Brazil do not want to play the suspended World Cup qualifier against Argentina due to risks ahead of Qatar 2022, with the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS) to rule later in August.

The Selecao, along with the Albiceleste, both comfortably qualified for Qatar 2022 despite the September fixture in Sao Paulo being halted after six minutes when Brazilian health officials objected to the participation of four Argentinian players who they claimed broke quarantine rules.

The officials sensationally entered the pitch to remove those four players, with the Argentinian players subsequently walking off amid the chaos. The fixture was suspended.

FIFA fined both national bodies and insisted that the qualifier needed to be completed despite its irrelevance to qualifying.

The Brazil Football Confederation (CBF) and the Argentine Football Association (AFA) took the case to the CAS, who will rule later this month.

No date has been set by FIFA for the fixture, but it is anticipated it will be in September.

CBF president Ednaldo Rodrigues said the national team did not want to play the fixture two months out from the World Cup due to risks with injuries and suspensions along with a possible Argentinian boycott.

"We will reach out to FIFA so this match is not played," Rodrigues said in a statement.

"I will make every effort to answer to the request of our coaching staff.

"Our priority is to win a sixth World Cup in Qatar. If that match is not recommended by the coaching staff of the Selecao, we will work for it not to be played."

Bournemouth have announced the free transfer signing of goalkeeper Neto, following the veteran's release from Barcelona.

The 33-year-old, who has also played with Juventus and Valencia, arrives on a year-long deal at Vitality Stadium as the Cherries' fourth signing of the window following their return to the Premier League.

The Brazilian will wear the number 13 jersey for Scott Parker's side and will provide competition for Mark Travers and Will Dennis.

"To be able to attract a player of Neto's calibre is very pleasing," chief executive Neill Blake stated. "This is a real coup for the club and we're delighted he has chosen to join us.

"He has vast experience at the very top level of the game so I'm sure he will be a huge asset for us."

A Serie A, Coppa Italia and Copa del Rey winner across his career, Neto has often played as a back-up option for other keepers, particularly during his time at Juventus and Barcelona.

He made more appearances in two years at Valencia than in five combined between the Bianconeri and Blaugrana, and was capped once by Brazil, in 2018 against El Salvador in a friendly.

Neto follows Joe Rothwell, Ryan Fredericks and Marcus Tavernier through the door on the south coast, as the club look to ensure they stay up following promotion from the Championship last term.

Bournemouth started their attempt to do so with a 2-0 home win against Aston Villa on Saturday.

Brazil emerged victorious as Copa America Feminina champions after a hard-fought 1-0 win against Colombia on Saturday, played in Colombia.

The only goal of the game came from the penalty spot, with Brazil's Debinha making no mistake in the 39th minute.

With the goal, Debinha finished tied for second in the tournament's Golden Boot race, as she and teammate Adriana Maga finished with five goals each, one behind Argentina's Yamila Rodriguez.

The victory puts the finishing touches on a remarkable run from the Brazilians, not conceding a single goal in the tournament, while winning their six matches by a combined score of 20-0.

There was plenty of attacking from both sides – with Colombia attempting 21 shots while Brazil had 15 – but the winning side was credited with all four 'big chances', and were on the right side of the expected goal count 1.65 to 0.97.

Brazil will play the winner of the Women's European Championships in a Finalissima on a date yet to be confirmed.

Raphinha has thanked Marcelo Bielsa for setting him on the road to stardom with Barcelona and Brazil after their time working together at Leeds United.

Tricky winger Raphinha's form for Leeds in the 2021-22 campaign in particular earned him his first caps for Brazil and ultimately led to a big-money switch to Barcelona this month.

The 25-year-old contributed to 29 Premier League goals for Leeds – five more than any team-mate – with his goal involvements helping to keep them in the division last season.

Across his 19 months in England's top flight, only Tottenham's Son Heung-min (131) created more chances than Raphinha's tally of 129, highlighting his creativity.

Raphinha thrived in Bielsa's physically demanding system, and also impressed under the Argentine coach's successor Jesse Marsh in the back end of the previous campaign.

Having now cemented his place in the Brazil squad ahead of the World Cup, and hit the ground running with new club Barca, Raphinha remains indebted to Bielsa.

"He is a coach who helped me a lot from the first moment I arrived at Leeds," Raphinha told Mundo Deportivo. 

"He always demands more, always demands maximum performance. He helped me get to the national team and helped me get to Barca. 

"If it wasn't for his teachings, as a group or individually, I probably wouldn't be here."

 

Raphinha spent only one season at Sporting CP and Rennes before heading to Leeds in October 2020.

Now at a fourth club in as many years, the Porto Alegre native has already made himself a fan favourite with his winning goal in this week's friendly against Real Madrid.

"I hope it'll be the first of many Clasico goals," Raphinha said. "Being a Clasico, it gave me a unique sensation, one that's difficult to explain. It made me very happy."

Barcelona new signing Raphinha believes the club's system favours his style of play, after he shone on his debut in a 6-0 win over Inter Miami. 

The Brazilian winger played the first half against the MLS side, scoring Barca's second goal and assisting two more, describing it as "one of the best" debuts he has ever had. 

Raphinha arrived from Leeds United in one of the Blaugrana's bigger deals of this transfer window, and immediately looked at home in their colours in Florida.

With the promise of a restorative campaign ahead at Camp Nou this term, the Selecao star does not fear that adapting to life at the club will be a problem, saying his approach to the game slots in neatly within their tactics.

"I don't think [it will be a problem], because it's a system that favours my style of play," he stated. "I already have the skill for playing wide as a winger.

"I came here, just like the rest did, to help Barca. I know that Barca can help me a lot, and the players. So, I think one helps the other and that's how we get the results.

"It's certainly very easy when you play with high-quality players, like the ones we have in our squad. Everything becomes much easier.

"Obviously, I'm adapting to the team's style of play, and I think they're going to help me a lot, and I'll do my best to help everyone."

Raphinha was arguably the pick of the players for Barca against Miami, and admitted that his dream debut was something he had hoped for - particular with a pre-season iteration of El Clasico against Real Madrid looming next.

"I am very happy to be able to score my first goal and to be able to play a good game," he added. "Obviously when you make your debut, you try to put in a good performance, and it was one of the best debuts I've ever had.

"I am very happy, and I hope to continue contributing to the team. Of course, playing a Clasico, we always want to score against the rival, and I really want to play these games, which for me are the best.

"By scoring goals we can achieve victory, which is the most important thing and helps us maintain confidence for the rest of the season."

Lucas Moura insists he is committed to Tottenham amid uncertainty over his future, as he expressed his desire to end a trophyless spell in north London next season.

The Brazil international revealed last month that the 2022-23 campaign could be his last with Spurs, though the forward's agent was quick to suggest his client remains an important part of Antonio Conte's plans.

Moura may have to settle for a rotational role, or play at wing-back as Conte previously hinted, due to the arrival of Richarlison in the off-season, with the former Everton man joining Harry Kane, Dejan Kulusevski and Son Heung-min in Spurs' attack.

With just a year left on his contract, on which Tottenham hold an option for a further 12 months, Moura said his planned return to Brazil can wait until he has experienced success under Conte.

"I will turn 30 in August. I'm getting old already, but I feel very good mentally and physically," he told football.london. "I'm very, very happy at Tottenham. I love the club. I love the fans.

"I love everyone who works in the club, but of course I have a plan to go back to Brazil one day. I have at least one year in my contract, maybe two.

"I don't know if the club will want me to sign another contract but I'm happy here. I just want to have the best season this season. 

"I just want to win a trophy because this has been my objective here since the first day I arrived in the club, and I believe this season I can achieve this, and then we'll see next season what is the desire of the club."

The former Paris Saint-Germain attacker appeared 34 times across the 2021-22 Premier League campaign, scoring two goals and assisting six, while creating 34 chances.

That represented Moura's worst goal return when playing a full season in the English top flight, but he hopes to prove his worth in a bid to feature at the Qatar World Cup for Brazil in November.

"I have other targets, which are to go back to the national team," he added. "Why not play in the World Cup at the end of the year? It's very difficult but anything is possible.

"I have this hope and I will work for this. These are the two most important targets for now."

Moura's compatriot Richarlison is another who will aim to feature in Qatar for Brazil following his big-money move from Everton.

The 25-year-old scored (10) and assisted (five) more Premier League goals than any other Everton player last term, and Moura believes Conte's new signing could be a great asset.

"I met him two years ago on the national team. Quality player, very good guy, he will help us a lot because he has some experience in the Premier League," he continued.

"He is strong. His mentality is very good. He's a great addition for us. He's a very simple guy, very humble, very funny. It's always good to have a guy like this in the squad and I'm happy because he's Brazilian, so I have one more Brazilian with me now!

"He's always ready to play because we see he loves to play football. It's good to have a player like this. 

"This season we can see another Tottenham and I hope we achieve our targets because we have a quality squad and a great manager. We have the quality to win trophies and this is our objective.

"We know how difficult it is because we play in the Premier League and there are a lot of teams that can win. Also, the Champions League we know is not easy, but we have a great squad.

"We have stars like Harry and Sonny. We have a manager who is one of the best. We have a structure, an amazing training ground, an unbelievable stadium, great fans.

"We have everything we need to achieve. Now it depends on us. We need to work hard and show on the pitch we deserve to win."

Fabinho has backed Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz to step up in Sadio Mane's absence for Liverpool, though he acknowledged the Uruguay striker may need time to adapt to the Premier League.

Liverpool narrowly missed out on a historic quadruple last term, winning both domestic cups but finishing as runners-up in the Premier League and Champions League as Mane scored 23 goals in all competitions.

The off-season has seen Jurgen Klopp remould his attack after Mane left for Bayern Munich, signing Nunez from Benfica in a deal potentially worth up to £85million (€100.5m), while Diaz made a positive impact after joining from Porto in January.

While Fabinho acknowledged Mane is a "big loss" for Liverpool, he remains confident the Reds' new-look attack will fire them into contention for more silverware next campaign.

"Darwin may need a bit of time to adapt, let's see, but a player like him can really change a team," Fabinho told the Athletic.

"He's a proper number nine. He's a goalscorer. He scored in both games against us in the Champions League. We know how good he is. 

"Even though we lost Sadio, I still believe that we can fight for everything. The team is still really strong.

"For a long time it was always Sadio on the left side. But we have Luis on the left side and we saw how well he played in the second half of last season. Luis will become increasingly important.

"At the end of the season, I spoke a lot with Sadio. He told me about the situation that he could leave. I was always saying to him, 'come on Sadio, stay here. You can win the Premier League and the Champions League right here, don't leave'. But I think he had already made his mind up. We had to respect that.

"Sadio had a really good story in a Liverpool shirt. He played for six years here and during that time he won everything you can win and he decided that he wanted a new challenge. That's okay.

"After the parade in Liverpool, everyone said goodbye to him. We knew there was a good chance he would be leaving. I always kept some hope that he would still stay but then it was all confirmed.

"Losing Sadio is a big loss. He was one of our best players but it's something that we can't change. We have to deal with it. Now other players have to step up and take on greater responsibility."

Next season will also see Fabinho assume a key role as Brazil look to end a 20-year wait for a World Cup win in Qatar, with the Selecao beginning their campaign against Serbia on November 24. 

And the midfield enforcer admitted ending his nation's long drought is in his thoughts as he suggested the timing of the tournament could be a positive for players.

"For us as players, I actually think it's good for us that the World Cup will be in November and December," he added. "Maybe around that time of year, we'll be in our best shape of the season.

"One of my big targets for the season is to play in the World Cup and try to win it for my country. 

"It's been 20 years since Brazil last won the World Cup and the people at home want so much for us to win it for the sixth time.

"I'm focused on giving my maximum to play a good season for Liverpool but I can't lie, the World Cup is also in my thoughts."

 Jamaican gymnast Tyesha Mattis has described her debut for Jamaica competing at the Pan American Youth and Senior Gymnastics Championships as an amazing experience and she cannot wait to don the national colours again at the World Gymnastics Championships in England in October.

The 23-year-old Mattis, who along with her sister, recently switched allegiance from England to Jamaica, was the first of 11 All Around gymnasts to qualify for the World Championships.

The All Around gold medallist at the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival said it felt great to be back in competition after a protracted hiatus.

“For me, it was a big experience just to get out there again,” she said. “I didn’t expect the results I had and it was just nice to represent my country and meet my team from Jamaica and it was just an amazing experience.

“I am just grateful to be here on the team and get this experience and I can’t wait to get out there at Worlds and show everybody my routines and my upgraded routines.”

She thanked Jamaica Gymnastics Association President Nicole Grant for affording her the opportunity to “get out there again.”

At the championships that ended Sunday, Jamaica experienced some misfortune as after finishing eighth in the team competition to qualify for the final team spot, a point was deducted from the team, which resulted in the final spot subsequently going to Cuba.

Brazil won the team competition with the USA and Canada finishing second and third, respectively.

It wasn’t all bad news, however, as Team Jamaica’s women made history by making the team qualifications for the first time for the 2023 CAC Games, joining Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, Panama and Venezuela as well as 10 other individuals from others countries with one or two spots at the meet next year.

Meanwhile, Jamaica’s male gymnast Caleb Faulk made some history of his own when he imprinted his name and Jamaica’s in the FIG Code of Points with a very difficult he skill created and flawlessly executed.

According to Grant, the skill was accepted and has been designated an E-value skill worth a massive five points.

The JAGA president thanked her country’s Sports Development Foundation and the Jamaica Olympic Association for the support they provided in helping the team get to the Pan American Championships.

“Thanks also to all the coaches, parents and gymnasts, who also made great sacrifices to compete at the meet,” she said.

Dani Alves says Barcelona "do not care about the people who made history for the club" following his release by the LaLiga giants last month.

The Brazil international returned to Camp Nou last November and made 17 appearances after being officially registered in January, but his short-term contract was not renewed.

Alves spent eight years with Barca in his previous spell in Catalonia and won 23 trophies in arguably the most successful period in the club's decorated history.

During that past stint, the 377 chances created by Alves were bettered by only five others from Europe's top five leagues, two of them being Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

While grateful to have had the chance to return, the veteran full-back is upset at the manner of his latest exit and has taken aim at those in charge of running the club.

"I didn't leave sad. I left happy to have returned to Barcelona. I dreamed for five years wanting to live this second moment," he told The Guardian. 

"The only thing I didn't like was how my departure was handled. 

"Since I arrived, I made it very clear that I wasn't any more a 20-year-old guy and that I wanted things to be done head-on, without hiding things. 

"But this club has sinned in recent years. Barcelona don't care about the people who made history for the club.

"As a [Barca fan], I would like Barcelona to do things differently. I’m not talking about myself because my situation was another scenario. 

"I am eternally grateful to Xavi and the president for bringing me back. I found a club full of young people with incredible ideas on the pitch. 

"But it needs to improve the work outside the field. The mindset is totally opposite to what we built a few years ago. 

"Everything that happens on the field is a reflection of what happens outside.

"I'm supporting for Barcelona to come back to the top, but it's super-complicated. Football is more balanced, it's a collective game. And that has been left out at the club."

 

Alves scored one goal and set up four more between his second debut on January 5 and the end of the 2021-22 campaign.

That is a tally bettered only by Ferran Torres (six), Jordi Alba (seven) and Ousmane Dembele (11) among Barca players over that period.

Despite recently turning 39, Alves has made clear he intends to find a new club in order to remain part of Tite's Brazil plans for the 2022 World Cup, which begins in November.

"I know that everyone is talking about my age, that I am old, that 20 years ago everyone wanted me and today not," he said. 

"But I completely disagree because I have an experience today that I didn't have 20 years ago. When there's a big game, 20-year-olds get nervous and worried, but I don't.

"Age has its pros and cons. There are many things you do when you're 20, but you don't do it when you're older. 

"Maturity comes from just living. I also have the experience of having lived almost everything in the sport."

Alves, capped 124 times by Brazil, added: "The last dance is when you're going to retire, but I think I’ll keep dancing. 

"A dance is always welcome, regardless of the place and which dance. I do not think like that. 

"And the last dance has already been done. It's better to create a new chapter, a new series. It's another chapter of my life."

Vinicius Junior says he faces "a long road" to compete for the Ballon d'Or, as he tipped team-mate Karim Benzema to be named the world's best player this year.

Vinicius scored the only goal of the game as Real Madrid beat Liverpool to win their 14th Champions League title in May, having also played a key role in Los Blancos' dominant La Liga triumph.

The Brazilian scored 22 goals and recorded 16 assists in all competitions during the 2021-22 season, the latter figure representing a team-high total and one bettered only by Thomas Muller (22), Kylian Mbappe (21) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (18) among players in Europe's top five leagues.

Brazil's 2002 World Cup winner Rivaldo recently tipped Vinicius to challenge for the title of the world's best as early as next year, but the winger believes the examples set by fellow Madrid stars Benzema and Luka Modric show he has a long way to go.  

"It's [the Ballon d'Or] something that has to come naturally," Vinicius told YouTube channel Que Papinho. 

"Karim is 35 years old and now he will win it, Modric won it at 33 [in 2018].

"I have many years to evolve, a very long road for me if God wants me to win it one day."

Benzema's total of 59 goal contributions (44 goals, 15 assists) was only bettered by Mbappe (39 goals, 21 assists) in Europe's top five leagues last term, and Vinicius says his fellow Blancos attacker is the perfect role model. 

"I'm only 21 years old. I want to follow players like Karim, Modric, Marcelo, who won five Champions League titles," he added.

"I want to get as close to them as possible. That's when someone can call me that [a role model].

"Benzema repays the affection I have for him. He was a player I followed for a long time. I'm a big fan and being able to play with him today is incredible.

"He recently in an interview put me in his top five in the world, so I'm really happy."

"He wants to come."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta did not mince his words when speaking about the possibility of the Blaugrana signing Raphinha.

Last week, Chelsea struck a deal with Leeds United – reported to be worth around £55million with add-ons taking the total fee to more than £60m – to take the Brazil winger from Elland Road to Stamford Bridge.

That agreement seemingly saw Chelsea pip London rivals Arsenal to the post after a high-profile pursuit.

Yet a deal that seemed set for a swift resolution has, as of yet, not been completed, and that is because, if Laporta is to be believed, the 25-year-old is prioritising a switch not to Stamford Bridge, but Camp Nou.

Barca have been consistently linked to Raphinha, who has established himself as one of the most exciting attackers in the Premier League since his move to Leeds from Rennes in September 2020.

Yet Laporta acknowledged that, despite Raphinha's wish to join Barca – whose financial issues make matching Chelsea's offer to Leeds problematic – the race is not won.

"We've spoken to Leeds, I don't think they will be offended," he explained. "We have communication and we have spoken personally. 

"What happens is that there are other clubs that want Raphinha and they are making their proposals."

At this stage, it does seem to be a two-horse race. Previously, with Barca's interest having seemed to have cooled, Arsenal looked well set to beat their rivals Tottenham to the winger, but it was then Chelsea who stole a march.

Bayern Munich have been credited with an interest in the past, but Sadio Mane's switch to Bavaria has ruled the German champions out.

But just why has Raphinha, a somewhat under-the-radar arrival in Yorkshire under two years ago, been so coveted?
 

Brazilian stardust meets street fighter spirit

Brazil. The home of the Copacabana, festivals and beautiful football. Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Pele, Kaka, Neymar, Zico, Socrates... the list of world-class talent produced by the South American nation is endless. They are five-time world champions for a reason.

But while Brazilian flair remains in abundance, the most recent success stories when it comes to the players that have struck gold, in the Premier League at least, have been those who have merged that national talent with steel, grit and robustness perhaps more associated with the likes of Argentina, Uruguay or the northern European nations.

Raphinha fits that bill, and like Premier League-based compatriots Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison, always seemed set to move for pastures new this off-season.

His talent cannot be doubted. Since making his Leeds debut, he has directly contributed to 29 Premier League goals, scoring 17 times and providing 12 assists, at least five more than any team-mates in the period.

 

The variety of his strikes has also been hugely impressive, with seven of his league goals for Leeds coming from outside the area. Only one player – Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse – can boast a better total (nine) in the same time frame.

Raphinha's 11 league goals last season marked his best performance since the 15 he netted in the 2017-18 campaign, when he played for Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal. He did not score as freely for Sporting CP, and only managed seven goals during his sole full season with Rennes in France.

Leeds' system, particularly under former manager Marcelo Bielsa and even still under Jesse Marsch, is physically demanding.

Raphinha, however, proved more than up to the task. Indeed, last season, he was a standout performer when it came to both targeted off-ball runs into the final third, and the number of sprints made per 90 minutes. 

A tireless runner, Raphinha offers both sides of the game.

He compares competitively when stacked up against Tottenham new boy Richarlison, one of the hardest working wide players in the Premier League across his time with Everton and a player that Raphinha competes with for a place in the Brazil side.

Raphinha's duel success rate of 42.6 per cent falls just short of Richarlison's 43.4 per cent, since the winger's league debut for Leeds on October 19, 2020, while the pair have won the same number of tackles (42), albeit Richarlison's success percentage of 59.7 compared to Raphinha's 54.1 puts him ahead in that regard.

Nevertheless, whichever club gets Raphinha is buying not just attacking output, but defensive steel.
 

Top-class creativity 

As mentioned, Raphinha's attacking output is up there with the best the Premier League has had to offer in recent seasons, especially when Leeds' struggles last season are taken into account.

Only four forwards have created more goals in the competition than Raphinha since his Premier League debut, and just one – Tottenham star Son Heung-min (131) – has created more chances in total than his tally of 129.

Of those opportunities, 85 came from open play, ranking him third in the division's attackers behind Mane (93) and Mohamed Salah (101), with his 22 big chances trailing only Salah and Harry Kane (both 26).

 

Raphinha has attempted 286 dribbles, the third-highest total in the league behind Adama Traore and Allan Saint-Maximin, though his success rate (41.3) trails some way behind that duo.

Four forwards had more than Raphinha's 155 shots, though his conversion rate of just under 11 per cent shows an area of improvement if he is to succeed at one of Europe's elite clubs.
 

World Cup hopes

It was in Portugal, not his homeland, that Raphinha made his name, but ahead of Qatar 2022, he seems a shoo-in to make Tite's squad.

He has won nine caps since his first selection in October last year, when he assisted twice on just his second appearance in a 3-1 win over Venezuela before scoring twice on his full debut in a 4-1 rout of Uruguay. Raphinha's third international strike came in a 4-0 defeat of Paraguay.

While a place on the plane to Qatar should be secured, barring injury, Raphinha will be determined to ensure he is fighting for a place in Tite's starting XI.

Brazil's coach has plenty of options to choose from for both flanks; the aforementioned Richarlison and Jesus can play central or wide, while Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior is surely a certainty to start on the left. Ajax's Antony, Madrid's Rodrygo and Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli and Everton, now back in Brazil with Flamengo, are all likely to be in that fight, too. 

Should he get his move to either London or Barcelona, Raphinha will get the opportunity to show Tite he truly can perform on the biggest stage.

Tottenham have completed the signing of Brazil international forward Richarlison from Everton.

The deal is rumoured to be worth an initial £50million, while add-ons could take the full figure to £60m.

Richarlison has signed a five-year contract at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and has become Spurs' fourth signing ahead of the new season after Fraser Forster, Ivan Perisic and Yves Bissouma.

If the deal does eventually reach the full £60m, it would make Richarlison the club's record signing.

The 25-year-old joined Everton from Watford in 2018 and had been a key figure at the club ever since that £50m move.

He played a vital role in helping Everton avoid relegation from the Premier League last season, scoring six of his 10 top-flight goals in the club's final nine games as Frank Lampard's side ended the campaign 16th.

Richarlison scored and assisted (five) more Premier League goals than any other Everton player in the 2021-22 season, and his 29 chances created was the fifth-highest in the squad.

Only four Everton players racked up more Premier League minutes than the former Fluminense attacker, and his 10 goals came from 10.1 expected goals (xG), suggesting he was reliable in front of goal in the context of the quality of chances provided by team-mates.

Chelsea had been mentioned as a potential destination for Richarlison, but Spurs have acted decisively in getting a deal over the line, with the Blues seemingly preoccupied with their pursuit of Leeds United's Raphinha.

Spurs are reported to also be targeting a move for Richarlison's now former Everton team-mate Anthony Gordon, while Barcelona centre-back Clement Lenglet is expected to be their next signing.

Fernandinho has penned a poetic farewell to Manchester City supporters on social media following his move to Athletico Paranaense.

Brazilian side Paranaense confirmed on Monday that an agreement is in place to re-sign Fernandinho, who previously spent three years with the club.

The 53-cap former Brazil international left Paranaense in 2005 to join Shakhtar Donetsk, before spending nine seasons with City, the last two of those as captain.

After making 383 appearances for City and winning 12 major honours, including five Premier League titles, Fernandinho bowed out at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.

And on the day his contract at the Etihad Stadium officially expired, Fernandinho took to Twitter to pay an emotional tribute to everyone connected with City.

"I saw. I saw my family proud. I saw supporters that never forgot where they came from," he posted in an open letter. 

"I saw the beauty of being part of a winning team. I saw titles, superstars and geniuses. I saw an opportunity to fulfil my dream.

"And then I realised. I realised the importance of all reading this letter. I realised that I made the right choice, the best choice of my entire life.

"I hope one day when you remember me, you feel the same way that I'm feeling when I'm writing this."

He added: "Athletes, coaches/trainers, laundry staff, kit managers, cleaners, concierge, security team, door staff, advisors, executives, cooks, directors, doctors, masseuses, physiotherapists, sports psychologists, media team, analysts, youth teams, charity teams…

"Apologies if I missed anyone, but you know who you are. Today is the last day of my contract with Manchester City.

"I can only say that I gave my very best and I would do it all over again. The story continues and after playing for nine years, I will become an avid Cityzen supporter for many more titles and victories.

"I am certain that many more will come judging by the quality of all your daily work."

Fernandinho signed off the letter: "My memories will last forever. Many thanks, your eternal captain."

The 37-year-old previously revealed he turned down numerous offers to return to Paranaense, who are now managed by former Portugal and Brazil boss Luis Felipe Scolari.

June 30, 2002, Yokohama. Ronaldo pounces on Rivaldo's dummy to side-foot past Germany's Oliver Kahn, becoming just the ninth man to score twice in a World Cup final and making Brazil champions of the world.

That moment, the pinnacle of the legendary forward's career, remains unmatched to this day for the Selecao, with Brazil failing to add to their five World Cup crowns in the subsequent two decades.

Should Brazil fall short of glory in Qatar later this year, that drought will stretch to at least 24 years, matching their longest wait for World Cup glory since their maiden title in 1958 (also between 1970 and 1994).

For a country whose hopes have been entrusted to such footballing icons as Ronaldinho, Kaka and Neymar in subsequent years, such a drought seems inexplicable, with three quarter-final exits and one historic semi-final humiliation the sum of their efforts since 2002. 

Exactly 20 years on from Brazil's triumph in Japan and South Korea, Stats Perform looks back on that momentous success, questions why it is yet to be repeated, and asks whether Tite's class of 2022 are equipped to bring glory to one of the world's most football-mad nations.

2002: Irresistible Ronaldo fires Selecao to glory in Japan and South Korea

It is no exaggeration to say Brazil's last World Cup win was one of the most impressive triumphs in the competition's history.

Luiz Felipe Scolari's men went from strength to strength after requiring a late Rivaldo penalty to edge a tense opener against eventual third-placed finishers Turkey, winning all seven of their games by an aggregate score of 18-4.

The class of 2002 thus hold the record for the most games won by a nation at a single World Cup, with Ronaldo – coming off an injury-blighted four seasons at Inter in which he managed just 36 Serie A appearances – the star of the show.

Partnering Rivaldo and supplied by Paris Saint-Germain's breakout star Ronaldinho, O Fenomeno netted eight goals across the tournament, the joint-most of any Brazilian at a single World Cup and the highest tally of anyone since West Germany's Gerd Muller struck 10 times in 1970.

 

Ronaldo's 19 shots on target in the tournament has not been matched in any subsequent World Cup, while his total of 34 attempts was more than five different nations managed. 

Quarter-final opponents England, vanquished when Ronaldinho audaciously (perhaps fortuitously) lobbed David Seaman from long-range, were the only side to keep Ronaldo out as he took the competition by storm.

A 25-year-old Ronaldo's final double against Germany represented his 44th and 45th international goals in just his 64th Brazil appearance. He managed just 17 further strikes in the famous yellow shirt during his career.

There was nothing in the 2002 squad's make-up to suggest a long wait for further tournament success was imminent: The experienced Cafu (31 in 2002) and Roberto Carlos (29) were still around in 2006, while future Ballon d'Or winners Ronaldinho (22) and Kaka (20) had their whole careers ahead of them.

How, then, did one of the greatest sides in modern international history contrive to fall so far short in subsequent World Cups?

 

2006-2010: Zidane and Sneijder sparkle as drab Brazil fall short

Brazil looked set for another shot at glory in Germany in 2006. Ronaldinho was crowned the world's best player in 2005; Kaka was to follow in his footsteps in 2007; and Ronaldo had hit a century of goals in his first four seasons with Real Madrid.

Brazil conceded just once in group-stage clashes with Croatia, Australia and Japan before crushing Ghana 3-0 in the last 16, but with Carlos Alberto Parreira cramming his three attacking stars into a rigid 4-4-2 shape, it was France who more closely resembled the Brazil sides of old in the last eight. 

Zinedine Zidane's performance in Frankfurt stands as one of the finest in the competition's history, as he tormented the defending champions' flat midfield before assisting Thierry Henry's winner.

It was the first of two masterful midfield displays to end the World Cup hopes of drab Brazil teams, with Wesley Sneijder assuming Zidane's role as the Netherlands vanquished Dunga's men in South Africa in 2010.

Progressing from the group stages has not been an issue for Brazil. Astonishingly, they are unbeaten in their last 15 group games, last suffering a first-stage defeat against Norway in 1998.

A lack of tactical nous against the world's best, however, has been a legitimate charge, and an understandable one given the identities of some of their head coaches.

Parreira's one Brazilian top-flight title was won way back in 1984, while Dunga's only club-level experience remains, to this day, a dire 2013 campaign with Internacional.

In that context, the return of Scolari, the emergence of Neymar and a home World Cup lifted expectations to monumental levels by 2014, when Brazilian dreams were to be shattered in the most incredible manner imaginable.

2014-2018: Home humiliation and Neymar reliance see Brazilian woes continue

The 2014 World Cup was billed as a festival of football, lit up by jubilant Brazilian crowds and thrilling football – the 171 goals scored across the tournament are the joint-most on record, alongside 1998.

Sadly for Brazil, eventual winners Germany provided 18 of those, with seven coming in a scarcely believable semi-final rout at the Mineirao.

Having gone 5-0 down within 29 minutes in the absence of Neymar and Thiago Silva, Scolari's men collapsed to arguably the greatest humiliation in World Cup history and, as almost goes without saying, the heaviest semi-final defeat the tournament has ever seen.

Only when Yugoslavia faced Zaire in 1974 had a side previously been 5-0 up after 29 minutes at a World Cup, but for all the excitement building around the host nation, Brazil's class of 2014 always appeared flawed.

An over-reliance on Neymar – cruelly sidelined by a dreadful quarter-final challenge from Colombia's Juan Camilo Zuniga – was clear in both 2014 and 2018, when Brazil fell to a 2-1 defeat to a Kevin De Bruyne-inspired Belgium in Russia.

 

Across those two tournaments, Neymar's six goals and two assists saw him directly involved in 42 per cent of Brazil's goals.

Fluminense striker Fred, ridiculed by many for his performances in 2014, wasn't exactly up to the task of replacing his goal threat, while Gabriel Jesus failed to find the net despite starting every match under Tite in 2018.

Indeed, coming into the 2018 tournament, Neymar – with 55 goals in 85 caps, was the only player in the Brazil squad to have scored more than 12 international goals.

Having achieved the rare feat of holding onto his job after leading Brazil at a World Cup, Tite will hope the emergence of several other stars lessens the burden on his number 10 this time around.

The road to Qatar: Can the class of 2022 end World Cup drought? 

Assuming he remains in charge when they face Serbia on November 24, Tite will become the first coach to lead Brazil at back-to-back World Cups since Tele Santana in 1982 and 1986.

While neither of Santana's campaigns ended in glory, the current boss – a Copa Libertadores and FIFA Club World Cup winner – will hope his six years moulding the side will prove invaluable in Qatar.

Brazil have already ended one mini trophy drought under his watch, winning a first Copa America title in 12 years on home soil in 2019 before finishing as runners-up to Argentina two years later.

Most impressively, Brazil triumphed without the injured Neymar in 2019 as Everton Soares top-scored, and the form of a series of Selecao stars has given Tite enviable squad depth.

In Allison and Ederson, he can choose between arguably the top two goalkeepers in the Premier League, while Fabinho was crucial as Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool fell narrowly short of a historic quadruple last term.

Casemiro, who won his fifth Champions League title with Madrid in May, could partner him in a fearsome midfield duo, but most of the excitement is centred on his club team-mate Vinicius Junior, whose 22 goals and 16 assists for Los Blancos last term suggest he can be the man to dovetail with Neymar.

 

After landing an appealing group-stage draw alongside Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon, the excitement around Brazil is building once more.

With the Selecao topping the FIFA World Rankings, having fairly recent a Copa America win under their belts and possessing some of European football's most-effective players, 2022 seems as good a time as any for Brazil to end 20 years of disappointment and bring 'o Jogo Bonito' to the world once more.

Fernandinho has rejoined former club Athletico Paranaense after announcing his departure from Manchester City.

The 37-year-old stated his intention to return to Brazil in April before completing his ninth campaign at the Etihad Stadium, and leaves at the end of his contract having made a total of 383 appearances for City.

Fernandinho took over as City captain after David Silva's 2020 departure and featured in five Premier League title wins, the last four of them under Pep Guardiola's management.

But the holding midfielder, who has won 53 caps for Brazil, was reduced to a supporting role during the 2021-22 season, starting just 17 games in all competitions as Rodri enjoyed a terrific campaign at the base of Guardiola's midfield.

On Monday, Athletico Paranaense tweeted an image of Fernandinho with club president Mario Celso Petraglia, alongside the caption: "Welcome back, Fernandinho!"

Fernandinho spent three seasons with the Curitiba-based club before joining Shakhtar Donetsk in 2005, where he won six Ukrainian top-flight titles.

Athletico Paranaense are coached by former World Cup-winning Brazil boss Luis Felipe Scolari, who joined the side in May.

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