Neymar must join Real Madrid to become the best – Rivaldo

Neymar must join Real Madrid if he is to be considered the best player in the world, according to former Barcelona and Brazil star Rivaldo.

The 26-year-old left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain last year and has excelled in Ligue 1, but compatriot Rivaldo feels he will not be able to reach his full potential in France.

And amid widespread reports that Madrid are interested in Neymar, the World Cup winner has told the current Brazil forward to push for a move.

“I have even told [Neymar] he could be the best in the world,” Rivaldo told GloboEsporte.com. “But I believe that if he stays at PSG, it will not happen. He has to leave PSG.

“The football for him, if he is to be the best in the world, has to be in Spain. If you’re going to analyse, there’s England, Spain, Italy, Germany – all different – but I’m talking about competitive football.

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“Barcelona, ??because of his situation, is difficult. But I believe that, from what I hear, from people who bring information to me, he has a chance to play for Real Madrid.

“Then, yes, I think he can be the best in the world.”

Neymar is nearing a return from a fractured foot suffered with PSG as he looks to lead Brazil in this year’s World Cup and improve on a fourth-placed finish four years ago.

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It’s a good time for Iniesta to leave Barcelona, says father

Andres Iniesta is set to make a difficult decision but his father Jose Antonio believes the time is right for the Barcelona great to leave the La Liga giants.

Iniesta celebrated Copa del Rey glory following Saturday’s 5-0 demolition of Sevilla as he reportedly nears a move to the Chinese Super League.

The 33-year-old midfielder – who scored in the victory in Madrid – said he will make an announcement on his future “this week”, with Chongqing Lifan favourites to sign the Spanish star.

“He’s going to make a difficult decision,” he said in an interview with Cadena SER.

“If he chooses to leave then you have to respect it.

“I think it’s a good time for him to take such a tough step and he intends to announce his decision next week.”

 

 

A post shared by Andres Iniesta (@andresiniesta8) on

Iniesta scored Barca’s fourth at the Wanda Metropolitano before he received a standing ovation as he was substituted with two minutes remaining.

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“It’s good for him to score his first goal in a Copa del Rey final,” Iniesta’s father said.

“Now the match is over, I’m calmer. My son has done well, he’s played in his style.”

Meanwhile, La Liga’s Instagram account seemed to hint that the World Cup winner’s career at Camp Nou is over.

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Don’t go, Andres! Artist Iniesta still belongs at Barcelona

Tears welled up his eyes. As Andres Iniesta walked off the pitch at the Wanda Metropolitano, he stopped to embrace several of his team-mates and was applauded by both sets of supporters after helping Barcelona beat Sevilla 5-0 in the final of the Copa del Rey. It felt like the end.

And if it is indeed the end, it was a fitting finale. Iniesta had produced an exhibition in attacking football, gliding past rivals, linking up with pinpoint passes and even scoring an excellent goal. He always did save them for the big occasion, after all.

After spending the final few minutes on the bench following his substitution, he was then back to lift the trophy, his 31st for Barcelona and a 34th in total. Next week, away to Deportivo La Coruna, he can add another as the Blaugrana look to complete a domestic double. And then in a flash, he will be gone.

“There are a lot of emotions and feelings,” he said after the game. “I’m happy for the image we gave of ourselves and for the title. The fans deserved this after what happened against Roma.”

He deserved it, too. “This week I will make my decision public,” he added. “But we’ll [always] have days like today. I’ll say what my decision is. It’s a bit clear, but well, we’ll see.” 

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Iniesta has received ovations from fans all over Spain in the past, including at Real Madrid and Espanyol, Barcelona’s two biggest rivals. And on Saturday, Sevilla’s supporters paid tribute to the midfielder – even though their team were 5-0 down when he was withdrawn.

“I burst into tears when I heard the ovation they had given Andres,” the player’s father, Jose Antonio, told Spanish radio after the game. “It was really emotional to hear the ovation for Andres.”

And he added: “If he takes the decision to leave, it must be respected. If he chooses to leave, I think it is a good moment. My son is going to take a tough step.”

Iniesta trophies graphic

Coach Ernesto Valverde would not confirm whether it was indeed goodbye for Iniesta. “Well, we will have to see what happens,” he said. “He played a great game. Watch him, enjoy him. I would have given an arm when I was a player to do the things he does.”

Iniesta’s goal came from a one-two with Lionel Messi, the Argentine assisting his friend for Barca’s fourth goal as the midfielder rounded goalkeeper David Soria and fired into the empty net from a tight angle.

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Andres is 34 in May, while Leo will be 31 in June. Together, they have been at the forefront of the best Barcelona era ever and without each other, it would not have been quite so special.

But barring a late change of heart, it is now all over. Iniesta is set on a move to China in the summer, just months after signing a “lifetime” contract with the Catalan club and despite the fact he remains easily good enough to continue at Camp Nou for at least one more season.

Even when he is gone, though, his football will live long in the memory. His artistry is a joy to behold even now and it is sad for all football fans that he is leaving so soon. Don’t go, Andres – you still belong at Barcelona…

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Transfer news & rumours LIVE: Jorginho wants City move over Man Utd


Jorginho prefers City over United


Napoli midfielder Jorginho would prefer to join Manchester City over their local rivals Manchester United, according to  The Sun .

City are keen to bolster their midfield this summer, with Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara and Shakhtar Donetsk’s Fred also on their radar.

But they could be about to usurp United in the race for Italy international Jorginho, with the player’s agent having met both clubs during a recent visit to England.


Real Madrid drop Bale asking price


Gareth Bale’s price tag has dropped to €70 million as Real Madrid hope to spark interest, according to Don Balon .

Madrid president Florentino Perez wants Bale out this summer, but realises his price tag is putting teams off.

By dropping the price down, Perez hopes to spark a bidding war between clubs to get Bale’s eventual fee back over €100 million.


Man Utd battle Barca for Lenglet


Manchester United are set to battle for Barcelona for Sevilla defender Clement Lenglet, according to  The Sun .

The 22-year-old impressed during his side’s Champions League win over United and has shown consistent form in La Liga this term.

He is likely to cost somewhere in the region of £20 million.


La Liga confirms Iniesta exit?


La Liga’s social media accounts have strongly hinted that Andres Iniesta is on his way out at Barcelona.

The Spanish international has received an offer to leave the club, though he has denied anything official has been agreed to.

However, La Liga posted a tweet after he scored in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey victory which reads: “THE Final of Iniesta” and an image on Instagram thanking the midfielder.

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Mourinho splits United dressing room


Jose Mourinho may have split the Manchester United dressing room with his criticism of his players, according to the Sun .

Mourinho has come under fire after blasting the team in their recent FA Cup win over Brighton.

He is also barely speaking with star Paul Pogba and has annoyed others by his treatment of Luke Shaw, which has been compared to his exile of Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.


PSG confident of landing Sessegnon


Paris Saint-Germain are confident they will beat Manchester United to the signature of teenage sensation Ryan Sessegnon, according to the Daily and Sunday Express .

Sessegnon has admirers in Tottenham, Liverpool and Real Madrid as well, though Fulham have slapped a £50 million price tag on him.

The Cottagers hope to keep him if they earn promotion back to the Premier League, but face an uphill battle to do so even in that circumstance.


Conte’s £10 million payout keeping him at Chelsea


Antonio Conte’s sizable £10 million payout if he is fired is holding up his dismissal from Chelsea, the Mirror   reports.

The Blues want to move on from Conte at the end of the season, but do not want to be on the hook for that amount.

Chelsea are confident Conte will negotiate a compromise as numerous big jobs are likely to come open this summer.


Guardiola believes Vieira is ready for Arsenal


Pep Guardiola has voiced confidence that New York City FC head coach Patrick Vieira is ready to step in for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal if the Gunners come calling for their former player.

Vieira previously led Manchester City’s youth teams before leading their sister club, and is seen by some as a potential heir to Guardiola himself when he departs the club.

Guardiola declared Vieira is already a top manager, though Vieira himself has downplayed the links, saying he is flattered but happy with NYCFC.

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Six clubs trying to sign Fellaini


Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini is being pursued by six teams as his contract at Old Trafford winds down, reports the Mirror .

Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Besiktas, Monaco, West Ham and Leciester City all hope to secure the Belgian international’s signature on a free this summer.

PSG and Juventus are considered the favorites, while David Moyes’ dreams of a reunion with Fellaini may be undermined by the uncertainty in his status for next season.


Chelsea and Arsenal battle for Enrique


London rivals Chelsea and Arsenal both are hoping to secure the signature of ex-Barcelona manager Luis Enrique, according to the Sun .

The Blues have balked at Enrique’s extensive backroom demands allowing Arsenal to enter the frame.

Both clubs are also keeping an eye on Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri and former Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti, who previously managed Chelsea in the Premier League. 


Hoffenheim boss dismisses Premier League rumours


Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann has dismissed talk he is in the frame for jobs at Arsenal and Chelsea.

The 30-year-old Nagelsmann has been talked about as a candidate for bigger clubs before, as he was mentioned as a possibility for Bayern Munich.

However, he believes reports linking him to England as a replacement for Arsene Wenger or Antonio Conte are simply rumours with little validity to them.

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Barca eye Salah in Dembele swap deal


Barcelona are plotting a swap deal involving Ousmane Dembele that they hope will convince Mohamed Salah to leave Anfield for Camp Nou, according to Diario Gol .

The report suggests that such a proposal pleases Lionel Messi, who would prefer not to see Antoine Griezmann join the Catalan side as he feels they would overlap too often on the pitch.

The acquisition of Salah would mean Barcelona have a player at the peak of his powers rather than having to wait for Dembele to fully develop, and also means Coutinho could concentrate more on replacing Andres Iniesta in midfield rather than working on the flank.


Pep wants Lewandowski


Pep Guardiola has asked Man City to sign Robert Lewandowski from Bayern Munich, Don Balon   claims.

Real Madrid had been tipped as favourites to lure the striker away from Bavaria, but the Spanish outlet suggests Pep’s relationship with the Pole means a deal could be possible.

Should Lewandowski make the move, Sergio Aguero would likely leave the Etihad.


Luis Enrique hopes for Messi at Arsenal


Luis Enrique would like to bring Lionel Messi to the Premier League if he is appointed as Arsenal manager, according to the Express .

The Spanish coach has an excellent working relationship with the Argentine superstar from their time together at Barcelona, and is hopeful that this will help put the Gunners at the top of the pile if Messi decides to leave Camp Nou.


CSL club confident over Iniesta deal


CSL club Chongqing Lifan are confident of completing a deal for Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta, if their main sponsor is to be believed.

Gong Daxing, the chairman of club sponsor SWM, has revealed he is “positive on introducing Iniesta”, with the Barca star having been linked with various clubs in China, including Chongqing Lifan.

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Wenger set for PSG?


After announcing his decision to stand down as Arsenal manager in the summer, Arsene Wenger’s next destination could be PSG, according to L’Equipe .

The French champions reportedly see the veteran boss as a perfect general manager as they seek to win a first Champions League.

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Valverde calms Iniesta rumours after Copa substitution

Ernesto Valverde said Andres Iniesta’s substitution in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey triumph over Sevilla was not a farewell as he paid tribute to the Chinese Super League target.

Iconic Spanish midfielder Iniesta said he will decide on his future “this week” amid links with the CSL after scoring in Barca’s 5-0 rout of Sevilla in Madrid Saturday.

Chongqing Lifan – led by former Portugal and Sporting CP head coach Paulo Bento – have reportedly reached an agreement to lure the 33-year-old to China.

Barca boss Valverde, however, was tight-lipped on Iniesta’s future at the LaLiga giants as he insisted there was nothing behind the veteran’s withdrawal two minutes from the end of the match.

“He was playing a great game. I wanted people who enjoyed him playing extraordinarily during all the game to give him that homage, but the change didn’t mean anything else,” Valverde told reporters of Iniesta, who was given a standing ovation at Wanda Metropolitano.

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“About him, it is a pleasure to see him playing, to see him playing like he did today. I said the same about Messi in the past: They make it look a lot easier, what they do.

“I would have given my arm to be able to do what Iniesta does when I was a player. We are very lucky to have him with us, and everyone else is very lucky to be able to enjoy his game.”

Pressed on Iniesta’s future plans, Valverde said: “Nothing to say. It’s a tricky question, it looks like you want me to tell you what he could have told us. I don’t have anything to say.

“He is the only one who can make a choice and communicate it, if he does it. We are still with him and we are pleased with him.”

 

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