Matthijs de Ligt's decision to join Juventus rather than a club like Barcelona or Manchester City took his former youth team coach Ronald de Boer by surprise.

De Ligt came through Ajax's famed academy and enjoyed a rise to prominence at a very young age, earning a promotion to the first-team squad soon after his 17th birthday.

He then became the club's youngest captain as an 18-year-old and last season played a pivotal role in Ajax's journey to the semi-finals of the Champions League, before they were eventually eliminated in dramatic fashion by Tottenham.

An impressive physical specimen but also technically gifted for a centre-back, De Ligt appeared to have a litany of clubs vying for his signature last year, with Barca – who signed his Ajax team-mate Frenkie de Jong – seemingly the ideal fit.

But Juve made their move to inject developing talent into their aging backline, and De Boer concedes Turin was not the destination he had in mind for De Ligt.

"Clubs closest to the Ajax system like, Man City and Barcelona were interested," De Boer told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"It would have been easier to adapt. I thought he would have made a different choice, but I respect the decision very much."

Despite making a choice that might have taken De Ligt out of his comfort zone, De Boer remains confident he will be an era-defining defender.

"I was working in the academy of Ajax, I immediately liked his character: serious, intelligent, kind, he never complains, he works hard and learns," De Boer said

"And then he always had the skills of the great defender. He understood where the danger was coming... I remember him at under-14 level, when he returned from the following year 30 centimetres taller. He will be one of the best of this era, sure."

Lionel Messi was always showing signs he was headed for greatness from the days he rotated between Barcelona's B side and the first team and his legacy will be impossible to surpass, says Samuel Eto'o.

Former Cameroon striker Eto'o was a team-mate of Argentina great Messi from 2004 until he departed for Inter in July 2009 as part of the deal that took Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Camp Nou.

Eto'o was part of a devastating Barca attack that also included Thierry Henry and Ronaldinho and he won three LaLiga titles, two Champions Leagues and a Copa del Rey at Camp Nou.

The 39-year-old had a first-hand view of Messi's development from raw talent to world superstar and said it was a matter of time before he became one of the best on the planet.

Speaking courtesy of LaLiga, Eto'o said: "He would move between the B team and the first team, and he was very good.

"We already knew back then that Messi would one day be what he's become. I'm very happy because he's achieved that through his own hard work."

Eto'o says one of the most pleasing aspects of Messi's success is the way he has managed to stay grounded during a sensational career that has seen him become a six-time Ballon d'Or winner and doubts any player can better his achievements.

"He hasn't changed at all. He's still the good person that I knew back then and that I still know," he added.

"He recently said 'thanks to Samuel', thanks to my advice – that I won't reveal here – that his career changed. 

"Back then he had to iron out a few things but he's always had that talent. I'm proud and happy to see the story that he's written and that hasn't ended yet.

"It's going to be very difficult, impossible even, to surpass his legacy.

"The most important thing for me is his character. Everyone appreciates him, adores him as a player.

"But he's a wonderful guy and I'm proud to still be among his friends."

Former Republic of Ireland and Liverpool forward Michael Robinson has died aged 61 following a battle with skin cancer.

Robinson also represented Preston North End, Manchester City, Brighton and Hove Albion and Queens Park Rangers before moving to Osasuna for the final two and a half years of his playing career.

That paved the way for a move into punditry and broadcasting in Spain, where Robinson established himself as an authoritative and respected voice on the country's national sport.

He won 24 caps for Ireland, while a sole campaign at Anfield in 1983-84 saw him play a part in Division One, European Cup and League Cup glory.

"With tremendous sadness we inform you of Michael's death," a tweet posted to Robinson's official Twitter account on Tuesday read.

"It leaves us with a great emptiness, but also countless memories, full of the same love that you have shown him.

"We will be eternally grateful to you for making this man SO HAPPY, he never walked alone."

Robinson's standing within the Spanish football fraternity was quickly underlined as Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos offered "my love to your family and friends", while Barcelona paid tribute to "a person who loved football and who knew how to explain it with knowledge and ingenuity".

Federico Chiesa is a player in demand.

While Fiorentina would prefer to keep Chiesa, the Viola could cash-in on the Italy star.

Europe's elite from England and Italy are reportedly chasing Chiesa.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED BATTLE FOR CHIESA

Manchester United are among the clubs trying to sign Fiorentina attacker Federico Chiesa, reports Gazzetta dello Sport.

United, Premier League rivals Chelsea and Serie A duo Juventus and Inter are vying for Chiesa's signature.

The 22-year-old has also reportedly been offered a new bumper contract by Fiorentina.

 

ROUND-UP

- A reunion with former Eintracht Frankfurt team-mate Ante Rebic? Luka Jovic has struggled since swapping Eintracht for Real Madrid at the start of the season. Calciomercato claims Milan are interested in bringing Jovic to San Siro, where Rebic is on loan and reportedly set to make the move permanent. It comes amid doubts over Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future.

- RMC Sport says Paris Saint-Germain are interested in Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey, who has been linked to Arsenal.

Barcelona have made an approach to Ajax for goalkeeper Andre Onana, according to De Telegraaf. Onana spent five years in Barca's youth system before leaving in 2015 but the Cameroon international has been linked with a return. LaLiga champions Barca have reportedly offered Neto, Riqui Puig, Alex Collado or Carles Alena in a possible deal for Onana.

Donny van de Beek is free to choose his next step following the cancellation of the Eredivisie season. Mundo Deportivo reports the Ajax star is still being targeted by Madrid, while United and Juve are also monitoring the Netherlands international.

- According to The Sun, West Ham midfielder Declan Rice could be sold as part of a massive squad overhaul. The England international has been linked to Chelsea.

RB Leipzig are facing a difficult decision regarding star defender Dayot Upamecano, says BildThe centre-back has been linked to Arsenal, Tottenham, Barca and Bayern Munich but the coronavirus crisis is set to impact the transfer market and fees.

Sergio Aguero does not understand criticism directed at Lionel Messi for Argentina, insisting the superstar is the "first to suffer " and continues to make himself available for the national team.

Messi has won everything on offer during his time as a Barcelona player – the Champions League, LaLiga, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup, Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is yet to taste senior success in an Argentina jersey following a runners-up finish at the 2014 World Cup, having also reached back-to-back Copa America finals in 2015 and 2016.

Messi excluded himself from international selection after Argentina's last-16 exit at the 2018 World Cup, before returning and helping the country to the Copa America semi-final last year.

The 32-year-old continues to be criticised for his Argentina performances but countryman Aguero defended his team-mate.

"I do not understand those who criticise him in the national team," Aguero told TyC Sports. "He is the first to suffer and continues to come."

The coronavirus pandemic has brought sport to a standstill, with the Premier League and LaLiga among the leagues on hiatus, while the 2020 Copa America has been pushed back to next year.

The Premier League has been suspended since last month and it remains to be seen when, and if, the 2019-20 campaign will resume.

Manchester City star Aguero is contracted until 2021 and the Argentine forward has been linked with a return to boyhood club Independiente.

But Aguero does not know what the future holds, adding: "For now, I'm not thinking about what to do. With all this, the clubs are having problems.

"Up until next year it can be extended for two months or more. There are players who end contracts this year and if it is played in July, August or September, the clubs are going to have problems.

"I don't know if they can renew with players for three months or six. The first thing is to end this season and hit everything next."

Inter star Lautaro Martinez should reject a move to Barcelona as he would be a substitute at the LaLiga champions, according to Fabio Capello.

Martinez is reportedly Barca's prime transfer target as the Spanish giants look to sign a long-term replacement for veteran forward Luis Suarez.

Also linked to Real Madrid and Manchester City, Martinez had scored 16 goals in 31 games across all competitions before the coronavirus pandemic brought sport to a standstill.

But former Madrid, Milan and Juventus head coach Capello urged the Argentina international to remain at Inter.

"If it were me I'd stay at Inter," Capello told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"At Barcelona he'd be a substitute."

Martinez has a €111million release clause and Inter are unwilling to accept anything less amid Barca's reported interest.

But the COVID-19 crisis, which has wreaked havoc across the world, is set to impact football finances and the transfer market.

"The market will be revolutionised," Capello added. "Absurd numbers had been seen, but now we'll return to a more reasonable level.

"It seems to me that the only team in Spain who won't be destroyed by the pandemic are Real Madrid.

"Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are going to suffer a lot."

Barcelona striker Martin Braithwaite believes he will be one of LaLiga's top goalscorers when football returns as "nobody trains like I do".

The Denmark international was signed from Leganes for €18million in February after Quique Setien's side were granted special dispensation to bring in cover for the injured Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez.

Braithwaite played three league games for Barca without scoring before Spanish football was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the limitations of strict lockdown measures in Spain, Braithwaite says he has been keeping in good shape by supplementing the club's training plan for players with his own programme.

The 28-year-old hopes to be in prime condition when football resumes and expects to have plenty of chances to build on the six league goals he scored for Leganes this term.

"[Barcelona's plan] only makes up a third of my training," Braithwaite told DR. "That's because I've added a lot more to it.

"I exercise my speed and my stamina. I train in much more detail now than before, so I'll be back in much better physical shape.

"I know that there is no one who trains and works like I do. When I come back, I will be ready physically and mentally.

"When you play for Barcelona, you have so many chances. I see myself scoring a lot of goals and being one of the top scorers in the team and in the league."

LaLiga teams have been given the go-ahead to return to training, possibly as early as next month, provided they abide by government regulations on social distancing.

That followed a meeting between Spain's National Sports Council (CSD), LaLiga and the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

There are reports clubs and league officials are targeting a return to league matches in early June, but health minister Salvador Illa refused to offer any guarantees when speaking at the weekend.

"I cannot say if football is going to be able to restart its activity before summer. It would be imprudent of me to offer a definitive view," he said.

Rising Chelsea star Billy Gilmour says Barcelona midfield greats Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets have helped to shape his development.

Gilmour, 18, has caught the eye this season with impressive displays for the Blues, particularly against Liverpool in the FA Cup and on his full Premier League debut against Everton.

The midfielder, who was named man of the match in that 4-0 victory over the Toffees, says he has always been inspired by watching the style of play of some of Barca's finest footballers.

"When I was young, I used to watch Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – everyone did," he told Sky Sports. "But when I started to analyse my game and think about who I would like to progress to be like, it was more like Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Cesc Fabregas – it was those players.

"It was something about how they passed the ball, receiving the ball, everything was sharp. Sergio Busquets too; when you watch Barcelona and you watch Busquets individually, everything happens around him.

"Those are the kind of players I looked up to, getting on the ball and making things happen."

Gilmour left Rangers for Chelsea in 2017 and admits it was the Premier League club's long-term planning that convinced him it was the right move.

"At the time [of moving], I didn't really know what was going to happen," he said. "But when I went down, saw everything and they had a plan, it was unbelievable. It was a dream. I always wanted to go and play in the Premier League to test myself and see what my limit is.

"When I first came, I'd say I was more of an attacking midfielder, and then [assistant coach] Jody Morris turned me into a deeper player. To get on the ball and start play is best for me, but I am happy playing anywhere."

Speaking of his standout performance in the 2-0 win over Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, he added: "There were parts that I felt were difficult, but when I got on the ball I felt good. I had players running off, so it was making it easy for me.

"It was a great, great game so I was happy to play well. And then receiving the man of the match, it was amazing. I never thought of it, I just wanted to play the game well, not muck up anything, and play the game right.

"To get first-team experience against Liverpool, the best team in the world right now, felt good."

Neymar appears likely to remain at Paris Saint-Germain for another season, while Newcastle United have big plans.

Linked again with a return to Barcelona, Neymar could yet stay in Paris, where he is contracted 2022.

Meanwhile, Newcastle – reportedly on the verge of being taken over – are considering some big names.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR SET FOR PSG STAY AMID BARCELONA LINKS

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and troubles at Barcelona, Neymar looks set to stay at PSG for another season, according to Marca.

It also reported that Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is struggling to find the financial formula to sign the Brazil forward.

Neymar only arrived at PSG from Barca in a world-record €222million move in 2017.

ROUND-UP

- Newcastle could have money to spend if their proposed takeover goes through. Mundo Deportivo reports the club are looking at Barcelona attacker Philippe Coutinho, who it says is also a target for Everton. Foot Mercato claims Newcastle are eyeing PSG striker Edinson Cavani, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Real Betis forward Nabil Fekir.

- Like they are struggling with Neymar, Barcelona are battling to find a deal for Inter forward Lautaro Martinez, according to Sky Sport Italia, which says the LaLiga side are struggling to meet the Argentina international's €111m release clause.

- Paul Pogba's future remains a talking point. Tuttosport says Manchester United are open to an exchange deal with Juventus, with Aaron Ramsey and Douglas Costa among the players linked with a move to Old Trafford.

- Barcelona are still a long way off reaching an agreement with goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, according to Sport. Ter Stegen is contracted at Barca until 2022. Meanwhile, Sport reports Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana is prioritising a move to Barcelona if he leaves the Eredivisie giants.

- Perhaps Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will stay at Arsenal after all. Sport reports the forward, whose deal ends in 2021, will renew with the Premier League club. Staying at Arsenal and the Daily Express says Arsenal are considering a move for Barcelona attacker Ousmane Dembele.

- A youth product who has spent his entire professional career at Barcelona, Sergi Roberto has gone from untouchable to transferable, according to Marca.

Health minister Salvador Illa has refused to offer any guarantee the Spanish football season will resume before Spain's summer arrives.

Appearing at a government coronavirus briefing on Sunday, Illa spoke about the prospect of LaLiga returning.

There have been no Spanish top-flight games since early March, and although there are hopes matches could start from June, Illa was careful not to present any timeframe.

He said: "I cannot say if football is going to be able to restart its activity before summer. It would be imprudent of me to offer a definitive view."

LaLiga teams have been given the go-ahead to return to training, possibly as soon as early May, providing they abide by Spanish government protocols.

That decision was reached in a meeting last weekend between Spain's National Sports Council (CSD), the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and LaLiga.

However, staging games is clearly some way off, and it seems certain any resumption would mean fixtures being played initially behind closed doors.

Reports have suggested clubs and league officials could be targeting a return to action on June 6 or June 13; however, Illa's circumspection indicates Spain's reluctance to rush into any such decision.

Barcelona head the league table after 27 rounds of the 38-game season, two points clear of nearest rivals Real Madrid.

Spain has been severely hit by the pandemic, with the country suffering over 23,000 deaths.

Kylian Mbappe has been tipped to join fellow Frenchman Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid.

Madrid head coach Zidane has made no secret of his admiration for Mbappe.

However, Liverpool are reportedly launching an audacious bid for the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL CONTACT MBAPPE'S DAD

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has spoken to Kylian Mbappe's father about bringing the Paris Saint-Germain star to Anfield, according to Le10 Sport.

Mbappe has been tipped to join LaLiga giants Real Madrid in 2021 as PSG struggle to agree a new contract with the France forward.

Despite strong links to the Santiago Bernabeu, Champions League holders Liverpool are still chasing the 21-year-old.

 

ROUND-UP

Cristiano Ronaldo does not want to leave Juventus, says Tuttosport. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked to PSG, as well as former clubs Madrid and Manchester United.

Paulo Dybala to Inter? The Argentina star was linked to the Nerazzurri at the start of the season but remained at Juventus, where he has starred. However, Calciomercato says Inter are still interested in Dybala.

- The Mirror claims Borussia Dortmund have set their sights on Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka. The 18-year-old has also been linked to Liverpool and United.

Barcelona and Manchester City are eyeing Benfica defender Ruben Dias, reports Record. The 22-year-old has been offered to Barca as a possible long-term replacement for Samuel Umtiti, the report adds.

- Mundo Deportivo says Juve are pressing to sign in-demand Barca midfielder Arthur, who has been the subject of interest from Inter and Tottenham.

Arsenal have given up on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang re-signing with the Premier League club, according to the Daily Express. Inter are said to be the favourites to sign the Gabon forward.

- Real Madrid's Luka Jovic has emerged as an option for Milan amid doubts over Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future, says Calciomercato.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has expressed a long-standing desire to take Neymar to the Santiago Bernabeu, the Brazilian forward's former agent has claimed.

Agent Wagner Ribeiro spoke to ESPN's 'Canal do Nicola' show, where he said the Paris Saint-Germain and former Barcelona star had appealed to the Spanish capital giants for many years.

According to Ribeiro, he and Perez have spoken several times about Neymar, including in a meeting as recently as last year.

Ribeiro has been involved in deals to take several Brazilian players to Madrid, but Neymar has remained out of reach to the 13-time European champions.

It has been several years since Ribeiro represented 28-year-old Neymar, who has been managed by his father for much of the last decade.

Ribeiro and Neymar were together when Chelsea came after the then Santos forward in 2010, and Ribeiro claimed Bayern Munich and Juventus also showed strong interest before Neymar moved to Camp Nou.

"I went to Madrid several times, because Florentino had the dream of taking Neymar," Ribeiro said.

"Last year I was with him, in May, in his office, and he even told me that he still dreams of signing Neymar."

Neymar could now be bought from PSG for €164million, according to Ribeiro, who said he rates him more highly than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.

"He is much better," Ribeiro said. "I have never seen Neymar play badly. Every game he plays well."

Barcelona could keep Philippe Coutinho after all, while Gareth Bale is seemingly set to stay at Real Madrid.

Coutinho, who is on loan at Bayern Munich this season, has been heavily linked with a permanent move away from Barca.

Meanwhile, Bale is said to be considering his Madrid future, but could yet remain at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

TOP STORY – COUTINHO TO STAY AT BARCELONA

Barcelona coach Quique Setien has found a solution for Coutinho and could play the Brazil international in midfield, according to Marca.

The report says Setien has in mind an option of playing Coutinho as a number eight.

A playmaker, Coutinho has made 32 appearances in all competitions for Bayern this season.

ROUND-UP

- Linked with a move away, Bale is committed to staying at Real Madrid, according to AS, which also says the club have told forward Luka Jovic his future is at the Santiago Bernabeu.

- Barcelona are said to be chasing Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele. Sky Sports reports the LaLiga club have offered Spurs Samuel Umtiti and Nelson Semedo for Ndombele. The Mirror says Tottenham have no intention of selling the France international. Sport, meanwhile, says Barca want €45million for Semedo.

- Alexis Sanchez's future remains uncertain. The Sun says neither Manchester United nor Inter, where he is on loan this season, want the Chile international.

- Out of contract at Arsenal in 2021, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be set for an exit this close season. The Daily Mail reports the Premier League outfit are ready to listen to offers for the forward.

- Dries Mertens is set to attract plenty of interest with his Napoli contract expiring. The Mirror reports Chelsea want the forward, who is the Serie A club's equal all-time leading goalscorer.

- That could impact Olivier Giroud's future at Chelsea, where he is out of contract at season's end. The Mirror says Chelsea are ready to activate a one-year extension for the striker, while Tuttosport reports Inter are still considering the France forward.

Saturday should have seen Barcelona host Atletico Madrid in LaLiga and pit Antoine Griezmann against his old club once more.

Griezmann left Atleti for Camp Nou in the second most expensive transfer of the previous close season, his €120million move eclipsed only by Joao Felix, the man bought to replace him.

Neither player has exactly enjoyed a resoundingly triumphant season, which is an affliction to hit many of the top 10 most expensive transfers of 2019.

We look at each of those players and whether their signings have, until now, been a hit or a miss...

 

JOAO FELIX: Benfica to Atletico Madrid (€126m)

Benfica and Portugal's golden boy scored in pre-season victories over Juventus and Real Madrid to give Atleti fans reason to believe the post-Griezmann future was bright.

However, just six goals in 28 competitive appearances later, doubts have been growing as to whether the 20-year-old forward will ever truly suit Diego Simeone's system.

VERDICT: MISS

ANTOINE GRIEZMANN: Atletico Madrid to Barcelona (€120m)

Griezmann vowed to stay at Atletico in 2018 only to change his mind a year later, and his performances for Barca are in keeping with a man not quite at ease in his surroundings.

Only Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez better his goal involvements for the Blaugrana in LaLiga this term (eight goals and four assists), while he is second only to Messi for chances created (26), but fans were entitled to expect more from the club's latest mega-money forward.

VERDICT: MISS

EDEN HAZARD: Chelsea to Real Madrid (€100m)

Chelsea fans feared the worst when their star man was lost during a transfer embargo, but things have hardly gone swimmingly for Hazard at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Injury problems have restricted him to just nine starts and a solitary goal and assist in LaLiga. He has also only created 14 chances, as many as James Rodriguez (who has started just four league games) and Lucas Vazquez (who has started six).

VERDICT: MISS

HARRY MAGUIRE: Leicester City to Manchester United (€87m)

The world's most expensive central defender might not be thought of as the world's best, but that should not detract from his impact on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

He leads the way for duels won, aerial duels won, blocks and interceptions among United defenders in the Premier League this season, helping them to eight clean sheets. Oh, and he's already been made club captain.

VERDICT: HIT

MATTHIJS DE LIGT: Ajax to Juventus (€85m)

The most coveted centre-back of the window after Ajax's remarkable Champions League run, De Ligt delivered a dreadful performance on his Juventus debut in a 4-3 win over Napoli.

He has won the most aerial duels and has the pass success rate of any Juve defender to feature more than five times in Serie A this term, but there are already doubts about his long-term suitability to Maurizio Sarri's side.

VERDICT: MISS

LUCAS HERNANDEZ: Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich (€80m)

Bayern smashed their transfer record to sign defender Hernandez, but injuries have made it difficult to assess whether the money will prove to be well-spent.

A knee problem in September was followed by a serious ankle injury that kept him out for nearly four months, meaning he has started only nine games in all competitions for the Bundesliga champions.

VERDICT: MISS

NICOLAS PEPE: Lille to Arsenal (€80m)

Pepe was something of a symbol of Unai Emery's problematic final few weeks in charge as he struggled badly to find form for the Gunners.

He has certainly shown signs of improvement in 2020 – only Mesut Ozil (38) has created more chances in the league than Pepe (34) for Arsenal – but fans will have hoped for more from their record signing.

VERDICT: MISS

FRENKIE DE JONG: Ajax to Barcelona (€75m)

Another Ajax star who became coveted by clubs across Europe last year, De Jong opted for Barca and immediately became a regular in midfield.

He has not quite adapted to life in LaLiga - Ernesto Valverde's exit and Quique Setien's arrival as coach did not help - but, in turbulent times for the club, he looks to be a safe bet as the beating heart of Barca for years to come: he had created more chances (24) than any other Barca midfielder this term and only Sergio Busquets has more recoveries and interceptions.

VERDICT: HIT

RODRI: Atletico Madrid to Manchester City (€70m)

Manchester City's record signing has proved a smart bit of a business given midfield-anchor supreme Fernandinho has spent much of this season in defence.

Rodri has attempted more passes (1,996), recorded a better passing accuracy (92 per cent) and more recoveries (181) than any other City midfielder in 2019-20. He looks very much at home in Pep Guardiola's system.

VERDICT: HIT

ROMELU LUKAKU: Manchester United to Inter (€65m)

Lukaku's move to Inter seems to have been that rarity in modern-day transfers: a deal that has worked out well for everyone concerned.

United's attack is taking the more fluid shape Solskjaer wants, Antonio Conte at last got the forward he tried to bring to Juventus and Chelsea, and Lukaku has looked in the form of his career, with 17 goals and two assists in Serie A as part of a fearsome partnership with Lautaro Martinez.

VERDICT: HIT

Barcelona are not negotiating deals for Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar or Inter forward Lautaro Martinez, according to LaLiga president Javier Tebas.

The LaLiga giants have been heavily linked with moves for Neymar and Martinez amid growing speculation they could land both – or at least one – of the stars.

However, Tebas played down the rumours, saying Barca had other priorities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's not true that Barca are currently in negotiation processes in the signing of these two players," he told the Adea Conecta forum on Friday.

"They are most focused on when the season can resume as opposed to new acquisitions. There will be swap deals in the short-term future, but transfers are not high on the priority of European clubs at present.

"They want to limit the damage caused by the halt in activity, but everything is still on hold. No Neymar nor Lautaro, these names are not high on the priority list at present for Barca."

Tebas added: "The club at present don't have the capacity to make these signings, at present it's completely impossible."

The LaLiga season was suspended last month due to coronavirus, which has killed more than 22,500 people in Spain.

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