Barcelona have completed the signing of young Japan attacker Hiroki Abe on a four-year deal from Kashima Antlers.

The J1 League side confirmed Abe's impending departure on Friday after agreeing a reported €2million deal, and Barca have since announced his arrival.

Abe, 20, was named Rookie of the Year in Japan's top-flight last year and featured in all three of Japan's group matches at the 2019 Copa America.

He is expected to initially link up with Barca's second string but could feature for the first-team on their pre-season tour.

Sevilla have continued their close-season spending spree by completing the reported €12million signing of former Spain Under-21 midfielder Oliver Torres from Porto on a five-year deal.

Torres, 24, came through the ranks at Atletico Madrid and showed real promise in his early days before Porto signed him for an apparent €20m fee in 2017, having had two successful loan spells at the club.

The first of Torres' loan stays saw him coached by new Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui, who had also worked with the playmaker while in charge of the Under-19, Under-20 and Under-21 sides in the Spain setup.

Torres struggled to hold down a first-team spot at Porto across the last two seasons, however, starting a total of 21 Primeira Liga games.

It is thought the technically gifted midfielder will stand a better chance of fulfilling his potential under a coach he has previously excelled with, and he will be expected to offer competition for Ever Banega and Franco Vazquez.

Torres' signing takes Sevilla's spending to a reported €123m this close-season, with returning sporting director Monchi overseeing a massive overhaul of a squad deemed to have underperformed in the past two campaigns.

The Atletico academy product joins Jules Kounde, Munas Dabbur, Diego Carlos, Lucas Ocampos, Joan Jordan, Luuk de Jong, Fernando and Sergio Reguilon in joining the club, while Maximilian Wober also had his loan made permanent.

Further arrivals are expected at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, with Monchi said to be open to losing almost every player from last season's squad, with the exceptions of Bryan Gil, Jesus Navas, Daniel Carrico, Sergio Escudero and Munir El Haddadi.

Neymar has been defended by his father after the Paris Saint-Germain star claimed Barcelona's 6-1 Champions League win over his current employers was a career highlight.

PSG forward Neymar caused controversy when he failed to report in the French capital for pre-season training, with the club stating they would take "appropriate action", although the player's camp insisted it had been agreed he would not return until July 15.

The club's sporting director Leonardo later confirmed Neymar wished to leave PSG, though he stressed a move would only be sanctioned if a suitable offer was made, with Barca seemingly favourites to land their former forward despite the €120million arrival of Antoine Griezmann.

And Neymar - who is due to return to PSG on Monday - risked causing further anger when he declared Barca's magnificent comeback victory at Camp Nou in 2016-17 as one of his best memories from a professional dressing room.

However, Neymar's father has come to his son's defence, insisting the 27-year-old has not disrespected PSG with remarks that are similar to some he made two years ago.

"My son has not been lacking respect to PSG or the athletes who played that game in 2017," Neymar Sr. wrote on his official Instagram account.

"Some of them [involved in that game] are currently his club mates in France. From the end of that game to today, he always remembers this match as one of the most important in his career.

"There are a few journalists and fans around the world who consider this as the most important game of the athlete at the club. So why the controversy this time?

"My son is an athlete of PSG, but he cannot just ignore his history, history that made him reach the French club."

After Antoine Griezmann's long-awaited move to Barcelona, another transfer saga appears close to completion.

Leicester City and England centre-back Harry Maguire is reportedly poised for Manchester.

The red half will be happy…

 

TOP STORY – UNITED AGREE £80M DEAL FOR MAGUIRE

Manchester United have agreed to pay a world-record fee for a defender to sign Maguire from Leicester City, according to The Sun.

United will reportedly fork out £60million with an additional £20m available in add-ons, to see the England centre-back surpass Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk as the most expensive defender.

Premier League champions Manchester City were also linked to Maguire, however, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks set to get his man as he overhauls the Red Devils' defence following last season's sixth-place finish.

 

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Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt will complete his transfer to Juventus by Monday, Gazzetta dello Sport says. Gianluca Di Marzio, meanwhile, reports that a medical should take place on Tuesday.

- Paris Saint-Germain are set to sign Borussia Dortmund defender Abdou Diallo, according to ESPN FC. The Ligue 1 champions will pay €32m for the France Under-21 international, who only joined Dortmund from Mainz in 2018.

- Tuttosport reports Torino have rejected a €60m offer from West Ham for star striker Andrea Belotti. The Hammers are desperate to sign a forward following Marko Arnautovic's move to China.

- Scottish champions Celtic have rejected Arsenal's latest bid – believed to be £25m – for left-back Kieran Tierney, according to Sky Sports.

Neymar's future with Paris Saint-Germain could be decided in talks in Paris this week, the Daily Mail says. The Brazil star has been linked with a stunning return to LaLiga holders Barcelona.

- According to L'Equipe, Spanish trio Real Betis, Sevilla and Valencia are all interested in signing Lyon captain Nabil Fekir.

Flamengo are looking to sign Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa, according to ESPN Brazil. The former Chelsea star has also been linked to Premier League duo Everton and Wolves.

- According to Marca, Tottenham and AC Milan target Dani Ceballos could be set to stay at Real Madrid. The LaLiga giants feel they cannot find better players than Ceballos at a reasonable price.

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar acknowledged he is not a "perfect role model" nor a "superhero".

The Brazil international has spent almost two years with Paris Saint-Germain, but rumours of unhappiness, rocky relationships with team-mates and a lack of commitment have rarely been far away.

More recently, Neymar failed to report back for pre-season training earlier this month amid speculation he wants to return to Barcelona, while PSG sporting director Leonardo confirmed the forward was available for a transfer if the price is right.

Neymar further risked the wrath of PSG supporters on Saturday when highlighting Barca's remarkable 2016-17 Champions League turnaround against his current employers as one of his two favourite football memories, though he showed a more vulnerable side at the Red Bull Neymar Jr's Five football tournament in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

The former Barca man said: "I'm no superhero nor perfect a perfect role model. I also have my bad moments, when I want to go home and hide, to stay with my friends and family.

"I'm no superhero that handles all the pressure in the world, but I make an effort because I know what I've become, not only to my family and son, but for most of the children that are here.

"I know I have a huge responsibility and I want to act in the best way possible. Always being honest, that is the most important thing."

Neymar missed Brazil's successful Copa America campaign due to an ankle injury and he was especially gutted to be absent as that tournament had been his big goal for the year.

"Being out of Copa America was so bad, I didn't like it," he added. "I don't even like to stay out of training, so you can imagine [what it was like missing] Copa America.

"That was so important to me and was my focus this year, but I cheered a lot for my colleagues and friends.

"I was really happy to see them win, even more than if I was playing. Their happiness is mine also."

Antoine Griezmann insists he does not regret the 'Decision' documentary that revealed he was rejecting Barcelona last year and is convinced he can repair any damage caused with his efforts on the pitch for the Blaugrana.

Barca had been strongly linked with a move for Griezmann in 2018 and were even reported to have struck an agreement with him, as Atletico reported the Catalan club to FIFA at the end of 2017.

The prolonged saga reached its conclusion with a documentary following Griezmann as he made up his mind about whether to move or stay in Madrid, with the clip produced by Gerard Pique's production company.

In the end he revealed his choice was to remain and sign a new five-year contract at Atletico, but 13 months later he became a Barca player after his €120million release clause was triggered by the LaLiga champions on Friday.

Griezmann received significant criticism for the documentary and he was asked about it in his presentation news conference at Camp Nou on Sunday.

"I've done some bad things in my past and I've never regretted it because it's something I wanted to do at the time," he told reporters.

"I wanted to show what is not seen and I have not toyed with both parties. The most important thing is that we are now together. You have to ask for forgiveness, for some it will be on the field."

When asked whether Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi could be annoyed with him, he added: "They could be, but I think that with the assistance that I can give them, we can fix everything."

Given the fairly short amount of time between rejecting Barca and then joining them, many have wondered why there was a change of heart, particularly given he signed a five-year deal with Atletico last year.

For Griezmann it is simple – he was not ready to make such a step in 2018.

"I have a family to move," he said. "I saw my wife, my world, and I was not ready to take the step, and this year has been different.

"It's always difficult to leave a home where we felt comfortable with family and friends, it was difficult. I only have admiration and respect for Atletico.

"I wanted a new challenge, to try to improve myself, not be comfortable. I look for my place in a great club and try to win the three titles."

Atletico Madrid have no proof to back up their claims Barcelona had an agreement in place with Antoine Griezmann as early as March, according to Blaugrana president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Barca triggered Griezmann's €120million release clause and completed the signing of the France international on Friday, presenting him as their player two days later.

But shortly after Barca announced Griezmann's signing, Atletico released a statement challenging the deal, adamant the player and the Catalan club struck an agreement over personal terms in March.

As such, Atletico felt they were entitled to €200m rather than €120m, the figure his release clause dropped to on July 1.

However, Bartomeu is relaxed about the situation and is convinced Atletico have no grounds for such demands.

"I have spoken to them, but I do not think there is any proof, because there is no evidence of anything," Bartomeu told reporters at Griezmann's presentation.

"I understand everyone defends their interests and I've spoken to [Enrique] Cerezo [Atletico president], but I don't see that the case can evolve in a positive way for them. There's nothing.

"We contacted Griezmann after he made the video saying goodbye to the fans, there was nothing in March."

Barcelona have confirmed Antoine Griezmann will wear the number 17, rather than taking the number seven shirt from Philippe Coutinho.

It had been reported Griezmann could retain the number he wore during his time at Atletico Madrid after sealing a long-awaited move to Camp Nou.

But ahead of his first news conference as a Barca player on Sunday, the LaLiga champions revealed Griezmann - who also wears seven for France - will instead be given the number 17.

Coutinho is reportedly surplus to requirements at Barca as a result of the Griezmann deal, with suggestions he could be used as a makeweight in a move for Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar.

Kia Joorabchian, Coutinho's representative, told RMC Sport that Barca adviser Andre Cury is pushing for Coutinho to be sent to PSG as part of Neymar's potential return.

Valencia have won the race to sign Celta Vigo forward Maxi Gomez.

The Uruguay international, who had also been strongly linked with West Ham, moves to Mestalla on a five-year contract that includes a €140million release clause.

Valencia have reportedly paid a fee in the region of €14.5m for the 22-year-old, while Celta have confirmed the return of Santi Mina as part of the transfer.

Jorge Saenz is also expected to head to Balaidos on a two-year loan. 

Mina made more than 100 league appearances for Valencia and scored 29 goals, but he is now back at Celta after four seasons away.

Marcelino's side saw off competition for the signing of Gomez, whose release clause has been set at €140m, with Barcelona also rumoured to have showed an interest this year.

He scored 30 goals in 71 league games for Celta after joining from Defensor Sporting two years ago.

Valencia have been busy during the close season having also added the likes of Jasper Cillessen, Manu Vallejo and Jason to their squad, while Denis Cheryshev has signed a permanent deal.

Victor Mollejo has set himself the target of becoming a regular for Atletico Madrid after breaking into the first team last season.

The 18-year-old winger featured four times for Atletico in the second half of 2018-19, although each of those appearances came from the substitutes' bench.

Big things are expected of the academy product, who became the first player born in the 21st century to play for the Spanish side when used by Diego Simeone in a friendly win over Leganes in August 2017 at the age of 16.

And Mollejo, part of Spain's European Under-19 Championship squad, expects more first-team chances to come his way this coming season in what is shaping up to be a new era for Atletico.

"I think in the end the opportunities will come," he told Marca. "In some clubs it is more complicated but I think the opportunity will end up coming. 

"My dream is to be at Atletico all my life. It's true that I have already made my debut but I want to be part of the first team so I have to work and take advantage of those opportunities that I have. The dream of most of us here is to play in Spain and succeed here.

"I have not talked to [Simeone] yet. The club has wished me good luck for the European Championship and we'll talk about it later, I suppose."

Atletico will have a different look to them in 2019-20 following star forward Antoine Griezmann's move to Barcelona, while Lucas Hernandez, Rodri and Diego Godin have also departed the Wanda Metropolitano.

But Mollejo believes last season's runners-up in LaLiga will be even stronger this time around after adding Marcos Llorente, Felipe, Hector Herrera, Renan Lodi and Ivan Saponjic to their squad, alongside €126million teenager Joao Felix.

"The club is growing. You are seeing that with the signings," he added.

"It is a source of pride for all the fans. Atletico are making great signings and they will contribute a lot to the club."

Antoine Griezmann began the formalities of fitness and medical tests on his first day of pre-season as a Barcelona player on Sunday.

The World Cup winner visited his new club's training ground for routine examinations a day after arriving in Catalonia.

Griezmann, 28, joined Barca on a five-year deal after the LaLiga champions triggered his €120million release clause at Atletico Madrid.

His next official duty will be to meet the media for a photo session and news conference before training begins on Monday.

Ernesto Valverde is expected to run the rule over more than a dozen first-team players, including €75m acquisition Frenkie de Jong, with one eye on the upcoming trip to Japan.

Barca face Chelsea and local club Vissel Kobe, now home to Andreas Iniesta, on July 23 and 27 respectively.

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and the Blaugrana's other Copa America representatives will not be present for the start of pre-season training, having been afforded additional time to recuperate.

Coutinho's future remains uncertain amid claims from his agent that Barca are attempting to offload the Brazil international to Paris Saint-Germain in exchange for Neymar.

Valverde's men finished 11 points clear atop LaLiga last term but failed in their quest for a Champions League triumph, losing out to eventual winners Liverpool in the semi-finals.

Hector Herrera is relishing the chance to call Joao Felix a team-mate at Atletico Madrid after the prodigiously talented teenager helped snatch silverware from his grasp last season.

Mexico midfielder Herrera signed a three-year deal at the Wanda Metropolitano earlier this month after six seasons with Porto in Portugal.

The 29-year-old was announced as a new addition on the same day as Joao Felix's arrival from Benfica for €126million.

The pair last crossed paths in March, when one of Joao Felix's 15 Primeira Liga goals helped Benfica to a crucial 2-1 victory at Estadio do Dragao.

Defeat proved costly for Porto as they finished two points adrift of the eventual champions, and the 19-year-old on the other team left a big impression on Herrera. 

"I really like how he plays," Herrera told AS when asked about Joao Felix, who netted 20 times in all competitions last term.

"What I noticed when I played against him was that he was extremely intelligent with his movement for someone so young. That's what I like about him. He's not the typical striker.

"And he has scored a lot of goals. He's a great player. I didn't want to wish him luck then, but I do now."

Atletico have been prolific in the transfer market in preparation for Antoine Griezmann's departure for Barcelona, which was confirmed on Friday.

Centre-back Felipe, also from Porto, and left-back Renan Lodi have been brought in as defensive reinforcements, while Diego Simeone lured midfielder Marcos Llorente away from city rivals Real Madrid.

Atleti returned to raid Benfica for young striker Ivan Saponjic on Thursday and have been linked to Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez.

Neymar needs to put wellness before wallet when it comes to choosing between Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, according to former Brazil boss Dunga.

PSG signed Neymar in a world-record €222million deal two years ago but reports suggest the free-scoring forward now wants to rejoin Barca, despite the likelihood of having to take a pay cut.

Part of the 27-year-old's motivation appears to be his desire to reunite with close friends Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, alongside whom he forged a fearsome forward line.

Dunga knows Neymar better than most in football, having handed him the Brazil captaincy in 2014, and thinks a comfortable environment should be his first priority.

"It's important that he chooses where he's going to be happy, where he will enjoy playing," Dunga said.

"People don't understand that the Brazilian player is different from the European one.

"We like to play, to have fun, otherwise we get tense, sad... I hope that next season he can give us a lot of joy and demonstrate his full potential. It's up to him.

"He has many qualities, technical quality. He does everything a player needs to do and has matured a lot. He wins fouls now and he likes more to score, and not only to dribble.

"I think he's in a good moment."

Dunga was speaking at an event commemorating the 25th anniversary of Brazil's triumph at the 1994 World Cup.

One feted member of that side, former Deportivo La Coruna striker Bebeto, has an intimate understanding of the pressure associated with providing goals for club and country.

The scorer of six World Cup goals counselled his compatriot on the even greater importance of living up to his stature back in Brazil.

"I hope with all my heart that Neymar can put his head in place," Bebeto said.

"Neymar doesn't know the size of his name. He has to be an example. We have to talk about Neymar making goals, helping the Brazilian team.

"I'm very supportive of him, because he's a great player and any team in the world has a place for him."

The future of James Rodriguez has dominated headlines this off-season.

Napoli have been tipped to sign James after Bayern Munich opted not to take up their permanent option to sign the Real Madrid midfielder.

However, James could be set to remain in the Spanish capital.

 

TOP STORY – ATLETICO SET FOR SHOCK SWOOP

Atletico Madrid are close to completing the signing of James Rodriguez from LaLiga rivals Real Madrid, according to Marca.

Napoli have been favourites to lure James to Italy, with the Serie A side keen to reunite the Colombia star and head coach Carlo Ancelotti.

However, negotiations have dragged on and James – who spent the past two seasons on loan at Bayern Munich – is reportedly keen to make the switch across town.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to le10sport, Barcelona have offered Philippe Coutinho in a straight swap for Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar. LaLiga champions Barca reportedly do not have money to spend after paying Antoine Griezmann's release clause.

- Sky Sports reports Arsenal have made an improved £25million offer for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney. Meanwhile, BBC Sport claims the Gunners have not submitted a bid for Lille forward Nicolas Pepe as they cannot afford the €80m-rated star.

- Harry Maguire has told Leicester City he wants to leave amid growing speculation he will join Manchester United, says the Daily Mail.

- According to the Daily Mail, Bayern Munich have not given up on signing Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi. The Bundesliga champions are reportedly set to make a £45million offer. Bayern are also interested in Tottenham right-back Kieran Trippier, Sky Sports understands.

Juventus goalkeeper Mattia Perin is close to moving to Portuguese champions Benfica, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. Perin is looking for regular football following Gianluigi Buffon's return to Turin, where Wojciech Szczesny is the number one.

- The Mirror says Liverpool have joined Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in the race to sign CSKA Moscow striker Fedor Chalov.

Juventus could use Moise Kean in a deal to sign Inter outcast Mauro Icardi, according to FCInterNews.it. Rai Sport has also claimed Juve could take Icardi on loan with an option to buy for €40million.

Neymar did little to ease tensions with Paris Saint-Germain as he declared Barcelona's classic 2016-17 Champions League comeback against the Parisians as one of his fondest memories in football.

The Brazilian star appears to be at loggerheads with his employers at PSG, as it is claimed he is trying to engineer a return to Barca.

Furthermore, PSG sporting director Leonardo confirmed Neymar can leave if potential suitors meet their asking price.

Neymar joined PSG from Barca for a world-record fee of €222million in August 2017, but just five months earlier he played a major role in dumping the French side out of the Champions League in the last 16.

PSG won the first leg 4-0, but Barca stunned them at the Camp Nou as they ran out 6-1 winners, scoring three times – including a Neymar brace – after the 88th minute to pull off one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history.

And, speaking at the Red Bull Neymar Jr's Five event, Neymar again risked the wrath of PSG fans by calling that one of his two best moments in football.

Speaking to Oh My Goal, Neymar said: "My best memory as a footballer? There are two moments. Firstly, when we won the Olympics with Brazil.

"Secondly, the 'remontada' against Paris. What we felt when we scored the sixth goal… I never felt something like this. It was incredible.

"When we won against PSG with Barca, it was completely… we all went crazy afterwards. I believe it was the best possible feeling for all of us."

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