Andres Iniesta believes Barcelona would not regret bringing Neymar back from Paris Saint-Germain.

Brazil star Neymar has been repeatedly linked with a Camp Nou return over the past six months, with PSG digging in during the Ligue 1 close season to ensure he stayed in Paris.

An astonishing move to the French giants in August 2017 saw Neymar bought out of his Barcelona contract for a world-record €222million, and PSG hoped he would lead them to Champions League glory.

Only this week, Neymar said he felt the longed-for European glory remained a possibility this season, and he has seen off much of the hostility from Parisian supporters that followed several months of appearing to agitate for a return to Barca.

Yet as PSG bid to scoop a third successive Ligue 1 title and brace for a Champions League last-16 clash with Borussia Dortmund, rumours linking Neymar to the Blaugrana continue to linger.

Iniesta was a team-mate of Neymar's at Barcelona. Now a Vissel Kobe player, the Spain great has no doubt Neymar would slot back in and make a big contribution if a return could be negotiated.

"He's one of the best forwards out there, not just now," Iniesta said, quoted in Marca.

"He'd be a great signing for Barcelona. Another thing is whether it's necessary or not. For me, he's one of the best and he'd be a great signing."

Barcelona have a strong array of attacking talent, with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann leading the line in Thursday's Supercopa clash against Atletico Madrid.

Messi and Suarez are both 32, however, and eventually Barcelona will need a succession plan when it comes to their vaunted attack. Neymar does not turn 28 until next month.

Iniesta remains in awe of Messi's achievements, though, saying of the six-time Ballon d'Or winner: "He keeps outdoing himself, beating records; he's more important than ever.

"It's the best news for Barcelona that he's like this. I hope that he can achieve the objectives that he has this season."

Harry Kane is not expected to return to training until April in a huge blow to both Tottenham and England.

The Spurs striker suffered a ruptured tendon in his left hamstring in the Premier League defeat to Southampton this month, and the club confirmed on Thursday he would undergo surgery.

The latest estimate for Kane's lay-off should concern Tottenham fans, with the team sixth and six points off a Champions League place, while England manager Gareth Southgate will also be worried as Euro 2020 approaches.

So, will Spurs stick or twist in the transfer market? And does Southgate have an alternative to his talismanic captain?

SON TO THE FORE AT SPURS?

Jose Mourinho had insisted prior to this injury he had little interest in January business. While that must surely change with this news, Tottenham have rarely been willing to spend big in recent seasons.

Might their new head coach instead tinker with his existing options, then? Son Heung-min would appear the obvious candidate to take on Kane's striking role.

The winger started up front at Middlesbrough in the FA Cup on Sunday and deputised well for Kane for a stretch last season, prompting suggestions the South Korea star might play better without his most lethal attacking team-mate.

Lucas Moura, who also led the line in Kane's absence last season, and Dele Alli are options to join Son in attack, while Troy Parrott – 17 years old with just two senior appearances to his name – would hope to be handed a more prominent role.

 

PIPPING RIVALS TO PIATEK?

Spurs finally looked to have suitable cover for Kane in the form of Fernando Llorente last season, only for the veteran to depart for Napoli on a free at the end of the campaign.

Now, Tottenham are not the only English side searching for goals in the mid-season transfer window, with Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace all short in that department, but Mourinho's men should have the profile to blow those rivals out of the water.

One man linked with Spurs, Newcastle and Villa in recent days is Krzysztof Piatek, the Milan striker now at risk of slipping to the fringes of the Rossoneri first team following Zlatan Ibrahimovic's return to San Siro.

Piatek was one of Europe's form strikers last season and, while his goals tally is far more modest this term – he only has four in 18 appearances in Serie A – Tottenham may have little choice but to take a risk. Milan reportedly want £30million rather than a loan.

 

ENGLAND U-TURN FOR VARDY?

Kane was the leading scorer in Euros qualifying with 12 goals and had been set to star for England in a finals tournament that will feature seven matches, including the semi-finals and final, on home soil at Wembley.

But perhaps Southgate is better equipped than Mourinho to deal with the absence of his key striker, with four of the Premier League's top five marksmen this term eligible for England.

Leading the way with 17 goals is Jamie Vardy, who has not featured for his country since the 2018 World Cup, citing in part his reduced role behind Kane in the pecking order as he stepped away from international football.

Yet with Kane facing a race against time to be fit for the finals, Vardy might now find himself a prominent figure if he could be tempted back into the squad.

 

FIVE YEARS ON, ANOTHER INGS CAP?

England are not short of options, as the Golden Boot race suggests, with Tammy Abraham in top form and both Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling capable of playing through the middle.

But Danny Ings will surely see this as his opportunity to add to his sole Three Lions cap earned in 2015 – he replaced Kane from the bench on that occasion – before awful injury troubles at Liverpool.

The Southampton striker, who scored the only goal in the game Kane suffered his injury, is enjoying the best season of his top-flight career, scoring 13 times already.

Southgate surely must at least assess Ings as an option in the March internationals, while Callum Wilson will hope to return to form for Bournemouth in order to stake his own case. Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin may also be in with a chance.

Mauro Icardi would welcome an extended stay at Paris Saint-Germain.

The on-loan Inter striker plundered a hat-trick as Thomas Tuchel's side thumped Saint-Etienne 6-1 in the Coupe de la Ligue on Wednesday, taking his tally to 17 goals in 19 appearances across all competitions for PSG.

Icardi's agent and wife Wanda Nara sparked a fresh wave of speculation over the player's future by telling Eurosport "nothing is certain" in terms of whether the Ligue 1 champions will exercise an option to purchase, reported to be in the region of €70million, at the end of the campaign.

"We haven't talked about it with the club yet, but for sure I'm very well here," Icardi said after his hat-trick heroics, as quoted by Corriere dello Sport. 

"There are still four to five months before the end of the championship, then in May, when everything is over, we will talk about it.

"But if I had to stay here, I would be happy."

Icardi's resurgence in Paris has left the club's all-time leading lscorer Edinson Cavani as the odd man out in an all-star forward line, with the formidable trio of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Angel Di Maria lining up alongside the central striker.

As such, Cavani is a reported target of Manchester United, Arsenal and Atletico Madrid this month.

"To play in the place of Cavani, after many years of having done the best in PSG's history, it is a responsibility," Icardi added when asked about the Uruguay international.

"I knew this. When I play, I give the best of myself, just as when he does. The most important thing is the team."

Barcelona midfielder Carles Alena has suggested he would be open to joining Real Madrid.

The 22-year-old agreed a deal last month to move to Real Betis for the rest of the season, having struggled for regular football under Ernesto Valverde at Camp Nou.

Alena will return to Barca at the end of 2019-20 but his long-term future remains in doubt.

And, while he accepts it would be a difficult decision to make, the player has refused to discount the idea of moving to arch-rivals Madrid.

"Football has many turns," he told Cadena SER when asked if he would ever play for Los Blancos. I've been a Barca fan all my life. It would be tough, but they've always taught me 'never say never'. But, for me, they are a rival team."

Alena started the LaLiga defeat to Athletic Bilbao on the opening day of the LaLiga season and played just four more times for Barca before joining Betis.

However, despite being frustrated with his lack of game time, he insists there is no bad blood with Barca boss Valverde.

"He never told me why he didn't call me up," Alena said. "But I had a very good relationship because of everything he has done for me. I hope that we meet in the future.

"I called him to say goodbye. He knew that I wanted to go. At the start of December, I was pretty sure. He knew that my decision was almost taken.

"They were complicated months, but in no moment was there a bad relationship with the coach. He decided that and he rules. I tried to get back as soon as possible, and it took a few months. It surprises you, annoys you and p***** you off a bit."

Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick has asked for January signings and the club are working to fulfil his request, but Hasan Salihamidzic confirmed Leroy Sane will not join this month.

Sporting director Salihamidzic addressed the media as Bayern take part in a mid-season training camp in Doha, Qatar.

He revealed Bayern are working with Flick, installed as coach at least until the end of the season following Niko Kovac's sacking in November, on moves for the present transfer window.

Salihamidzic had previously said of January: "I don't think much will happen."

However, at a news conference on Thursday, Salihamidzic told reporters: "Hansi Flick has assessed the current situation and has come to the conclusion that we need to strengthen. Hansi and I are in constant contact.

"We are considering every option, but it is difficult to strengthen our squad during the winter break."

However, Germany international Sane, long linked with a switch from Manchester City, will not be among any new recruits.

Salihamidzic did not deny Bayern would renew their interest at the end of the season but, with Sane still sidelined following a serious knee injury, a January deal was ruled out.

"It is not an issue for the winter [window]," he said.

Bayern have this month already agreed to sign Alexander Nubel, who will leave Schalke on a free transfer at the end of the season, seemingly putting star goalkeeper Manuel Neuer under pressure.

But Salihamidzic has assured there is an understanding with Nubel, 23, that Neuer will remain first choice for the start of the next campaign.

"Alexander Nubel will be a huge asset for FC Bayern," he said. "He is ambitious and a top character.

"Alexander knows that Manuel Neuer is our number one. He is looking forward to working with Manu."

Allan has joined Atletico Mineiro from Liverpool after failing to make a senior appearance for the European champions.

The 22-year-old has completed a move back to his native Brazil after the Reds accepted a reported fee of £3.2million.

Allan moved to Liverpool from Internacional in 2015 but spent his career at Anfield on loan with other clubs, initially due to work permit issues.

Having played for SJK and Sint-Truiden, he joined Hertha Berlin for the 2016-17 season, making 15 Bundesliga appearances.

Allan played 22 times for Apollon Limassol and then made just four appearances back in Germany with Eintracht Frankfurt.

He enjoyed a more productive loan on his return to Brazil with Fluminense last year.

"Everybody at Liverpool FC wishes Allan all the best for his future career," Liverpool said in a statement.

Espanyol have completed the signing of Raul de Tomas from Benfica for an initial fee of €20million.

The 25-year-old has signed a six-and-a-half-year deal to become the first arrival since head coach Abelardo took charge last month.

The deal also includes €2m in add-ons and Benfica will retain a 20 per cent sell-on clause for the forward.

The fee smashes the club's previous transfer record of €10.5m, which they paid to sign Matias Vargas from Velez Sarsfield last July.

De Tomas, who progressed through the Real Madrid youth system, enjoyed productive loan spells with Real Valladolid and Rayo Vallecano before joining Benfica on a five-year deal in July.

However, he managed only seven appearances in Portugal's top flight and did not score a single goal.

Espanyol were reportedly keen to sign him last year as a replacement for Borja Iglesias, who joined Real Betis in a €28m deal.

Sevilla were also said to be interested in bringing him back to Spain this month after allowing Munas Dabbur to sign for Hoffenheim.

De Tomas, who scored 14 goals in 33 appearances for Rayo in LaLiga last season, will be tasked with finding the goals to help drag Espanyol out of the relegation zone.

Espanyol have scored just 14 goals in 19 league games this season, two of which came in the 2-2 draw with city rivals Barcelona last Saturday.

Abelardo's side are bottom of LaLiga on 11 points, four adrift of safety, having won just twice all season in the top flight.

Massimiliano Allegri is without a club since leaving Serie A champions Juventus at the end of 2018-19.

However, Allegri could be nearing a return to management sooner rather than later.

The Italian is believed to be interested in taking charge of Manchester United.

 

TOP STORY – ALLEGRI WANTS UNITED JOB

Massimiliano Allegri is interested in becoming Manchester United manager as pressure mounts on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to the Daily Mail.

Allegri has been rumoured to be of interest to Bayern Munich after leaving Serie A champions Juve at the end of last season, while the Italian was also linked to Arsenal prior to Mikel Arteta's appointment.

However, he is reportedly holding out for the United job should Solskjaer be sacked. Ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is also believed to be monitoring the situation.

 

ROUND-UP

- ElDesmarque claims MLS duo Inter Miami and LA Galaxy are ready to vie for the signature of Real Madrid's Gareth BaleChelsea, though, have also been linked with the former Tottenham star.

- The race is heating up for Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek. Struggling for goals and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic back at San Siro, the Poland international is wanted by Tottenham, reports The Guardian and Calciomercato. Spurs want to boost their attacking options following Harry Kane's injury. Aston Villa have also tabled a bid for Piatek, but Calciomercato claims he is holding out for a bigger club.

- While Piatek could prove a difficult signing, Villa are closing in on Milan goalkeeper Pepe Reina. Calciomercato, Gazzetta dello Sport and Tuttomercatoweb say former Liverpool keeper Reina has agreed a contract with the Premier League side until the end of the season.

- The Mirror reports United are in the market to sign a defender on loan after Harry Maguire's injury. Maguire – the world's most expensive defender – is facing a spell on the sidelines due to a muscle tear.

United are also weighing up a move for Ajax and Netherlands star Donny van de Beek, reports The Telegraph. With Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba injured, the Red Devils are in need of midfield reinforcements. Van de Beek has previously been linked to Real Madrid.

- AS claims Atletico Madrid are looking at Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik as an alternative to Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani. Out of contract at season's end, Cavani is reportedly poised to make the move to Atletico, however, United and Arsenal are also interested.

- Gianluca Di Marzio says Inter winger Matteo Politano has agreed to join city rivals Milan. Struggling for game time with the Nerazzurri, Politano's agent met with Milan's management on Wednesday as a shock switch nears.

Chelsea are preparing a £40million bid for West Ham defender Issa Diop, according to the Express. London rivals Tottenham are also reportedly interested.

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde said he is not thinking about Arturo Vidal leaving the LaLiga champions amid links to Inter and Manchester United.

Vidal has slipped down the pecking order since Frenkie de Jong's arrival from Ajax, prompting speculation over his future at Camp Nou, where he has only started four LaLiga matches this season.

The 32-year-old Vidal has been heavily linked to a reunion with former Juventus head coach Antonio Conte at Serie A side Inter, while struggling Premier League giants United are reportedly interested.

Valverde addressed the rumours ahead of Thursday's Supercopa de Espana semi-final against Atletico Madrid in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

"We're not thinking about him going to another team," Valverde told a news conference. "We'll see tomorrow [Thursday]. In principle he's with us. No clues."

Pressed on reported interest from England and Italy, Valverde replied: "Arturo Vidal plays for us and tomorrow he'll be on the pitch or on the bench.

"We don't pay any attention to other clubs being interested in our players."

Vidal swapped Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich for Barcelona in 2018 and the Chilean has since won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana.

He has scored six LaLiga goals in 15 matches this season, while the veteran has amassed 20 appearances across all competitions.

Kylian Mbappe dodged questions about his contract negotiations with Paris Saint-Germain, insisting "it's not the right time to make some waves".

Mbappe has been heavily linked with a move to LaLiga giants Real Madrid, where head coach and fellow Frenchman Zinedine Zidane has made no secret of his admiration for the 21-year-old star.

PSG sporting director Leonardo has previously revealed talks over a new contract are progressing, with Mbappe's current deal running through to the end of the 2021-22 season.

Asked about his future following PSG's 6-1 Coupe de la Ligue quarter-final rout of Saint-Etienne on Wednesday, Mbappe told reporters: "I am ready to play football first. Because we are in January.

"We start the final sprint, where we can compete for trophies. I think it's not the right time to make some waves.

"The club are calm, serene, everyone is walking in the same direction so talking about external things of the pitch would not be realistic or good."

Mbappe was on target against 10-man Saint-Etienne as PSG cruised into the semi-finals thanks to Mauro Icardi's hat-trick midweek.

PSG led 3-0 at half-time via Icardi, Neymar and a Jessy Moulin own goal, and the hosts maintained their dominance in the second 45 minutes.

Mbappe helped Icardi complete his hat-trick with a pair of assists before the latter returned the favour by setting up the Frenchman in the 67th minute – Saint-Etienne's Yohan Cabaye bagged a consolation four minutes later.

On the relationship between Mbappe and Icardi, who is on loan from Serie A outfit Inter, PSG head coach Thomas Tuchel said: "I don't know if they reach another level but I know they love to play together.

"They play all four with great complicity especially Kylian and Mauro. It's obvious and it's necessary. If you play with four strikers, it's necessary that they try to find themselves on the pitch. They try to put each other in the best conditions. They give the ball to make an assist or to find a guy in a better position.

"They did great tonight. We speak a lot about the four strikers but you know that for me it's all about the team, we need to play as a team with the eleven players. That's football."

Moussa Dembele has been the subject of transfer bids but the striker will not leave Lyon in January, according to president Jean-Michel Aulas.

Chelsea are reportedly interested in the 23-year-old, who has scored 10 goals in Ligue 1 this season in 18 appearances, as Frank Lampard seeks a new forward to take some of the pressure off Tammy Abraham.

It has been suggested the Premier League club could offer cash plus Olivier Giroud to tempt Lyon into a sale during the transfer window.

However, although he says offers have been made for some of Lyon's top players, Aulas insists Dembele wants to stay at the club at least for now.

"Moussa Dembele will not leave because he wants to stay and win something with OL," he said to reporters on Wednesday.

"There have been offers for him and for other players, but none of those whom we want to keep will leave in January."

Indeed, Aulas says Lyon's primary objective is to strengthen their squad and mount a challenge for the Champions League places, given they are 12th in the table after 19 matches.

"We'll try to make ourselves stronger," he said. "The first reaction was to get the youngsters in the academy to play more and show themselves more. The second is to recruit.

"The board of directors have decided to do that, but not at any cost and not in just any situation. We'll only carry out plans that correspond to what the sporting director, the advisers and the coach want."

Inter are seemingly nearing an agreement with Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen, reports say.

The Denmark international is out of contract at the end of the season and has also been linked with a move away from Spurs in January.

Inter are among the clubs reportedly interested in Eriksen and it seems the Serie A high-flyers are close to a deal.

 

TOP STORY – INTER IN ADVANCED TALKS WITH ERIKSEN

Inter are in advanced talks with Eriksen for a move ahead of the 2020-21 season, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira.

However, he reports Spurs are looking to sell Eriksen in January for at least €20million (£17m).

Amid uncertainty over his future, Eriksen has made just nine Premier League starts for Tottenham this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at San Siro, multiple reports suggest Inter are eyeing Manchester United veteran Ashley Young. Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano reports Inter and United are in advanced talks regarding the 34-year-old.

- Georginio Wijnaldum has been linked with a surprise move from Liverpool, with his contract expiring in 2021. However, Sky Sports reports the Netherlands international is happy at the European champions and wants to stay as long as possible.

- Arsenal are looking to strengthen in January, but the Premier League club are considering loan deals. Goal reports Arsenal are unlikely to make any permanent signings this month, unless an opportunity is too good to turn down.

- In a Premier League relegation battle and with injuries mounting, Aston Villa have held talks with Milan over possible deals for forward Krzysztof Piatek and goalkeeper Pepe Reina, according to the Daily Mail. Villa lost Wesley and Tom Heaton for the rest of the season to begin the year.

- Wilfried Zaha still looks set to leave Crystal Palace. The star's agent is said to have held preliminary talks with Bayern Munich, although a move to the Bundesliga giants is unlikely, according to Sky Sports. The Mirror reports Zaha's new agent, Pini Zahavi, is also trying to get the attacker to Tottenham.

- There continues to be talk about a possible move to Tottenham for Thomas Lemar. The Independent reports Spurs are considering making a loan approach for the Atletico Madrid midfielder, with a £51million (€60m) option to buy.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is uneasy at the thought of letting players leave Manchester United following rumours Inter have expressed an interest in Ashley Young.

United lost 3-1 at home to bitter rivals Manchester City in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final on Tuesday, with the visitors outclassing Solskjaer's men for most of the match.

The defeat highlighted the glaring deficiencies in United's squad, with Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, Phil Jones and Victor Lindelof coming in for criticism for their respective performances.

Shortly after the match, rumours began to emerge claiming Serie A leaders Inter are in advanced talks for Young, who has been used as a back-up option for the full-back positions over the past few seasons.

Despite the 34-year-old being out of contract at the end of the season, Solskjaer seemed reluctant to let Young leave this month.

"Tonight's not the time to talk about players leaving, because we need the players we have in the squad and we've got a few months left of this season," Solskjaer told reporters.

"You've got to ask Ash, to be fair. For me it's about focusing on the next game and tonight [City]."

United return to Premier League action this weekend at home to Norwich City.

Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster has joined Swansea City on loan for the rest of the season.

The 19-year-old reunites with Swansea boss Steve Cooper, under whom he won the Golden Boot with England at the Under-17 World Cup in 2017.

Brewster has made only three appearances for Liverpool in 2019-20, most recently as a substitute in the 1-0 FA Cup third-round win over Everton at Anfield last Sunday.

The forward will be available to make his debut in the all-Welsh clash with Cardiff City on January 12.

Swansea sit sixth in the Championship after 26 matches.

Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster has joined Swansea City on loan for the rest of the season.

The 19-year-old reunites with Swansea boss Steve Cooper, under whom he won the Golden Boot with England at the Under-17 World Cup in 2017.

Brewster has made only three appearances for Liverpool in 2019-20, most recently as a substitute in the 1-0 FA Cup third-round win over Everton at Anfield last Sunday.

The forward will be available to make his debut in the all-Welsh clash with Cardiff City on January 12.

Swansea sit sixth in the Championship after 26 matches.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.