Pedro backs Neymar to make instant impact at Barcelona

The Spain international believes that the presence of fellow Brazilians Dani Alves and Adriano in Catalunya will help the 21-year-old adapt quickly

Barcelona attacker Pedro believes new team-mate Neymar is more than capable of making an instant impact at Camp Nou.

The Blaugrana last month confirmed the signing of the Brazil international from Santos for a fee of €57 million and great things are expected of the 21-year-old, particularly in light of his subsequent stellar showings for the Selecao at the Confederations Cup.

Pedro acknowledges that Neymar will need some time to settle in Catalunya but he still expects the forward to shine next season.

“He will adapt very quickly,” the Spain star told El Mundo Deportivo. “It is true that you need an adjustment period to get to know the game in another country: how everything is, the city etc.

“But, like I said, I think he will adapt fairly quickly. He has very good friends there, such as Dani Alves and Adriano, and that will help.

“I think he is also happy and excited about playing for Barca, so hopefully be an important player for us.”

Johan Cruyff has suggested that the Catalans should cash in on Lionel Messi now that they have acquired Neymar, but Pedro can see no reason why they would allow the four-time Ballon d’Or winner to leave.

“He is the best in the world,” the winger enthused. “It is a privilege and a pleasure to have him with us.

“This is demonstrated in every game and it’s amazing. You cannot compare any player in the world today with Messi.”

As for his own future at Camp Nou, Pedro revealed that, despite the increased competition for places in Catalunya, he would like to spend the rest of his career with the club.

“I want to continue at Barca many years – and I hope to,” he admitted. “I know it’s difficult because Barca will always demand a lot – you always have to play at the highest level – but the truth is that today I only think about the national team and Barca.”

Borussia Dortmund launch €23 million bid for Mkhitaryan

Shakhtar Donetsk CEO Sergei Palkin insists they will not part with their attacking star for less than €30m, with Liverpool also interested in the player

Shakhtar Donetsk CEO Sergei Palkin has confirmed that Borussia Dortmund have made a €23 million bid for attacker Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

The Armenian star has long been liked with a move to Premier League outfit Liverpool, with Brendan Rodgers including the player in his plans for a £42m summer spending spree.

Dortmund have no leaped to the front of the queue for his signature by tabling a bid for his services, but Palkin has stressed that Shakhtar will accept nothing less than €30m for the 24-year-old, even though he failed to turn out for pre-season training for the Ukraine giants.

“I don’t know where Mkhitaryan is, now; solely his agent knows this,” Palkin told Terrikon.

“Borussia offered €23m for the midfielder. I contacted Mkhitaryan’s agent yesterday. I wrote to him about the official position of the club.

“We are prepared to sell Mkhitaryan for €30m; this offer stands for the next 10 days. If Mkhitaryan wishes to leave, they have to pay this amount for him.”

Mata bemused by Chelsea exit talk

With suggestions that Real Madrid could pounce on his availability, the attacking midfielder is adamant that he remains an important part of the Blues’ plans for the future

Chelsea attacking midfielder Juan Mata says that he is unsure as to where rumours linking him with a move away from Stamford Bridge originated.

The Spaniard’s fine form in 2012-13 saw him rewarded with both the Players’ and Supporters Player of the Year awards but it has recently been suggested that new manager Jose Mourinho club could be willing to offload him, with Germany international Andre Schurrle signed to bolster the attacking midfield ranks.

“I don’t know where that come from,” a confused Mata told AS when quizzed on the stories linking him with a move back to Real Madrid.

“The last time I spoke with the club they told me I was a very important player to them and transmitted confidence in me.”

The 25-year-old is keen on extending his stay with the Blues and will demand talks upon returning to England.

“I’m sure Mourinho will want to see everyone first then decide what he wants to do,” the Spain international remarked. “You have to know people first before you can evaluate them. After the holidays and after I’ve rested I’ll meet the new boss and I’m sure things will go well.”

While Mata wishes to remain with the side with whom he won the 2012 Champions League, he was also happy to praise los Blancos.

“I only have good words for Real Madrid. I was there for four years and they brought me up, both as a player and as a person,” he enthused.

“I have many friends there and I’m very grateful to the club but I’ve spent two great years in London and the only thing I’m thinking about now is continuing to enjoy this league and this city that I love.”

Ancelotti: It's a pity I can't put Zidane on the pitch

The former AC Milan boss expects to enjoy a fine working relationship with the France legend but insists that they have yet to discuss summer transfer targets

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti is looking forward to working alongside Zinedine Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu, but bemoaned the fact that he cannot put the Frenchman on the pitch.

The 54-year-old Italian was unveiled as Jose Mourinho’s successor as los Blancos boss on Wednesday and, during his first media grilling, he insisted that he expects to enjoy a close and harmonious working relationship with his new club’s director of football.

“Zidane will sit with me on the bench,” Ancelotti told reporters. “But it’s a shame he can’t play!”

It has been suggested that the pair have already discussed possible transfer targets, but Ancelotti says he has yet to discuss any potential summer signings.

“We haven’t spoken yet about new signings, because it’s my first day here,” the former Chelsea boss explained.

When pressed on Madrid’s reported interest in signing Malaga starlet Isco, Ancelotti stated that he new nothing of any concrete bid for the player.

“I can only talk about this player’s quality,” he reasoned. “He has a lot of quality.”

The arrival of the ex-AC Milan coach would appear to be good news for Rossoneri legend Kaka, who has struggled to nail down a regular berth in the Blancos line-up since arriving at the Santiago Bernabeu from San Siro four years ago.

But Ancelotti was coy when it came to addressing the Brazilian’s future, stating: “I’ll see him train and then I’ll decide. For now, he’s a Real Madrid player and we’ll try to get the best out of him.”

Ancelotti has penned a three-year contract with Madrid and arrives in the Spanish capital just over a month after leading Paris Saint-Germain to their first French title since 1994.

Why Manchester City gave up on Carlos Tevez

The Argentine’s mammoth wages and numerous indiscretions made a sale inevitable as Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano prepare to step up their Eastlands revolution

SPECIAL REPORT
By Liam Twomey

As Carlos Tevez closes in a move to Juventus, the Italian club’s sporting director, Beppe Marotta, may well take a moment to congratulate himself on a job well done. Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano will be inclined to do the same.

It is a move which suits all parties. Juventus, seemingly trumped by Arsenal in the race to sign Gonzalo Higuain, finally have acquired a marquee striker versatile enough to partner with Fernando Llorente or Mirko Vucinic as they look to mount an earnest challenge for the Champions League. Should they make it to the semi-finals, Tevez’s fee will rise to around €17.5 million.

For Tevez, Turin presents the fresh start that he has been craving since that first transfer request in December 2010. He may be taking a significant cut to his gargantuan €,000-a-week wages and it may not be his beloved Buenos Aires but it is a city and culture which should prove not quite so alien or apparently repugnant as Manchester.

Yet in spite of all this, it is City who will be most satisfied. That may sound strange, given that only Sergio Aguero could match his countryman’s goal tally of 17 for the club last season, but City’s perception of the man for whom they went to great lengths and expense to lure from Old Trafford in the summer of 2009 has always been conditioned by more than what he does on the pitch.

To suggest that Tevez has often been difficult to manage during his time at the Etihad Stadium would be a ludicrously kind conclusion. Roberto Mancini, a combustible character himself, found the task impossible. The relationship between the two men shattered in the Allianz Arena away dugout in September 2011 and never recovered.

Tevez, defiant, spent the next three months working on his golf handicap, before returning and helping City win their first league title since 1968. His team-mates and club staff welcomed him back with handshakes and open arms, much to Mancini’s chagrin. The whole episode cemented the almost unanimous unpopularity which would eventually prove decisive for the Italian.

There have also been other, less high-profile issues: the driving ban, the 250-hour community service order, the over-indulgence of £50 steaks at Gaucho, his favourite Manchester restaurant, the countless rounds of golf in Cheshire with his wife, Vanessa, the constant public flirting with other clubs and repeated insistencies of his desire to return to his homeland.

GOODBYE, CARLOS

TEVEZ’S MAN CITY STATS
GAMES PLAYED
GOALS
MAJOR TROPHIES WON
138
73
2

For Begiristain and Soriano, however, the decision to sell is not personal, merely sporting and financial. Tevez is 29 and has just one year remaining on huge money. Having already offloaded Kolo Toure, Wayne Bridge and Roque Santa Cruz, City need to free up more of their wage bill if their €140m shortlist of six summer targets – headed by Napoli striker Edinson Cavani – is to remain feasible, and this is the last window in which Tevez can still command a reasonable fee.

With Financial Fair Play enforcement looming, the former Barcelona duo are keen to eradicate the money-grabbing culture which pervaded at City previously and replace it with more heavily incentivised contracts. They are also keen to cultivate the ‘club man’ mentality embodied by captain Vincent Kompany and Joe Hart. In both regards, it is clear that Tevez does not fit into their vision.

Edin Dzeko is likely to become another casualty of the City revolution. Cavani is the No.1 attacking target, though Napoli’s reluctance to accept anything less than his €63m release clause, combined with stiff competition from Real Madrid and Chelsea, means that tying up a deal will be difficult.

Malaga starlet Isco’s likely impending move to the Santiago Bernabeu rather than rejoining former boss Manuel Pellegrini will also necessitate a rethink at Eastlands in the coming days and weeks.

Yet, despite the difficulties City are facing as buyers, the sale of Tevez will be regarded as a success by Begiristain and Soriano. They have lost a big player but also a big headache.

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