for Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain are set to reject their offer.

The Neymar saga is seemingly no closer to ending as the Brazil star looks to leave the Ligue 1 champions before the transfer window closes on September 2.

Barca are set to at least make a bid as they aim to get a deal done for their former star, but it will be rejected.

 

TOP STORY – PSG TO REJECT BARCELONA'S LOAN BID FOR NEYMAR

PSG have no interest in initially loaning Neymar to Barcelona, according to Le Parisien.

It was reported the bid from LaLiga's champions would be for a temporary move, but PSG want an outright transfer so they can find a replacement for the forward, amid reported interest in Juventus playmaker Paulo Dybala.

Barcelona are willing to accept a purchase option if €160million can be paid in instalments, according to Sport.

Meanwhile, the cover of Marca says Neymar is entering "Zone Florentino", referencing Real Madrid president Perez as Barca's rivals maintain hope of signing the 27-year-old.

ROUND-UP

- There could be plenty of movement at Barcelona late in the window. Juventus are discussing a potential swap deal to land Ivan Rakitic and see Emre Can head to Camp Nou, according to Tuttosport, which says the Catalans also put Luis Suarez on the table.

- One midfielder not leaving Turin is Blaise Matuidi. RMC Sport reports the France international will stay at Juventus amid links to PSG and Bayern Munich, with Can seemingly more likely to depart the Serie A champions.

- Mariano Diaz's future is uncertain. AS claims Mariano is not in Real Madrid's plans for this season, but no club has come close to meeting a €20m valuation of the forward.

- Franck Ribery is set to become a Fiorentina player. The former Bayern Munich star has agreed to a deal with the Serie A club, according to Sport Bild and Gianluca Di Marzio, with the Frenchman set to sign on Thursday.

- Amid reported interest from Manchester City and Manchester United, Jadon Sancho is said to be re-signing with Borussia Dortmund. The 19-year-old England international has sealed a £190,000-per-week long-term deal with Dortmund, according to the Daily Mail.

- Michy Batshuayi is not ready to give up on his Chelsea career. The Belgium striker wants to stay and fight for a place in Frank Lampard's team, according to the Evening Standard.

Ousmane Dembele is certain to remain with Barcelona despite interest from elsewhere, according to his agent.

Dembele, 22, has been linked with a move away from the LaLiga champions amid reports he could be included in a deal that would see Barca sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

However, the France attacker's agent, Moussa Sissoko, said Dembele would stay at Barcelona.

"Evolving in a club as prestigious and ambitious as FC Barcelona involves a competition that will advance and sublimate any player," Sissoko said in a widely reported statement on Tuesday.

"In any case, it is the point of view rooted in Ousmane's mind. He is Barcelona and he will remain 1,000 per cent with the firm desire to honour the colours of the club."

Dembele is set to miss five weeks for Barcelona – who suffered a 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao on Friday – after straining his left hamstring.

Injuries hampered Dembele's first season at the club after a €105million move from Borussia Dortmund in August 2017, while he scored 14 goals in 42 games in 2018-19.

However, Dembele is still hungry to deliver for Barcelona despite his injury woes, his agent said.

"I wanted to clarify firmly and definitively the situation of Ousmane Dembele. He does not plan to leave FC Barcelona for a moment," Sissoko said.

"This is the course of action fixed for several months now and no element is or will be likely to cause us to deviate. Ousmane feels perfectly well within the club and he remains in his determination to impose himself in the long term.

"Despite the solicitations of several great European clubs, Ousmane is convinced to be in the heart of the largest of them and everything is there to make it flourish.

"Ousmane is aware of what he has to do on a daily basis to make his Barcelona adventure a complete success. Unfortunately, his injury temporarily stops him in his motivation to make a great and beautiful season, symbolised by its anticipated recovery of a week.

"But this has no impact on his thirst for success and he is confident to return as soon as possible."

Brahim Diaz is set for another spell on the sidelines after suffering an abdominal injury, Real Madrid have confirmed.

The 20-year-old forward only returned to training last week having missed the bulk of pre-season due to a hamstring problem.

A timeframe has not been placed on Diaz's recovery.

A club statement read: "Following the tests carried out today on our player, Brahim Diaz, by the Real Madrid medical department, he has been diagnosed with a muscular injury to his right anterior rectus.

"His recovery will continue to be assessed."

Diaz joined Madrid from Manchester City for an initial €17million in January and started four of their final five LaLiga games last season, scoring his maiden goal in a 3-1 defeat at Real Sociedad.

This bout of fitness problems has proved particularly untimely, denying Diaz the chance to press his claims amid the arrivals of Luka Jovic, Rodrygo and Eden Hazard – although the latter two have also been hit with injury setbacks.

Neymar continues to dominate the headlines and Barcelona look set to finally get serious in a move for the Paris Saint-Germain star.

The Brazil international, 27, has been linked with a move from PSG, but progress has seemingly been slow amid links to Barca and Real Madrid.

It appears Juventus are now ready to join the race, too, as Barcelona prepare to submit an offer.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA TO SUBMIT NEYMAR BID

Barcelona have decided to submit a formal offer to PSG for Neymar, according to RAC1.

The cover of Sport reads 'Offer Offical' as Barcelona continue their pursuit of the star they sold to PSG for €222million two years ago.

They say Barca are hoping to get a deal done and have an option to buy Neymar next season.

 

ROUND-UP

- There may yet be a bit to play out in the Neymar saga. AS report Juventus have opened talks with PSG and are keen to sign the Brazil star, willing to offer Neymar the €37m per year net he currently makes at PSG.

- Paulo Dybala could be part of a Juventus move for Neymar. Dybala was reportedly close to a Premier League switch earlier this month and is valued at €80m and a target for PSG, according to Sport and the Daily Mail, giving the Ligue 1 champions an ideal replacement for Neymar.

- Christian Eriksen's Tottenham future remains unclear. However, ESPN FC report the Denmark international is only interested in moving to Barcelona, Real Madrid or Juventus if he leaves Tottenham.

- As Barcelona try to find a deal for Neymar, Nelson Semedo has been one of the players mentioned as part of a potential package. However, Marca report the defender does not want to go to PSG and Barca are aware.

- Roma are still trying to strengthen their defence and Arsenal's Shkodran Mustafi has emerged as a target, according to TuttoMercatoWeb. The Serie A giants would consider an initial loan move for the defender.

- Franck Ribery could be close to making a decision on his future. According to Fabrizio Romano, the former Bayern Munich star is in advanced talks with Fiorentina.

Ousmane Dembele is facing a spell on the sidelines after suffering another hamstring injury, Barcelona have confirmed.

The LaLiga champions expect to be without Dembele for around five weeks.

"A medical examination on Ousmane Dembele has diagnosed a strain of his left hamstring," a club statement read. 

"The Frenchman is set to be out for approximately five weeks as a result."

Dembele, 22, completed 90 minutes as Barca began their title defence with a 1-0 loss at Athletic Bilbao last Friday but has suffered wretched luck with injuries since moving to Camp Nou from Borussia Dortmund in 2017.

The €105million winger sat out most of the first half of his debut campaign in Catalonia due to a serious hamstring injury and this is now the fourth time he has been ruled out by a similar complaint.

Barcelona were without Lionel Messi against Athletic as the superstar forward steps up his recovery form a calf problem, while Dembele's compatriot Antoine Griezmann drew a blank on his Blaugrana debut.

Ernesto Valverde's side entertain Real Betis in the league this weekend.

Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic lead the names nominated for FIFA's Puskas Award, given to the scorer of the best goal of the season.

A panel of FIFA and external football experts selected 10 goals to put to a public vote, with the efforts ranging from the sublime to the outrageous.

Barcelona icon Messi is nominated for the fourth time in five years, while three female players are included after there were none up for the award last year.

All goals selected for consideration were scored between July 16, 2018 and July 19, 2019, and we have the low down on each one, with voting open until September 2…

 

Matheus Cunha (RB Leipzig) v Bayern Leverkusen – April 6, 2019

Brazilian midfield Cunha dazzled the Leverkusen defence in April's 4-2 win as he latched on to a pass in from the left, beat a defender with a pirouette and then found the net with a sumptuous chip.

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy) v Toronto – September 15, 2018

Ibrahimovic has always been synonymous with the extravagant. His goal in last year's 5-3 defeat to Toronto is up there with his best. The Swedish forward got on the end of Jonathan dos Santos' lofted throughball and, despite initially looking set to take it down on his chest, he spun and guided the ball into the net acrobatically. His penchant for martial arts was immediately noticeable from the finish.

 

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) v Real Betis – March 17, 2019

We have become so accustomed to Messi's brilliance that he makes the extraordinary seem normal, but his hat-trick clincher in March's 4-1 win at Betis was pure genius. After receiving a cut-back from Ivan Rakitic, he caressed a first-time chipped effort over Pau Lopez and in off the crossbar from about 18 yards when shooting through a crowded penalty area looked an impossibility.

 

Ajara Nchout (Cameroon Women) v New Zealand Women – June 20, 2019

Arguably the standout goal of the Women's World Cup was also a vital winner. With Cameroon being held to a 1-1 draw, Nchout – who also got her team's first – embarked on a mazy run, beating her marker twice with sharp turns before guiding a composed finish in to seal a late 2-1 win and book their place in the knockout phase of the competition.

 

Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria) v Napoli – September 2, 2018

Quagliarella went on to have the best season of his career at the ripe old age of 36 last term, scoring 26 times. We should have seen the early signs, as his first of the campaign was a truly special effort. Against his former club Napoli, Quagliarella met Bartosz Bereszynski's right-wing cross with an airborne back-heeled effort from 12 yards that left the goalkeeper helpless.

 

Juan Fernando Quintero (River Plate) v Racing Club – February 10, 2019

A former so-called 'wonderkid' who went off the boil before enjoying a resurgence, Quintero has had a fine couple of years. A playmaker with an eye for the spectacular, his free-kick against Racing in the 2-0 Superliga win in February was quintessential Quintero – from about 35 yards out on the right flank, his left-footed strike bent inside the top-right corner in a remarkable display of accuracy.

 

Amy Rodriguez (Utah Royals) v Sky Blue FC – June 16, 2019

After picking up possession inside her own half, Rodriguez cleverly side-stepped a defender and burst into the attack. She got to the final third and, sensing little support, let fly with a left-footed screamer that nestled in the top-right corner.

Billie Simpson (Cliftonville Ladies) v Sion Swift Ladies – August 9, 2018

A truly ridiculous goal. Straight from the opposing goal-kick, Simpson volleyed it right back in the opposite direction, catching it perfectly with a ferocious volley that caught the goalkeeper completely off guard.

 

Daniel Zsori (Debrecen) v Ferencvaros – February 16, 2019

Eighteen-year-old Zsori announced himself to Hungarian football in astonishing fashion in February. On his league debut, the attacker met a cross from deep with an overhead-kick just inside the area, picking out the top-far corner in stoppage time to secure a 2-1.

Bayern Munich asked retired Arjen Robben for permission before giving new signing Philippe Coutinho his old No.10 shirt and club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge believes the Brazilian is a worthy successor.

After a difficult 18-month spell with Barcelona, Coutinho completed a season-long loan move to Bayern on Monday, with the German champions able to make the switch permanent for €120million.

Bayern have been undertaking something of a rebuild in recent months, with various older players being moved on or retiring.

Chief among those are Franck Ribery and Robben, with the latter opting to hang up his boots after a 10-year spell at the club that saw him win 20 trophies.

Given their respective contributions to Bayern, Rummenigge confirmed they intended to leave the No.7 and No.10 jerseys unoccupied, but Robben gave permission for Coutinho to take his.

When asked about where Coutinho will play, Rummenigge told a news conference: "Hasan [Salihamidzic, sporting director] and Niko [Kovac, coach] have already agreed on all the tactical variants, and Hasan had a talk with Arjen Robben this morning.

"We did not want to give his number away for the time being, as a special gesture, but we also wanted to show how important and valuable this is.

"It was also a very important sign for Philippe that the club is also fully behind him, so Arjen has no problem at all, he wishes him all the best, and he is a more than worthy successor."

Coutinho could make his Bayern debut on Saturday when they travel to Gelsenkirchen to face Schalke in the Bundesliga.

Philippe Coutinho accepts his time at Barcelona "didn't work out" the way he had hoped after he completed a loan move to Bayern Munich on Monday.

Coutinho joined Barca from Liverpool in January 2018 in a deal potentially worth a reported €160million and things began promisingly, as he scored eight goals in his first 18 LaLiga games.

However, he struggled for consistency and failed to hold down a spot in the starting XI last season, playing only 22 matches from the beginning.

Coutinho became a scapegoat for fans and came in for increased criticism – as did coach Ernesto Valverde and team-mate Ivan Rakitic – after Barca's Champions League semi-final exit to Liverpool, despite them winning the first leg 3-0.

The Brazil international had been suggested as a potential makeweight in a deal to take Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain back to Camp Nou, but Bayern secured his loan signing with a €120m purchase option.

Coutinho acknowledges things could have gone better in LaLiga but insists he is excited to be joining the German champions.

"Concerning Barcelona, things didn't work out the way we wanted," Coutinho told reporters at his Bayern presentation.

"But that's the past. This is a new club, a big club, an important club. I hope I'll be here for a long time and win lots of titles."

Despite the difficulties Coutinho had at Barca, he is adamant it was not all a negative experience – though he had no doubts about leaving for Bayern.

"Within those years I did have great experiences," he said. "I learnt a lot, won a lot with that club and then we had the Copa America, which I won with Brazil and that was really important.

"Now I have a chance at a new club, a big club. I didn't have any doubts when Hasan [Salihamidzic, Bayern sporting director] called me.

"He really wanted me to come here, so they flew to Barcelona, we met, they showed me the project and that's why I really want to thank them, because from the first second [it was clear] how they see me. That was important for me to see."

Coutinho could make his debut away to Schalke on Saturday.

Philippe Coutinho's loan move to Bayern Munich is complete and so begins the club's season-long assessment of whether to activate their option to buy him on a permanent basis.

The former Liverpool star has suffered a loss of form since making a big-money move to Barcelona in 2018 and will now have the chance to reinvent himself in the Bundesliga.

While Bayern have chased Leroy Sane throughout the transfer window, it appears Coutinho and Ivan Perisic - signed on loan from Inter - will be the players tasked with replacing Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.

Niko Kovac must also fill the creative void left by James Rodriguez's return to Real Madrid and Coutinho, who is accustomed to playing centrally, could be anointed chief playmaker.

Here, we use Opta data to assess the merits of such a move, comparing the strengths and weaknesses of his game in comparison James.

 

Direct and dangerous

Shedding the more pedestrian James and deploying Coutinho in his place should give Bayern a greater degree of dynamism going forward.

The Brazilian causes problems with his willingness and ability to beat defenders, traits not exhibited quite so regularly by James.

Over the past two seasons, Coutinho attempted an average of 2.4 more dribbles per match and completed them with a success rate of 58.1 per cent.

James trusts less in his ability to go beyond markers, a dribble success rate of 44.2 per cent explaining his hesitance.

Yet, as the silky former Real Madrid man showcased at the Allianz Arena, his skills in other departments are sharper than most.

 

Bayern to get creative with solution to missing assists

James tallied 67 appearances across all competitions in his two seasons with Bayern.

Coutinho, in the same period, featured in 96 matches for Liverpool and Barcelona, clocking up over 2,000 more on-field minutes.

Despite the huge discrepancy, the pair each recorded 19 assists.

James, with his 89.2 per cent passing accuracy, created 3.5 chances per 90 minutes, during which he averaged 95 touches.

He outperformed Coutinho in both departments, the former Anfield favourite averaging 2.1 chances created from 82 touches per game.

Perisic will help bridge the gap, but it seems Robert Lewandowski might have to make peace with a less consistent supply line this season.

 

New firepower in front of goal

Where the champions can reasonably expect clear return on their investment is in goals scored.

Despite well-documented difficulties, Coutinho still did his part at Barca by notching 13 times in LaLiga. Those goals contributed to a solid combined two-season tally of 33, averaging out at 0.5 per 90 minutes.

James, the Golden Boot winner at the 2014 World Cup, managed seven in each of his Bundesliga campaigns.

He struck a total of 15 times in all for Bayern, having averaged 2.3 shots and 3.5 touches in the opposition box per match.

Coutinho's role is still to be determined and how his team-mates receive him remains to be seen, but an average of 3.3 shots and 4.6 touches in the opposition box over the course of 90 minutes portrays a player who will actively seek out his own opportunities.

Philippe Coutinho has completed his season-long loan move from Barcelona to Bayern Munich, who have an option to make the deal permanent for €120million.

LaLiga champions Barca revealed the potential future fee is on top of an initial €8.5m loan payment.

The figures fall short of the €160m deal that Barca negotiated with Liverpool in January 2018.

Coutinho's switch from England to Spain attracted plenty of fanfare but he failed to deliver on expectations and spent periods out of Ernesto Valverde's preferred XI last season.

Barca are reported to have offered the midfield misfit to Paris Saint-Germain in a player-plus-cash exchange for Neymar.

Premier League clubs Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham were also linked with the former Inter man, but Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said the 27-year-old expressed firm interest in a move to Allianz Arena.

"Philippe made it very clear to us during the negotiations in Barcelona that he absolutely wanted to move to Bayern," Salihamidzic said.

"He's a world-class player with great ability, who we can deploy in a number of positions in our forward line, so the Bayern squad has gained even more quality.

"Philippe Coutinho will help us achieve the ambitious targets we've set for this season."

An exciting scorer and provider at Anfield, his chief responsibility under Niko Kovac will be to fill the creative void left by James Rodriguez's return to Real Madrid after a two-season loan spell.

Coutinho said: "For me, this move means a new challenge in a new country with one of the best clubs in Europe.

"I'm very much looking forward to that.

"Like Bayern, I have big ambitions and I'm convinced that I can achieve them together with my new team-mates."

On Sunday, the Bundesliga club sealed the signing of French midfielder Mickael Cuisance from Borussia Monchengladbach on a five-year contract, while Ivan Perisic joined on loan from Inter last week.

The three new additions further reinforce Kovac's squad following the departures of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery at the end of the last title-winning campaign.

Philippe Coutinho has endured a difficult spell at Barcelona, but now the Brazil playmaker has the chance to reignite his career at Bayern Munich.

Bayern and Barca representatives confirmed on Friday that a deal had been agreed for Coutinho to join the Bundesliga champions on a season-long loan deal and the move was officially completed on Monday.

There is also an option for Bayern to buy the former Liverpool star outright for €120million at the end of the loan.

While some Bayern fans were underwhelmed with the signing of Ivan Perisic as an alternative to Leroy Sane - whose anterior cruciate ligament injury has ended the chances of an imminent move for the Manchester City winger - Coutinho's arrival will surely soften the blow should the 27-year-old recapture his Liverpool form.

Below, we analyse how Bayern could line up in 2019-20.
 

4-2-3-1: Manuel Neuer; Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez, David Alaba; Corentin Tolisso, Thiago Alcantara; Serge Gnabry, Philippe Coutinho, Kingsley Coman; Robert Lewandowski.

Coutinho's ability to not only thread sublime throughballs behind the lines, but also unleash wicked shots from range, makes him the perfect fit to play behind Lewandowski.

Niko Kovac is blessed with two rapid wingers in the form of Gnabry and Coman, who will be able to stretch the opposition and open up space for Coutinho to exploit in the centre.

While Thiago can sit as a deep-lying playmaker, Corentin Tolisso has the energy to get up in support of the front line, which would also enable Coutinho to drop back into midfield and use his dribbling skills to drive upfield.

4-3-3: Manuel Neuer; Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez, David Alaba; Thiago Alcantara, Javi Martinez, Philippe Coutinho; Serge Gnabry, Robert Lewandowski, Ivan Perisic.

Potentially a system that would be suitable for big European nights, Bayern could deploy Coutinho in a central midfield three.

Javi Martinez would come in as the holding midfielder, with Thiago able to keep things ticking over alongside the former Athletic Bilbao man.

Coutinho would be given freedom, able to drift wide and link up with the advancing full-backs, or burst forward in possession through the centre.

Brazil coach Tite often plays Coutinho in a similar role for the national team.

 

3-4-1-2: Manuel Neuer; Benjamin Pavard, Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez; Joshua Kimmich, Corentin Tolisso, Thiago Alcantara, David Alaba; Philippe Coutinho; Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski.

Hernandez came in as Bayern's record signing from Atletico Madrid, but he is not the only defender to have joined the Bundesliga giants, with fellow World Cup winner Pavard having also arrived.

Hernandez may be likely to start more games, but Pavard's introduction could also lead to Bayern deploying a back three, with Coutinho utilised in a playmaking role behind a front two - in this case, Lewandowski and Muller.

One concern with this line-up could be a lack of pace, though Kovac would have the option to introduce Coman, Gnabry or Perisic from the bench if required, with Muller and Lewandowski likely to thrive off Coutinho's creativity.

 

4-2-3-1: Manuel Neuer; Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez, David Alaba; Corentin Tolisso; Thiago Alcantara; Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller, Philippe Coutinho; Robert Lewandowski.

Coutinho was often forced to play wide at Barca, though that was in more of a front three or a 4-4-2.

At Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp regularly deployed Coutinho on the left flank, with the Brazilian encouraged to drift infield and link the play or get off a deadly shot.

Kovac could use his new signing in a similar way, allowing Coutinho to cut inside and switch the play to Gnabry on the opposite flank, while there would also be room for Muller to play as a second striker.

Real Madrid lead the race to sign Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar, while Barcelona are optimistic.

Neymar, 27, is set to leave Ligue 1 champions PSG before the transfer window closes on September 2, with either Barca or Madrid his likely destination.

It remains to be seen just where the Brazil forward ends up, but Madrid have apparently moved ahead of their rivals in the race.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID LEAD BARCELONA IN RACE FOR NEYMAR

Contacts intensified between the parties involved in getting Neymar from PSG to Real Madrid, according to AS.

However, the cover of Sport says Barcelona are "optimistic" about signing the star they sold to PSG for €222million two years ago.

They also report that PSG are making constant calls to the LaLiga champions as they try to find an agreement.

 

ROUND-UP

- Napoli appear to be growing tired of waiting for Mauro Icardi, who is unwanted at Inter. According to Corriere dello Sport, Napoli want an answer from the forward regarding a potential switch by Saturday.

- One more time? Real Madrid are set to make a final push to sign Paul Pogba from Manchester United, according to The Times, who say the Premier League club are expected to reject any offers for the France international.

- A player set for an exit from Old Trafford is Alexis Sanchez and more details are emerging about his move from Manchester United to Inter. Fabrizio Romano reports Inter are in talks with United to sign Sanchez on a season-long loan with an option to buy for €15m (£13.7m), with United to pay part of the Chilean's wages.

- Could Emre Can leave Juventus after just one season in Turin? Bayern Munich and PSG are interested in the former Liverpool star, according to Tuttosport, with the Serie A champions set to let a midfielder leave after the arrivals of Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot. PSG are also set to meet with Paulo Dybala's representatives on Tuesday, reports in Italy say.

- Amid fresh rumours PSG are chasing Gianluigi Donnarumma, the goalkeeper has reiterated his desire to stay at AC Milan, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

- Daniel Sturridge could be close to making a decision on his future. The Daily Express report the former Liverpool forward is in talks with Turkish side Trabzonspor, while Ligue 1 outfit Monaco could also make Sturridge an offer if Radamel Falcao departs.

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