Neymar and Mbappe ‘2000 per cent’ staying at PSG – Al-Khelaifi

Paris Saint-Germain will not have to sell Neymar or Kylian Mbappe to meet Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, according to the Ligue 1 club’s president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

PSG last year rejected allegations made by Der Spiegel and Mediapart that the club had circumvented FFP spending stipulations, saying they had “always acted in absolute compliance with the laws and regulations issued by sports institutions”.

Some claimed PSG would consider selling their prized assets to comply with the rules but Al-Khelaifi has denied that PSG will need to cash in on either Neymar or Mbappe, who have both been linked with moves away.

“It’s not 100 per cent, but 2,000 per cent,” Al-Khelafi told Le Parisien when asked if PSG’s star duo would remain at Parc des Princes.

“They will stay in Paris. Many media, especially in France, claim that we would need to sell Neymar or Kylian. I want to confirm that Kylian and Neymar will stay here.

“Of course, we want to buy, staying within the framework of Financial Fair Play. We are confident. We have the means to recruit.”

Neymar is currently in Brazil receiving treatment on a metatarsal injury, with Mbappe having taken over as PSG’s main attacking outlet in his – and Edinson Cavani’s – absence. 

The 20-year-old recently took over the best single season mark for a French player in club history and has grown into one of the top players in the world.   

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The club are 14 points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table and hold two games in hand on nearest challengers Lille.  

They also hold a 2-0 lead over Manchester United heading into the second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie, slated to take place in Paris March 6.  

PSG are back in action on Saturday with a league match against Nimes and will follow that up with a French Cup quarter-final against Dijon on Tuesday.  

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Dunne: Chilwell and Wan-Bissaka can’t turn down City move

Ben Chilwell and Aaron Wan-Bissaka would be unable to resist a summer move to Manchester City should the champions show an interest, according to former City defender Richard Dunne.

Chilwell and Wan-Bissaka have both enjoyed standout seasons so far for Leicester and Crystal Palace respectively.

Chilwell’s performances for the Foxes saw him earn his first international cap for England against Switzerland in September, going on to make a further four appearances for Gareth Southgate’s side throughout the autumn.

Wan-Bissaka only made his senior debut for the Eagles 12 months ago but has quickly developed into one of the Premier League’s most consistent right-backs.

The duo’s performances have understandably led to speculation that one of the league’s major clubs could make a summer bid, with Manchester City among them.

The Premier League champions have been linked with a number of British youngsters in order to boost their quota of home-grown players.

Should they make an approach for Chilwell and Wan-Bissaka, then Dunne feels neither player would be able to turn down a move to Etihad Stadium.

“Chilwell would be a positive move for the club, and he’d help keep up the quota of English players at the club,” Dunne told us-bookies.com.

“He looks like a talented footballer. However, anyone that comes in as a left-back has to realise they won’t be an understudy, and due to injury problems they will be playing regularly at Man City. It’s a great chance for him to establish himself at one of the biggest clubs in Europe.

“Wan-Bissaka looked a very good player when he played the Etihad, he’s got great pace and gets up and down the pitch. He’s not as great on the ball as [Kyle] Walker, but defensively he’s excellent and very hard to beat.

“Playing with Kyle Walker will help him develop at such a young age, much like Chilwell it’s an opportunity they can’t turn down. With the chance to play Champions League football and learn under Pep Guardiola.”

Another potential home-grown target is West Ham’s Declan Rice, who recently switched his international allegiance from the Republic of Ireland to England.

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Dunne believes the 20-year-old would also be a good addition to City’s already talented squad.

“Declan Rice is a very, very talented player and he’s doing well for West Ham. I’m sure Man City will be looking at him,” added the former Republic of Ireland captain.  

“The opportunity for him to go to a big club like Man City, and the fact he’s now an English player will be a factor. They’d do well in signing him.”

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Laporte signs new Man City contract just one year after joining

Manchester City centre-back Aymeric Laporte has signed a two-year contract extension with the club, despite having only joined them last January.

Laporte has become a central part of Pep Guardiola’s plans at the Etihad Stadium and is the outfield player to have played the most minutes for the Blues this season.

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The 24-year-old joined City from Athletic for a fee of £57 million ($74m) just over a year ago, signing a deal until 2023.

His new deal, which also includes a wage rise, now keeps him at the club until 2025.

More to follow…

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An upgrade on Navas? Courtois struggling to shine at Real Madrid so far

Thibaut Courtois won four major trophies in as many seasons as Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper but was never recognised as the best goalkeeper in the Premier League.

Why? Because of one man: David de Gea.

Courtois is now in the Spanish capital, representing one of the biggest clubs in the world in Real Madrid, but is struggling to establish himself as the best goalkeeper in La Liga.

Why? Because of one man: David de Gea.

Although the Manchester United goalkeeper is almost 1000 miles from the Belgian, his shadow looms large over the goalposts at the Santiago Bernabeu, where he almost ended up just less than four years ago.

Ever since his move to Madrid collapsed, in a deal that would have seen Keylor Navas go the other way, Los Blancos have struggled to satisfy their goalkeeping demands.

Despite Navas helping to deliver three Champions League titles in four seasons, Real have constantly tried to replace the Costa Rican, who joined from Levante after an impressive 2014 World Cup.

It is harsh on a player who has also won La Liga, the Supercopa de Espana, two UEFA Super Cups and four FIFA Club World Cups with the club.

His frustrations are beginning to show too, with him publicly lamenting his situation earlier this season by pointing out: “I went from winning three Champions League titles to not playing.”

Courtois quote PS

But the key in all of this is that Navas has continued to stick around and fight for his place – because he knows he is good enough to compete with Courtois.

“The day when I realise that I cannot be the first-choice goalkeeper will be the day I leave,” he said last month.

It’s telling that this is his attitude when competing with Courtois, given he was going to depart when De Gea was supposed to arrive. It says much about how Navas views the two.

De Gea has won Man United’s Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year four times, while he has been named in the PFA Team of the Year for four seasons running, despite United finishing fourth, fifth, sixth and second, respectively.

And, more widely, he is regarded as one of the best – if not the best – goalkeeper in the world.

Courtois’ reputation, meanwhile, pales in comparison. He is certainly seen as one of the ‘better’ goalkeepers in the game, but not among the ‘best’.

The 26-year-old’s technical ability could be the reason for this, with Courtois himself admitting: “Maybe I’m not the best [with my feet].”

He continued: “But I’m not bad either. Sometimes, I give a bad pass. But I know that more goalkeepers, who they say are phenomenal with their feet, commit more errors than me.”

He may have a point.

While Courtois has yet to commit an error leading to an opposition shot this season, the likes of Alisson (5), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (4), Manuel Neuer (3), Ederson (3), Kepa Arrizabalaga (3) and even De Gea (1) have.

Navas quote PS

“There are times when I feel that I am not appreciated enough,” Courtois told HLN Sport. “Today, it is far too easy to point to keepers when one loses.

“I’ve conceded quite a few goals with Real Madrid, but whoever follows me well knows that I’m not playing a bad season. I’m not trying to get myself into it.”

But while Courtois can argue that he makes up for his distribution in error-free, save-laden performances, there is – as always – an argument against this.

While the stats don’t show errors, the Belgian’s recent performances have been below-par, with just one clean sheet in his last eight outings.

He has a significantly lower save percentage than the aforementioned goalkeepers – below everyone except Neuer and Arrizabalaga – and could have, and probably should have, cost Real Madrid heavily in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie with Ajax.

However, VAR controversially came to his rescue when Nicolas Tagliafico capitalised on the goalkeeper’s dropping of a cross to score.

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The level of criticism aimed at Courtois is unfair but the reality is that he is not the upgrade on Navas that Real Madrid wanted.

Los Blancos are fortunate to have two top quality goalkeepers at their disposal, both with the titles and individual accolades to prove it.

But until they can get De Gea to the Bernabeu, they will not be satisfied.

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Friedel ‘definitely interested’ in bringing Premier League players to New England Revolution

New England Revolution head coach Brad Friedel is targeting the Premier League in a quest to make new signings.

Friedel has ties with a number of Premier League clubs, with the American making 450 appearances in England’s top flight from 1997-2015 for Liverpool, Blackburn, Tottenham and Aston Villa.

Ahead of the new Major League Soccer season, the 47-year-old is trying to use his relationships and connections with the Premier League to make headway in the transfer market.

“There are definitely Premier League players that I am interested in, but I can’t give away any secrets,” said Friedel, speaking exclusively to  us-bookies.com

“There are quite a few that I have touched base with and it has to work for our squad. It helps when we are going for targeted money allocation players when spending more money.

“But I’m definitely using my relationships, but they have to be able to do the business on the field.

“I don’t know every player but there will be someone that I know that can get to a player, and these things usually take months and months of scouting the player both on and off the field, but it’s something that I’m trying to use and forge relationships to get the right players.”

The former USMNT goalkeeper is optimistic about the future recruitment plans for the club following the appointment of a chief scout and expansion of its scouting network.

He added: “We have a very good scouting network that we set up last season, including the club’s first-ever chief scout and we’ve just hired another one for South America and what we look for consistently are people who are going to better the squad.

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“Whether we bring in players from England, other parts of Europe, South America, or other parts of the world is sort of irrelevant to us, we’re trying to bring in people in the positions where we feel that we need help.”

Friedel is also keeping a light-hearted eye on the future of Harry Kane, with the Tottenham striker a massive New England Patriots fan, and the England international was also pictured celebrating with the team after their victory in the Super Bowl earlier this month.

He joked: “I saw Harry Kane post a couple of photos with a few of the Patriots players, so we will have to see what happens there in the future!”

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