When it came to Paul Pogba during the transfer window, Real Madrid and Juventus were the teams on everyone's lips.

Manchester United star Pogba was reportedly keen to leave Old Trafford in search of a new challenge.

However, another team were apparently poised to lure Pogba from the Theatre of Dreams…

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR STOPPED PSG FROM SIGNING POGBA

Neymar prevented Manchester United midfielder Pogba from moving to Paris Saint-Germain, according to Calciomercato.it.

PSG and United reportedly had an agreement in place for the transfer of Pogba, however, the Ligue 1 champions and their inability to offload Barcelona target Neymar stopped the deal.

The report says PSG were ready to pay €150million (£134m) for Pogba, who joined United from Juventus in 2016 for a then-record fee of €105m (£89m).

 

ROUND-UP

Real Madrid have an agreement with Chelsea for midfielder N'Golo Kante. DefensaCentral claims Los Blancos have the first chance to buy the France star should he be made available at Stamford Bridge.

- In-demand Dinamo Zagreb star Dani Olmo wants to leave the Croatian club in January or at the end of the season, according to Fichajes.net. The 21-year-old was linked with Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Atletico Madrid and Valencia during the transfer window.

Juventus have not given up on signing Fiorentina and Italy forward Federico Chiesa, according to Calciomercato.it. The Serie A champions were keen to bring in Chiesa during the off-season but were unable to lure him from Florence.

- Sport says Paris Saint-Germain are beginning their remodelling job, with Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani facing uncertain futures. Silva and Cavani – who has been linked to incoming MLS outfit Inter Miami – are out of contract at the end of the season and are no guarantees to renew their contracts. Eric Maxim Choupo-MotingThomas Meunier and Layvin Kurzawa are available at the right price in January.

- Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic has turned down a move to Qatari outfit Al-Gharafa, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Mandzukic was linked to Manchester United prior to the transfer window closing.

Barcelona director Javier Bordas said the LaLiga champions will do what they can to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou.

Neymar wanted to leave Paris Saint-Germain prior to the transfer deadline and was reportedly desperate for a Barca return, though a move did not materialise.

It came just two years after Neymar left Barca for Ligue 1 giants PSG in a world-record €222million deal.

Neymar's father and agent has already claimed negotiations between Barca and PSG are not over amid ongoing speculation.

Bordas kept the door open, telling EFE: "While he wants to come, we will do what we can to bring him back.

"What happens will happen, everything is constantly changing in football, but Neymar is Neymar.

"The case of Neymar is a special one. He's an exceptional player and he wants to come to Barcelona; he hasn't adapted to Paris; he was wrong to go there, and even he has said that."

The future of Barcelona's superstar captain Lionel Messi has also dominated headlines.

Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed reports that Messi has the option to leave the club at the end of the season.

Messi signed his latest contract in 2017, with the deal running until the end of the 2020-21 campaign.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked with a move to MLS via David Beckham's incoming franchise Inter Miami but Bordas said: "I don't see him at another club. There are few people more connected to Barcelona than Messi.

"Messi is from Barcelona [having moved as a child and spent most of his life there]. Messi is Barcelona.

"People are worried about his contract clause, but Messi will stay because he is at home here, he feels it; he comes from La Masia, you only have to look at him when a match has been lost."

Barca vice-president Jordi Cardoner, meanwhile, added: "We are calm and there is a lot of positivity, especially in the dressing room.

"Leo will do what he thinks is fit, but Leo's contract is very special because he is who he is. It's a concession made to him and other players who deserve it. He can enter and leave the club when he sees fit. I'd love for him to stay for as long as he wants to play for our team."

Lionel Messi said he does not know if Barcelona did everything possible to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou as he appeared to take aim at the LaLiga giants.

Neymar wanted to leave Paris Saint-Germain prior to the transfer deadline and was reportedly desperate for a Barca return, though a move did not materialise.

It came just two years after Neymar left Barca for Ligue 1 giants PSG in a world-record €222million deal.

Barca captain Messi was asked about the transfer pursuit and he told SPORT: "I don't know if Barca did everything possible for his return.

"But it is true that negotiating with PSG is not easy."

"I would have loved for Neymar to return," Messi added. "He is one of the best players in the world and at the image level and sponsors we would have taken a leap that would have given us stability."

Amid reports Messi and his team-mates asked for Barca to re-sign Neymar, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner said: "In the locker room we never asked for Ney's signing.

"We gave our opinion, but it has become clear that despite what they say, I do not command."

Neymar – who has three years remaining on his PSG contract – is yet to feature for Thomas Tuchel's side this season.

The 27-year-old, however, made his first appearance of the campaign for Brazil during the international break.

Neymar made a goalscoring return in Brazil's 2-2 draw with Colombia last week, while he came off the bench in Tuesday's 1-0 defeat to Peru in Los Angeles.

PSG return to Ligue 1 action at home to Strasbourg on Saturday, while Messi's Barcelona host Valencia on the same day.

Ousmane Dembele is "still like a child" and needs guidance in order to fulfil his potential, according to former Barcelona team-mate Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Boateng spent the latter part of the 2018-19 season playing alongside Dembele at Camp Nou while on loan from Sassuolo and he opened up about the France international's temperament in an interview with Bild.

Dembele has earned a reputation for his poor timekeeping having been suspended for Barcelona's defeat to Real Betis last season after missing a training session and France coach Didier Deschamps publicly lambasted him, saying: "I know about his excuses when he turns up late."

Barcelona stuck by the 22-year-old in the face of speculation that he might leave the club, for whom he scored eight goals in 29 LaLiga appearances last season, but Boateng urged the Blaugrana to nurture his talent.

"He is very calm, and does not talk much," Boateng told Bild.

"He is still like a child to me. You have to take him as he is and it may be that he arrives late.

"There are players who do that in defiance, but that's different with him. He's just like a little boy – one who earns a lot of money, one who is extremely public."

Boateng's stay with the LaLiga champions was short-lived and he made just three league appearances during a five-month spell at the club.

In contrast, Dembele is someone Barca coach Ernesto Valverde and president Josep Maria Bartomeu seem keen to keep hold of as he embarks upon his third season in Catalonia.

Boateng warned Barcelona: "You have to point him in the right direction. If he does not learn then it is his fault.

"For me, he's still a little boy who was thrown into this huge pool, suddenly costing 150 million euros overnight and somehow does not even know how everything works – because he just wants to play football."

Tite insists the changes he made to the Brazil team against Peru were not to protect players for club duty as he instead used the opportunity to assess his squad.

Neymar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva and Arthur and all dropped to the bench, having started the 2-2 draw against Colombia, and Brazil saw their 17-match unbeaten run ended in Los Angeles.

Luis Abram scored the only goal with an 85th-minute header for Peru, by which point Neymar had been introduced as a substitute.

Tite defended his team selection, though, insisting it was important to look at some new players following the Copa America, with Vinicius Junior making his debut.

"The most important thing was the team," Tite said. "The opportunities and changes were what I understood to be best in the moment, not to protect the players on the return to their clubs.

"I made the changes thinking about the Selecao.

"After the Copa America, another stage of opportunities began. It is only natural that we would not reach the same level of performance. I like to give opportunities to play - this is fundamental."

Meanwhile, Tite followed Fagner and Marquinhos in criticising the LA Memorial Coliseum pitch, which had been used by Argentina and Chile on Thursday.

"The pitch influences performance, this can't happen," he said. "There are risks of injuries.

"There is no excuse for defeat, I don't want to say that. Do not take only part of what I am saying. The opponent had a strategy and won.

"But this cannot happen in high level football. You can't have the field in this condition."

David Beckham and Inter Miami have set their sights on Lionel Messi.

Messi, 32, has regularly been linked with one day switching to MLS and it appears Inter are making their move.

Beckham seems to be trying his best to land the Barcelona superstar.

 

TOP STORY – BECKHAM IN TALKS WITH MESSI OVER INTER MIAMI MOVE

Beckham has spoken to Messi about joining Inter Miami, according to Catalunya Radio.

It comes in the wake of reports the forward can leave Barcelona at the end of any season, regardless of when his contract runs until.

The economic bid for Messi would be "brutal", the report said, as Inter look to sign the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

ROUND-UP

- Inter Miami may not stop there. The MLS club, due to begin playing in 2020, are also eyeing Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, according to AS. Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti has previously said he is open to coaching Inter Miami.

- After the latest transfer saga ended with Neymar staying at Paris Saint-Germain, it is set to come back to life in January. PSG sporting director Leonardo wants the Brazil international to leave the Ligue 1 champions, according to Tuttosport, and a move could happen in January, with Barcelona and Real Madrid sure to again be linked.

- Barcelona are already looking ahead and are set to track Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz throughout this season, Mundo Deportivo reports. Fabian joined the Serie A side from Real Betis for a reported €30million in July last year.

- Expecting their transfer ban to be cut, Chelsea have identified Nice defender Youcef Atal as a target, according to The Sun. The Algeria international is also wanted by Valencia, Calciomercato.com reports.

- AC Milan have identified Stade Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga as a player to follow, according to Calciomercato.com. The 16-year-old made seven Ligue 1 appearances last season.

- Gonzalo Higuain is continuing to turn around his career at Juventus. Calciomercato.com says the forward – linked with a move away throughout the close season – will start alongside Cristiano Ronaldo when the Serie A champions face Fiorentina on Saturday.

Luis Abram was the hero as Peru exacted some revenge over Brazil with a 1-0 victory in a rematch of the Copa America final.

Brazil claimed their ninth Copa America title by beating Peru 3-1 in South America's showpiece tournament decider in July.

But defender Abram's 85th-minute header saw Peru past Brazil in Los Angeles on Tuesday, while condemning the Selecao to their first defeat since the 2018 World Cup.

Neymar started on the bench as Tite made four changes to his line-up that drew 2-2 against Colombia, with David Neres, Eder Militao and Allan coming in for the PSG star, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva and Arthur.

It was a scrappy match on a pitch that still showed the marks of American football in Los Angeles, where NFL franchise the Rams and the NCAA's USC Trojans are tenants.

While there was plenty of energy and endeavour from Peru, chances were few and far between in the first half – Edison Flores' volley in the 23rd minute the closest either team went to breaking the deadlock.

After Neres went down inside the area under a risky challenge from captain Luis Advincula amid appeals for a penalty, Flores then produced an instinctive volley to force Brazil goalkeeper Ederson into a save.

There was a nasty clash of heads between Brazil team-mates Casemiro and Neres just past the half-hour mark, but both players managed to play on.

Pedro Gallese came to Peru's rescue four minutes into the second half. Richarlison played a delightful throughball to Allan but the goalkeeper was quick off his mark to deny the Brazil midfielder his first international goal.

A drilled effort from Philippe Coutinho caused problems for Gallese just past the hour-mark before Neymar's introduction, and while the latter provided some spark, there was to be no breakthrough for Brazil.

Just as the match looked to be petering out for a draw, a delightful free-kick from Yoshimar Yotun picked out Abram, whose deft touch beat Ederson and found the back of the net.

 

What does it mean? Peru end Brazil's unbeaten run

Since losing to Belgium in the World Cup quarter-finals last year, Brazil had gone 17 matches without defeat. However, that impressive run came to a shock end in LA.

Abram opens account in style

Making his 17th appearance, Abram emerged the unlikely hero for Peru. His late header not only silenced Brazil but saw the 23-year-old celebrate his first international goal.

Neymar poised for Selecao century

After marking his first appearance back with a goal and an assist against Colombia last time out, Neymar was a second-half substitute in LA. The 27-year-old's appearance, though, was his 99th on the international stage – moving him clear of Ronaldo and Djalma Santos for seventh in the all-time Brazil standings, still well adrift of Cafu's appearance record of 142.

What's next?

Brazil will return to action in October with a friendly against Thailand in Singapore and another fixture that is yet to be determined. Peru, meanwhile, are set to take on Uruguay in a pair of friendlies next month.

Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona may yet seal a deal for Neymar as negotiations are not over, according to the forward's father and agent.

Neymar was strongly linked with a return to Camp Nou before the European transfer window closed this month.

The Brazil superstar was said to be keen to go back to Barca two years after controversially leaving for a world-record €222million.

PSG sporting director Leonardo confirmed Neymar wanted to leave the club and was available for transfer if the right offer was made.

But Barca and PSG were unable to come to an agreement, with LaLiga giants Real Madrid also reportedly seeing offers rejected.

Neymar, who has three years remaining on his PSG contract, has yet to play for the Ligue 1 champions this term.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel said he would not select the 27-year-old until his future was resolved.

Neymar Sr, though, has cast fresh doubt on his son's long-term future in the French capital.

"The negotiations between clubs are not over," he said in an appearance at Edinburgh Sports Conference. 

"A Brazilian just wants to be where he is happy and he was very happy at Barcelona. When his friends asked him if he want to go back, it upset him."

Barca reportedly made cash-plus-players bids to PSG in a bid to force a move through, with Ousmane Dembele and Ivan Rakitic among those said to have been offered.

"As an agent, you feel weak when there is no structure that allows you to come and go," added Neymar's father.

"There was no release clause in his contract and this makes things very difficult.

"We fought to find an agreement. We gave the best of ourselves for him."

Brazil head coach Tite refused to reveal whether or not he has given life advice to Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar following a turbulent off-season.

Neymar scored his first goal of the season for club or country as Brazil drew 2-2 with South American rivals Colombia in an international friendly on Friday.

His goalscoring display came after the 27-year-old forward – yet to play for PSG this season – was unable to secure a return to LaLiga champions Barcelona prior to the transfer deadline.

Neymar was the topic of conversation again as Brazil prepare to face Peru in a rematch of the Copa America final and Tite told reporters on Monday: "Whatever is good for Neymar, I will never say publicly.

"But we can do it here in the national team. In the areas that are competent to us, the 10 days we are here, we always try to create situations that are good for him and for selection.

"Not primarily for one or the other. Because I also understand that he is top three worldwide."

Brazil beat Peru 3-1 in the Copa America final in July and the two nations will meet again in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Previewing the clash, Tite said: "If I were on the side of the Peruvian national team, I would have a feeling of revenge but with loyalty.

"They don't have to beat us up but play to show that they are better. We have to play a great game, since we have been working under pressure

"The ideal would be to have friendly against European teams, but there is a calendar problem and sometimes it is incompatible."

EA Sports has revealed the 10 highest-rated players on FIFA 20 ahead of the game's release later this month, with Lionel Messi back on top after Cristiano Ronaldo ranked first last year.

Messi enjoyed another stellar campaign for Barcelona in 2018-19, scoring 36 goals in 34 LaLiga matches, inspiring the club's title defence and run to the Champions League semi-finals.

Ronaldo's first season at Juventus – who will be known as Piemonte Calcio on FIFA 20 – went as smoothly as might have been expected, with the forward finishing as the club's top-scorer as they claimed an eighth successive Scudetto, though that was not enough to retain his crown as FIFA's highest-rated player.

Neither Ronaldo nor Messi were able to win the Champions League, however, with that honour falling to Liverpool, who have two representatives in the top 10.

Find out who they are and which other players join Messi and Ronaldo in the 10 below.

10. Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona – 90

Germany international Ter Stegen has developed into one of the globe's most well-rounded goalkeepers after an initially slow start to life at Camp Nou. He is one of three players with a rating of 90, making him the second best keeper on the game.

9. Luka Modric, Real Madrid – 90

Last year's Ballon d'Or winner, Modric's 2019 has not been particularly outstanding, as he has found himself out of the Madrid team a little more due to suspect form. He may be down one rating point from FIFA 19, but he still reaches 90.

8. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool – 90

A crucial part of Liverpool's Champions League winning side, Salah has truly established himself as one the world's primary stars over the last couple of years. He was not even in the top 20 in FIFA 19, however.

7. Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool – 91

The most important player in Liverpool's Champions League success? Until recently the most expensive defender ever, Van Dijk's influence on the Reds is undeniable. That is reflected in the fact he will be FIFA 20's best defender.

6. Jan Oblak, Atletico Madrid – 91

Widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world for his quality and consistency, Oblak replaces David de Gea – who had a shaky 2018-19 – as the top-ranked keeper on FIFA.

5. Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City – 91

Even though injuries have plagued De Bruyne in recent times, robbing him of a chunk of last season, the Belgium star remains one of most highly regarded players on the game, with the City star beginning 2019-20 in ominous fashion.

4. Eden Hazard, Real Madrid – 91

After helping Chelsea to Europa League success, enjoying a generally fine individual campaign as the Premier League's most creative player with 15 assists, he earned his dream move to Real Madrid. He's yet to feature due to injury, but he'll be hopeful of elevating himself to the next level now.

3. Neymar, Paris Saint-Germain – 92

Perhaps a controversial choice to some, Neymar missed a big part of last season through injury and only won Ligue 1 and the Trophee des Champions, as he was also absent for Brazil's Copa America success. Nevertheless, his skill is undoubtable and he comes in at number three.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Piemonte Calcio (Juventus) – 93

The best-ranked player on FIFA 19, Ronaldo's rating drops one to 93 despite enjoying a solid season in Serie A. Cynics might suggest Juve's exclusivity deal with FIFA rival Pro Evolution Soccer has something to do with it.

1.Lionel Messi, Barcelona – 94

The world's best player comes in at number one with a rating of 94 after he enjoyed another spell-binding season on all fronts, impressing even though Barca failed in the Champions League.

Samuel Umtiti laughed off rumours raising him as a makeweight in a potential Barcelona deal for Neymar as he rejected reports linking him to Arsenal.

The France international's future at Camp Nou came into question following an injury hit 2018-19 season in which he managed 14 LaLiga appearances.

With Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet established at centre-back, Barca reportedly considered bundling 25-year-old Umtiti into negotiations for former player and Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar.

The purported offer would also have seen at least two of Philippe Coutinho, now at Bayern Munich on a season-long loan, Ousmane Dembele and Ivan Rakitic head to Parc des Princes.

"Me? Currency in an exchange? It's crazy," Umtiti told Canal+.

"That made me laugh. I do not even have an answer to that."

The transfer window ended on September 2 with Neymar and Umtiti still at their respective clubs following months of speculation.

Arsenal and Manchester United, along with PSG, were mentioned as alternative destinations for the defender had he been eager to explore his options after three seasons at Barca.

Umtiti denied ever being interested in a move elsewhere, claiming the Arsenal link came as a surprise.

"I do not know where this rumour came from," the World Cup winner said.

"Overnight I started receiving messages from my friends... but sorry, for me Barcelona is Barcelona.

"I had discussions with my agent to tell him that whatever was happening he did not even need to talk to me about it.

"My goal since I was a kid was to play for Barcelona. I came here to last and to win titles."

Umtiti left France's camp over the weekend after suffering a foot injury prior to the Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Albania.

It is the latest in a series of setbacks which led him to Qatar in November in search of a solution to ongoing knee discomfort.

"I really forced my knee during the World Cup," he admitted. "But I'm world champion. In life you have to make choices and I do not regret that choice."

Brazil coach Tite rued not giving Vinicius Junior his international debut in Friday's friendly against Colombia, owing the decision to Neymar displaying "perfect" body language upon his return.

Real Madrid talent Vinicius has long been tipped to make the breakthrough at senior level for Brazil, having sparkled in his fledgling career with Flamengo and then last season in Spain.

Injury denied him a first cap in March after he was called up for matches against Panama and Czech Republic, while he failed to make the cut for Tite's Copa America squad.

Tite planned to let the 19-year-old feature as Brazil drew 2-2 with Carlos Queiroz's Colombia, but instead opted to keep Neymar – playing his first match for club or country in three months – on the pitch in an attempt to maximise the Paris Saint-Germain star's fitness.

"Vinicius was ready to enter," Tite told reporters. "The idea was to for him to come on, but circumstances change.

"He will have his chance. Of course, he will be used as a left winger. Playing in the national team is already complicated, the yellow shirt weighs on anyone.

"So, in the case of Vinicius, I will put him in his natural position, where he is accustomed and feels comfortable.

"The plan was not that Neymar played 90 minutes, he came from more than three months without playing, and I was about to take him off three times during the second half, but he was improving technically and physically as the minutes passed.

"I was talking with Dr. Rodrigo Lasmar and our physio during the match and we decided to leave him on the pitch.

"I don't think he expected me to play him for 90 minutes, I saw him look at the bench a couple of times, but his body language was perfect, he was not tired and there was no point in taking him out.

"The level of the game was so high and I saw the team at such a good pace that I didn't want to make any more changes."

Neymar scored Brazil's second goal, after a Luis Muriel brace had cancelled out Casemiro's headed opener.

Brazil are next in action against Peru on Wednesday.

Brazil coach Tite admitted Neymar's performance in the 2-2 draw with Colombia surprised him as he revealed he has a "relationship of truth and loyalty" with the unsettled forward.

After a move from Paris Saint-Germain to Barcelona failed to materialise in the transfer window, fit-again Neymar played for the first time in three months in Brazil's friendly at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami.

He made an impact 19 minutes into the game when his corner teed up Casemiro to give Brazil the lead and, though Colombia turned the game on its head with two goals in nine first-half minutes, Neymar side-footed an equaliser into the net after the break.

Tite said he considered substituting the 27-year-old but instead allowed him to play the full 90 minutes, having been impressed with Neymar's display.

"I said, 'I'll take him off' for the sake of physical preservation," Tite told reporters after the game.

"But I saw that his physical responses were strong, intense, and coordinated. I could see him growing.

"As the end of the game approached he produced more and more. He keeps his technique light and creates space. He was above my expectation."

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel has yet to include Neymar in any of his four matchday squads in Ligue 1 this season, but Tite gave a glowing assessment of the forward's condition.

"We talked yesterday about monitoring the performance of Neymar from 45 minutes," he said. "A player starts thinking and cannot perform [when fatigued]. But he was thinking and performing. It surprised me."

After scoring Brazil's second goal, Neymar wrapped his arms around the Brazil coach, who said the pair enjoy a strong working relationship at a time when the forward's career is in a tumultuous phase.

"It is a reaction of true loyalty," said Tite. "We have a relationship of truth and loyalty. We say what we think is right, what is wrong.

"It is a transparent relationship. I don't analyse other facts, other situations. But I can say that we have a real relationship."

Dani Alves described playing with Neymar as a joyous experience after the Brazil star scored on his long-awaited return to the pitch.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward set aside three months of injury issues and transfer speculation as he made his first appearance of the season in the Selecao's 2-2 friendly draw against Colombia in Florida on Friday.

Though relatively quiet in the first half, he delivered the corner from which Casemiro opened the scoring and later preserved his side's unbeaten streak by side-footing home in the 58th minute.

Luis Muriel scored a brace in between for Colombia, but Neymar's influential outing grabbed attention in the wake of his failed move back to Barcelona.

"It's always a joy to have Ney doing what he knows best, enjoying himself and doing his best for the national team," the experienced Alves told Globo.

"We have affection for him and when he is focused his level is very high.

"Let's let him do what he can do, which is to play football. We're here to help him."

The warmth with which Brazil's players greeted Neymar's return was not shared by Colombia, who fouled the PSG star four times.

One notable shove from Davinson Sanchez ended with the 27-year-old Neymar flying into the advertising board.

Goalscorer and Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro, recipient of the game's only yellow card for a first-half tackle on striker Muriel, was unimpressed with the opposition's approach.

"Guys come to play against Brazil and want to intimidate, putting their hands on us, talking, wanting to hit us," Casemiro said.

"You have to win on the ball. They have their tactics and we have ours. When it comes to Brazil there are no friendlies.

"Teams are always strong against us, so we have to play hard.

"I took the yellow [for the challenge on Muriel] and I apologised."

Neymar scored and set up another as the Brazil star made his long-awaited return in the South American champions' 2-2 friendly draw with Colombia.

An ankle injury had sidelined Neymar since June and forced the Paris Saint-Germain forward to miss Brazil's successful Copa America campaign as he eyed a return to Barcelona.

Neymar – who was unable to engineer a Barca comeback – made his first appearance of the season for either club or country in Miami on Friday, setting up Casemiro's opener before equalising in the 58th minute.

Luis Muriel's first-half brace cancelled out Casemiro's 19th-minute goal but Neymar came to the rescue 13 minutes into the second half as Tite's men extended their unbeaten run.

While Brazil welcomed back Neymar, Colombia were without star duo James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao – who joined Turkish giants Fenerbahce prior to the transfer deadline – due to injury.

But Colombia made a lively start and were the better of the two teams as Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina came close to opening the scoring.

Neymar was relatively subdued in the first half however he provided the cross from a corner for Casemiro to head Brazil into a 19th-minute lead – the Real Madrid midfielder rising highest to beat David Ospina.

Brazil's lead was short-lived as Colombia equalised five minutes later through Muriel, who converted a penalty after being struck by Alex Sandro's high boot.

Richarlison had a good chance to restore Brazil's advantage but the Everton star's curling effort went just wide of the far post approaching the half-hour mark.

Colombia found the back of the net in the 30th minute but it was ruled out for offside, though it mattered little as Muriel struck four minutes later.

A great break from Roger Martinez saw Duvan Zapata receive the ball and play it out wide to Muriel, who fired past Brazil goalkeeper Ederson, before Ospina preserved Colombia's buffer by rushing out to thwart Richarlison.

Brazil returned to the pitch with renewed optimism and almost restored parity seven minutes into the second half but Philippe Coutinho's effort flashed just wide of the post following a terrific piece of skill to control the ball.

Coutinho was at the heart of the Selecao's 58th-minute equaliser after the Bayern Munich loanee picked out Dani Alves with a stunning pass from the half-way line as the latter squared a ball across the six-yard box for Neymar to side-foot into an empty net.

 

What does it mean? Brazil stay unbeaten

Tite's Brazil were not at their brilliant best, but they did enough to make it 17 matches without defeat. It is a streak dating back to the nation's 2018 World Cup elimination at the hands of Belgium.

Neymar fit and closing in on record

After months of speculation and fitness issues, Neymar returned to the field and he was influential in the draw. The 27-year-old scored his 61st goal in 98 international appearances – moving within one of second-placed Ronaldinho as Pele (77) continues to hold Brazil's record.

Muriel stakes his claim in Falcao's absence

Muriel had only managed three international goals for Colombia, dating back to his first in February 2013. However, the 28-year-old almost doubled that tally against Brazil. After scoring a brace in Atalanta's Serie A opener on August 27, Muriel is emerging as a key player for club and country.

What's next?

Brazil will face Peru in a rematch of the Copa America final on Tuesday, while Colombia meet Venezuela on the same day.

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