Rumour Has It: Neymar contacts Barca star Messi over PSG move

By Sports Desk February 16, 2021

With Lionel Messi's future far from certain at the end of the season, his former team-mate Neymar has apparently reached out to the Barcelona captain about a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Brazilian superstar Neymar played alongside the six-time Ballon d'Or winner for four LaLiga seasons between 2013 and 2017, before sealing a world-record transfer to Ligue 1 giants

It is understood Pep Guardiola's Manchester City are ready to make a play to bring Messi to the Premier League, but Mauricio Pochettino's PSG appear to be taking the direct approach.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR PUTS IN A CALL TO MESSI

Lionel Messi's contract at his boyhood club expires in the off-season, less than a year after the Barcelona superstar sensationally tried to leave Camp Nou but found his exit plans blocked.

According to L'Equipe, Neymar – who is set to miss the Champions League trip to the Barcelona on Tuesday – has put in a call to convince Messi to join Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi will lead out Barca in the first leg of the last-16 tie, having stated he will wait until the end of the current campaign before making a decision on where he will play in 2021-2022.

ROUND-UP

- PSG star Kylian Mbappe has decided to stay put this off-season but is not planning on extending his current contract, which expires in 2022, claims ESPN.

Liverpool are looking for defensive reinforcements and they are monitoring Aston Villa's England Under-21 international Ezri Konsa, according to The Athletic.

- Bayern Munich's free-agent defender David Alaba has already agreed to join Real Madrid at season's end, reports Fabrizio Romano.

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  • Santos scolds Ronaldo for South Korea spat as Portugal coach insists transfer talk not his focus Santos scolds Ronaldo for South Korea spat as Portugal coach insists transfer talk not his focus

    Cristiano Ronaldo's spat with South Korea's Cho Gue-sung frustrated Fernando Santos, who was unsure on reports surrounding the Portugal captain's future.

    Ronaldo was involved in an exchange with Cho during his side's World Cup defeat to South Korea on Friday, where he appeared to get into a verbal tussle with his opponent as he was substituted.

    The 37-year-old confirmed after the game that his frustrations had been with Cho, and not at Santos' decision to take him off.

    While Santos has put the matter behind him ahead of Portugal's last-16 tie with Switzerland on Tuesday, he made it clear he was not impressed by Ronaldo's reaction.

    "Did I see the images? I did," he said, in reference to footage of the incident. "Did I like it? Not at all. I really didn't like it at all.

    "But from then on, these matters are resolved internally. From there, we think about the next game, for which everyone will be focused. The matter is over."

    News emerged shortly before Santos' pre-match press conference that Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr were close to signing Ronaldo, who is a free agent after leaving Manchester United.

    "I haven't spoken to him about this. I didn't know about this," Santos said.

    "Someone only told me a few minutes ago. But that's his decision, and something that he has to deal with. We are focused on the World Cup and this team."

    Ronaldo has scored only once in Qatar, converting a penalty he won in Portugal's 3-2 win over Ghana in their opening Group H match.

    He became the first man to score at five different World Cups in the process, though he is yet to score in a knockout game in the competition.

    Indeed, only Brazil great Roberto Carlos has had more attempts (29) without scoring in the knockout stages than Ronaldo (25) since 1966.

  • Ronaldo set to sign for Saudi side Al Nassr Ronaldo set to sign for Saudi side Al Nassr

    Cristiano Ronaldo is set to sign for Saudi Professional League club Al Nassr on a two-and-a-half-year deal following his exit from Manchester United, according to reports.

    The Portugal forward saw his stint at Old Trafford brought to an early conclusion by mutual agreement last month following an inflammatory interview with Piers Morgan where he revealed his unhappiness with United and their manager Erik ten Hag.

    Ronaldo has been in action for Portugal at the World Cup in Qatar, scoring in their opening game of the tournament to become the first man to net at five different World Cups.

    The 37-year-old wished to leave United ahead of the 2022-23 season, and confirmed in his interview with Morgan that he had turned down a lucrative offer from a Saudi Arabian club.

    However, Marca on Monday reported that Riyadh-based side Al Nassr are close to signing the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

    A move to the gulf state would mark the end of Ronaldo's illustrious career in Europe, having starred for United, Juventus and Real Madrid - indeed, he is Los Blancos' record goalscorer.

    No player has scored more in the Champions League than Ronaldo, who is also the highest goalscorer in international football, with 188 to his name.

    At Al Nassr, he is expected to net close to €200million per season, with additional economic incentives, a sum that would make him the highest-paid athlete in the world.

    Al Nassr's squad also includes Cameroon's World Cup star Vincent Aboubakar and former Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina.

    Ronaldo originally returned to United ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, but has mostly been frozen out under new boss Erik ten Hag this season, prompting an explosive interview that contributed to his departure.

  • England are World Cup contenders, says Chelsea defender Koulibaly England are World Cup contenders, says Chelsea defender Koulibaly

    England must be considered among the world's very best sides and they are capable of going all the way in Qatar, says Kalidou Koulibaly.

    The Three Lions defeated Koulibaly's Senegal 3-0 on Sunday at Al Bayt Stadium to seal their place in the last eight of the World Cup.

    England, World Cup semi-finalists in 2018 and Euro 2020 finalists last year, are the tournament's leading scorers with 12 goals, while they have conceded only twice across their four matches.

    France are next up for England on Saturday and while Koulibaly knows the Les Bleus will provide the sternest of challenges, he believes Gareth Southgate's team have every chance of going even deeper into the tournament.

    "They are very good. We know that they have a lot of talent, a lot of big players, we know all of them," Koulibaly told reporters.

    "They played very well, they can go far, but the next game will be tough against France. I hope the best will win.

    "They have so many options but we know every game is different in the World Cup. You can score a lot in one game and then the next one will be difficult to score.

    "They have to keep going and believe it, I think they can go far."

    After losing to the Netherlands in their opening Group A match, Senegal – shorn of star player Sadio Mane through injury – beat Qatar and Ecuador to progress in second place, and Koulibaly is happy with what the Africa Cup of Nations champions have achieved in Qatar.

    He said: "It was a beautiful tournament for us. We wanted to get out of the group stage, we did it, and now it was a tough game against one of the best teams in the world. We can be proud of what we did."

    Koulibaly's Chelsea club-mate Edouard Mendy added: "Dealing with defeat is not difficult. We came up against a better team than us, we have to accept that, England played at their best.

    "They also had all their players at their disposal while we were missing some key players. We had to play without Sadio. We also had Idrissa [Gueye] and Cheikhou [Kouyate] missing.

    "So when you play against a team like that with key players missing, it is complicated.

    "But throughout the tournament and throughout the year, we have shown that Senegal is more than 11 players, it is a group.

    "We will continue to move forward, to progress and we will come back stronger in the 2026 World Cup, God willing."

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