Georginio Wijnaldum has given a unique insight into "special" Jurgen Klopp's man-management methods after revealing the Liverpool boss addressed his team ahead of the 2018 Champions League final wearing Cristiano Ronaldo-branded underwear.

The Reds boss has carved a reputation for his jovial antics and, according to midfielder Wijnaldum, the German's pre-match team-talk for the showdown against Real Madrid - for whom then-star player Ronaldo was the chief threat - was no exception after he lightened the mood in his own inimitable style.

"We saw he was wearing the boxer shorts of Cristiano Ronaldo," the Netherlands midfielder told The Athletic. 

"He did the meeting with his shirt stuffed inside his 'CR7' boxers. The whole changing room was on the floor laughing their heads off. That really broke the ice. Usually in those situations, everyone is serious and concentrated. But he was relaxed and made this joke.

"He's done hundreds of jokes likes that. If you see that your manager is really confident and relaxed, it will have an effect on players. He is a father figure in those things for the players. With his jokes and his body language, he takes the pressure off players."

Liverpool ultimately lost the game 3-1 but went one better the following season, defeating Tottenham 2-0 to claim a sixth triumph in Europe's premier competition.

It has cemented Klopp's status as one of the world's leading coaches and Wijnaldum has paid tribute to the German's man-management style.

Wijnaldum said: "He always tries to empathise with the other person, to feel what they're going through. He is a really special man for me. I see him as more than a manager - a really good friend."

He continued: "He is the kind of manager that will be angry about things in the game, or will show emotion during a game, but when it comes to half-time, he speaks with you and gives you confidence. 'You can do it better. You have to do this, have to do that…'

"He is one of the first managers I've had who doesn't get angry when you try to do the things that you are good at. He will never be angry when you try to use your talent or quality. Even if it goes wrong.

"Since I am at Liverpool, he has helped me a lot. Not only with football, but also as a person, the way you think about things. That is why I enjoy every day of working with him. I can be really mad at him one day. But the next day the anger is gone and we will love each other again."

Juventus, Roma, Napoli, Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain.

Where will Inter outcast Mauro Icardi end up before the transfer window shuts on September 2?

The Ligue 1 champions are reportedly interested in the former Inter captain.

 

TOP STORY – PSG WANT ICARDI IF NEYMAR LEAVES

According to journalist Tancredi Palmeri, Paris Saint-Germain are interested in signing Inter forward Icardi.

Icardi is not wanted at Inter, where he has been deemed surplus to requirements by head coach Antonio Conte.

And Icardi has reportedly been offered to PSG by Inter, who apparently want to block Paulo Dybala moving to Paris from Juventus.

Palmeri's column for Tuttomercatoweb insists Icardi's transfer to PSG depends on Neymar's departure, with Barcelona and Real Madrid eyeing the Brazilian.

 

ROUND-UP 

- The Neymar saga is ongoing as Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona try to strike a deal. Barca reportedly offered €80million plus Philippe Coutinho to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou, two years after his €222m departure. According to ESPN FC, Barca are willing to part with Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic as well as a fee.

Alexis Sanchez could be sent to Manchester United's reserves if he is not sold before the European window's closure, claims The Sun. United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is reportedly desperate to move on Sanchez, who has been linked to Roma.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter and Juventus will go head-to-head to sign Fiorentina and Italy star Federico Chiesa at the end of 2019-20. Chiesa is a wanted man but new Viola owner Rocco Commisso is unwilling to sell his prized €70m asset.

Roma are preparing a bid to bring in Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi. That is according to Sky Sport Italia, regardless of whether Edin Dzeko is sold to Inter. Batshuayi spent time on loan with Valencia and Crystal Palace last season.

Monaco have approached Juventus defender Daniele Rugani, claims Goal. Roma have also been linked to Rugani, however, reports in England say Liverpool's Dejan Lovren is the Giallorossi's first choice.

- According to Marca, Valencia want AC Milan striker Andre Silva to replace outgoing forward Rodrigo Moreno. Rodrigo is poised to join LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid and Silva is behind Krzysztof Piatek and Rafael Leao in Milan's pecking order. It comes as Milan try to wrap up a deal for Atletico forward Angel Correa.

Ajax star Donny van de Beek says he could stay at the club despite interest from "fantastic" Real Madrid.

The 22-year-old has already confirmed Madrid have contacted Ajax over a possible transfer as a successful move for Manchester United's Paul Pogba looks increasingly unlikely.

Van de Beek, who excelled in Ajax's run to the Champions League semi-finals last season, says there is nothing certain about his future but is not ruling out staying in Amsterdam.

"They're a fantastic club, but Ajax are too," he said to Ziggo Sport when asked about Madrid.

"I've nothing to complain about in that regard. There's a very good chance I'll continue playing here, but nothing is certain yet."

When pressed on whether it would be better for the club to have clarity on his future, he said: "I hope so, too, because I'm a bit fed up with all the questions about it."

Van de Beek was involved on Tuesday as Ajax claimed a 3-2 win over PAOK to secure a 5-4 aggregate triumph in the third round of Champions League qualifying.

Speaking ahead of that match, director of football Marc Overmars voiced his confidence that Van de Beek could decide to spend a little longer with the Eredivisie champions.

"I don't think it will take long for things to be clear," Overmars told Ziggo Sport.

When asked if he thought Van de Beek would stay, he replied: "I'll go for yes."

Overmars did, however, confirm there is "absolutely" interest in the player.

"I said a few weeks ago that, by a certain date, I want clarity. That date is set," he added.

Chelsea forward Pedro has compared Virgil van Dijk to Spain team-mate Sergio Ramos ahead of Chelsea's UEFA Super Cup meeting with Liverpool.

Frank Lampard's side, winners of the Europa League under Maurizio Sarri last season, take on Champions League holders Liverpool in Istanbul on Wednesday.

Van Dijk played a pivotal role as the Red became champions of Europe for the sixth time and finished second in the Premier League with a record 97 points.

The centre-back was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year for his performances in the top flight and Pedro sees similarities between the Netherlands star and Real Madrid captain Ramos.

"They are very good central defenders, probably at this time at the top," he said.

"Sergio Ramos is very good. I know him very well: great defender, great with the ball. Van Dijk is also the same: so strong, very good in the air, scores goals. Two big players.

"He's in a good moment. Last season with Liverpool, he had a great season winning the Champions League and the best player in the premier league. He's in a good moment and he's a good defender."

Pedro hopes to get the better of Van Dijk and Liverpool to secure a win what would represent his fourth UEFA Super Cup triumph, having lifted the trophy three times with Barcelona.

The 32-year-old thinks silverware this early in the season can only be good for Chelsea's confidence, especially in light of their 4-0 league defeat to Manchester United on Sunday.

"It's another trophy, it's good when you start the season winning a trophy – it's good for confidence, for the future," he said.

"Liverpool are a strong team with great players, a solid team, good on the counter. We need to read the game well, stay compact all the time and when we create chances we need to score if we want to win.

"It's my fourth Super Cup final. I was lucky enough to win the last three. I have good memories of the last final [in 2015]. The important thing is the mentality: to stay strong, stay compact."

Real Madrid would be among the favourites for this season's Champions League if they signed Neymar, according to Gheorghe Hagi.

The Brazil superstar has been linked to the LaLiga giants, as well as former club Barcelona, and he was absent as Paris Saint-Germain opened their Ligue 1 title defence with a 3-0 win over Nimes on Sunday.

PSG's sporting director Leonardo hinted Neymar – who cost a world-record €222million from Barca in 2017 – could be close to leaving the French capital.

Madrid have already signed Eden Hazard from Chelsea during the off-season and Hagi – who played for Los Blancos between 1990 and 1992 – says the addition of Neymar would make them a formidable force in the 2019-20 campaign.

"They can win easier," he told Super Deportivo Radio. "Without a doubt. If they sign Neymar and with the Hazard signing, they can win the Champions League again.

"[Zinedine] Zidane will then have to find a place for each one, but it's the best thing that can happen to a coach. You just have to motivate them."

Neymar has struggled to hit the heights of his time at Barca following his move to France, but Hagi is confident that he would rekindle his best form back in Spain.

"There are times that he is good and sometimes he is not," he added. "The value of the player is the same. He is a player who would do well for all the teams in the world."

Hagi was also drawn on the age-old debate of whether he prefers Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, with the 54-year-old opting for the Barca star.

"I would love to be his coach, but I confess that I choose Messi because I have a small weakness for him being left-footed," he explained.

"I was a left-footed footballer myself. I can't choose another one, it's my style." 

What does the future hold for Neymar?

That remains unclear. Though it is certain that the world's most expensive player wants to leave Paris just two years on from his €222million arrival in the French capital.

A return to former club Barcelona and a blockbuster move to Real Madrid are both options as this transfer saga drags on.

 

TOP STORY – TUCHEL WANTS DEMBELE IN NEYMAR DEAL

According to le10sport, Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel wants Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele included in any deal for wantaway star Neymar.

Neymar has been linked with a return to LaLiga champions Barcelona, as well as Real Madrid before the European transfer window shuts.

Having already splashed the cash on Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong, Barca are unable to meet PSG's demands in cash, so players and a sum of money has been mooted.

Philippe Coutinho is one played reportedly in the mix to move to PSG, though Tuchel wants to reunite with former Borussia Dortmund star Dembele.

 

ROUND-UP 

- Real Madrid will give up on signing Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba if they manage to sign Neymar from PSG, says The Sun. Los Blancos are desperate to beat Barca to Neymar's signature, reportedly willing to offer Isco, Marcelo or Raphael Varane plus cash for the Brazilian.

- Tottenham are ready to double Christian Eriksen's wages with a £200,000 per-week offer, according to the Daily Mail, as Juventus and Real Madrid continue to monitor the Denmark playmaker. Eriksen's current deal with Spurs expires at the end of this season.

- According to Gianluca Di Marzio, Ligue 1 side Monaco have joined the hunt to sign Inter outcast Mauro Icardi. Roma and Napoli are also interested in Icardi, however, Sportitalia claims the Argentina international only wants Juventus.

Napoli are eyeing former Tottenham striker Fernando Llorente, says Sky Sports. Llorente is a free agent after leaving Spurs. It comes as Napoli close in on PSV winger Hirving Lozano, with Corriere dello Sport reporting the Italian team have offered €60million for Icardi.

- The Corriere dello Sport also says AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma is close to leaving San Siro. PSG are the favourites to land Donnarumma thanks to sporting director Leonardo, who left Milan for PSG at the end of 2018-19.

Bayern Munich are interested in Barcelona playmaker Coutinho, reports Mundo Deportivo. A transfer depends on whether Coutinho is included in a deal to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou.

Cristiano Ronaldo said Zinedine Zidane made him feel special at the LaLiga giants as he hailed the Real Madrid head coach.

Ronaldo left Madrid ahead of the 2018-19 season, joining Juventus in a blockbuster €112million deal after three consecutive Champions League titles under Zidane.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner enjoyed great success during his time with Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu, also winning LaLiga in 2016-17.

Ronaldo heaped praise on Zidane – who is in his second stint in charge of Madrid – as he discussed the pair's relationship.

"The confidence that a player needs doesn't only come from himself but also from the players around him and the coach," Ronaldo told DAZN.

"You need to feel like you are an important part of the group and Zidane made me feel special.

"He helped me a lot. I already had a lot of respect for him but working with him made me admire him more.

"That's because of what he's like as a person, how he talks, how he led the team and how he treated me.

"He'd tell me, 'Cris, relax and just play your game - you are the one who is going to make the difference.'

"He was always honest with me and that's why I'll always have a real affection for him."

Ronaldo scored 21 Serie A goals in his first season with Italian champions Juventus, who won their eighth successive Scudetto.

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag said Donny van de Beek could stay at the Eredivisie champions despite interest from Real Madrid.

Van de Beek has already confirmed Madrid are in talks with Ajax over his transfer as the LaLiga giants struggle to prise Paul Pogba from Manchester United.

However, it seems €60million target and 22-year-old Netherlands international Van de Beek will remain in Amsterdam.

"[Van de Beek] only dedicates himself to playing," Ten Hag said ahead of Tuesday's second leg against PAOK, with the third-round Champions League qualifier locked at 2-2.

"I guess and I hope that he stays with us this season.

"Otherwise, I will hear from [Ajax's director of football,] Marc Overmars."

Van de Beek starred as Ajax earned a draw away to PAOK in the opening leg in Thessaloniki, while he has managed two goals in two Eredivisie matches this season.

He made 57 appearances for Ajax in 2018-19, scoring 17 goals and supplying 13 assists as Ten Hag's men clinched an Eredivisie and KNVB Beker double and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.

 

Wesley Sneijder's retirement announcement came as "a complete surprise" to his agent, who says the Netherlands great could yet continue playing.

Former Inter star Sneijder suggested on Monday his playing days were over as Utrecht announced a new business agreement with the 35-year-old.

However, the playmaker's representative, Guido Albers, says a final decision will not be made until he has met with Sneijder to discuss his plans.

"It was a complete surprise for us that he announced it this way," he said to FOX Sports.

"I had planned a meeting with him next Thursday to discuss the options he still has and then we were going to decide how to announce this to the public. So, next Thursday we can decide if this decision is certain."

"He has some things to do in Doha, where he still lives and there are still a few clubs who probably want to sign him, so I'd like to tell him about that.

"He just came back from America. We will discuss it on Thursday and then he can decide what to do. Normally you consult each other about these things, but I think he just announced it in all his enthusiasm today."

Sneijder had told Utrecht's official TV channel: "I have a lot of love for this city. Now that I've quit playing, I want a nice place to share my experiences."

The all-time leading appearance-maker for Netherlands has been without a club since his contract with Al-Gharafa expired last month.

Former Netherlands star Wesley Sneijder has retired from football after arranging a business deal with Eredivisie side Utrecht.

The 35-year-old has been without a club since his 18-month deal with Qatari side Al-Gharafa ended in July.

He has signed a contract with Utrecht's business arm and will be able to watch the team play from a private box this season.

"I have a lot of love for this city. Now that I've quit playing, I want a nice place to share my experiences," he told the club's TV channel.

Sneijder began his senior playing days with Ajax in 2002 and went on to play for Real Madrid, Inter, Galatasaray and Nice in a storied career in Europe.

He was a star performer for Jose Mourinho's Inter side of 2009-10, which won the treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League titles.

Sneijder then inspired Netherlands to the final of the 2010 World Cup, where they lost 1-0 to Spain, and won the Silver Ball as the tournament's second-best player.

His omission from the final three-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or of the same year was widely considered to be unjust.

Sneijder played 134 times for Netherlands from 2003 to 2018, becoming the most capped Dutch player of all time.

Neymar may be close to securing his return to Barcelona after all.

After leaving Barca for a world-record fee in 2017, Neymar has made it clear he wants out of Paris Saint-Germain and re-joining the LaLiga champions has emerged as an option.

While Real Madrid have been linked, Neymar could be granted a Camp Nou comeback.

 

TOP STORY – PSG EYE COUTINHO IN NEYMAR TRANSFER

Paris Saint-Germain would accept Philippe Coutinho in a deal that would send Neymar back to Barcelona, reports RMC Sport.

Neymar sat out Sunday's 3-0 Ligue 1 victory over Nimes amid links to Barca and LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

Talks between PSG and Barca have hit an impasse as the French champions look to recoup most of the €222million they invested in Neymar two years ago.

Barca have already invested heavily in the transfer market, however, talks between the two clubs have accelerated thanks to the possible inclusion of Coutinho and cash. At the other end of the spectrum, Sport says talks have stalled as PSG demand three players in addition to a fee.

 

ROUND-UP 

- Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is top of Inter's wish list before the transfer window shuts in Europe. Tuttosport claims Mauro Icardi's possible exit to either Juventus or Napoli would finance a deal for the Serbia international, who was tipped to move to Manchester United if Paul Pogba left for Real Madrid. Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic is also a target for Inter, according to reports in Spain.

- The window may have closed in England, however, The Sun says Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard wants to sign Leicester City full-back Ben Chilwell when the club's transfer ban ends.

- Inter winger Ivan Perisic is scheduled to undergo a medical at Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, according to Corriere dello Sport. Former Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg star Perisic is poised to return to Germany via Bayern on a season-long loan deal with the option to buy.

- Tuttosport says Juventus full-back Luca Pellegrini is set to re-join Cagliari on loan. Pellegrini – who spent the second half of last season on loan at Cagliari – only arrived in Turin from Roma in June.

Napoli are poised to sign PSV star Hirving Lozano, according to Calciomercato. The Mexico international's agent Mino Raiola has reportedly travelled to Naples to wrap up a deal.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel defended Neymar after the wantaway star was targeted by the club's own supporters during Sunday's Ligue 1 win over Nimes.

Neymar – tipped to leave the French champions amid links to Barcelona and Real Madrid – sat out the 3-0 victory against Nimes as PSG opened their title defence with three points.

Amid growing speculation over an imminent departure, sections of the Parc des Princes aimed derogatory chants towards Neymar before and during the match.

"It's a little difficult, I don't know what to say. I saw [the public's reaction on Neymar] on my colleagues' phones because I hadn't heard that during the game," Tuchel said about the chants directed at Neymar.

"Can I understand that? Yes and no, that's the way it is in our lives. The emotions are serious, the emotions are still there, okay. But on the other hand, Neymar is still our player, still my player, and I will always protect my players. He's in the locker room, he's here and I'll protect him.

"I can understand that not everyone likes what he said and what he did. I understand, but we have to express a level to express our emotion."

Asked if PSG missed Neymar against Nimes, Tuchel added: "He is still missing, because he can find solutions that only he can find. He can open spaces with movements, accelerations, one against the other.

"It was a little lacking today to be more decisive in the first half. But we have to find other solutions, we have to give rhythm with passes, with intensive runs. But it's clear, he's Neymar, and he has extraordinary qualities. If he is not on the field, he is missing, but it is our challenge to find solutions. We still have to improve."

While Neymar was absent on Sunday, Edinson Cavani, last season's top scorer Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria led the way for PSG in Paris.

After Cavani broke the deadlock via the penalty spot in the first half, Mbappe and Di Maria put the result beyond doubt following the interval.

"The best thing is that they [Neymar and Mbappe] play together," Tuchel said. "It is not a question of whether Mbappe can give more when Neymar is not there.

"Kylian gives a lot, he's been very focused for four weeks now. He puts a lot of intensity into training, into matches. It's great for the team to improve. But the best thing is that Neymar is next to him."

Mbappe, who hinted he could be ready for a "new project" following the 2018-19 season, scored a Ligue 1-high 33 goals as PSG retained their crown last term.

"As I said last year, he is invited by the club to take more responsibilities every day. Taking responsibilities does not mean taking every penalty, hitting every corner or every free-kick," Tuchel continued. "It's not like that, there are many ways to take responsibilities, and he does that.

"He started this season with a lot of concentration, I'm very happy. He's here, I have a feeling he's happy. He has objectives for himself and the team, and he does everything to achieve them. He gives his opinion, and we're going to keep developing that. He has a good relationship with everyone, he is reliable."

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insists Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez have "100 per cent" of his backing but refused to rule out their sales before the end of the transfer window.

Bale and James have been strongly linked with the Madrid exit throughout the close season, but so far the club have been unable to shift them.

James has been interesting Napoli and Atletico Madrid following his return after two years on loan at Bayern Munich, while Bale almost joined Chinese side Jiangsu Suning last month before the move collapsed.

Colombia international James has not featured once in pre-season for Madrid, while Bale missed their previous three games before coming on as a substitute in Sunday's penalties defeat to Roma, a game that finished 2-2 after 90 minutes.

Zidane is adamant both players can consider themselves part of the squad, though he did little to clarify the future of either.

"James and Bale are players of the squad," Zidane told reporters after the match in Rome. "They are both registered, but anything can happen and I, as a coach of Real Madrid, must count on them.

"I count on them 100 per cent. James has not been summoned [to the squad recently], but this can change. Even before the end of the transfer window, everything can happen."

Although the new season starts next weekend in Spain, the transfer window will remain open until September 2, giving Madrid plenty of time to bring in further additions.

Neymar and Paul Pogba are two players linked with the club, but Zidane was in no mood to entertain speculation.

When asked about Pogba and Neymar, Zidane said: "We are with what we have and we only think about that. Our mind is only thinking about Saturday [the match against Celta Vigo]."

Gareth Bale returned to the Real Madrid team from the bench as Los Blancos lost 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 friendly draw with Roma in their final pre-season match on Sunday.

Bale had not featured in any of Madrid's past three friendlies, missing the defeat to his former club Tottenham and the wins over Fenerbahce and Salzburg.

Officially, his absence for the Spurs game was due to an illness, though he was spotted playing golf the same day as the match and reportedly missed out due to his state of mind after a transfer to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning fell through.

He was left out again for the Salzburg game, though no explanation was given by coach Zinedine Zidane.

By the time he was introduced in Rome on Sunday, the match had already seen four goals – Marcelo opening the scoring for Madrid early on, producing a fine right-footed finish after a flowing move.

Diego Perotti levelled just past the half-hour mark, tapping in after excellent work from Nicolo Zaniolo, but Casemiro restored Madrid's lead soon after, heading in from Marcelo's delivery.

Edin Dzeko levelled a minute later – latching on to Cengiz Under's sublime throughball and clinically finishing first-time into the top-right corner.

Bale replaced Karim Benzema in the 61st minute but, aside from one outside-of-the-foot effort from the Wales star, his impact was minimal as the match finished level, leading to a shoot-out.

The first nine penalties – including Bale's – were immaculately taken, but Marcelo's kick crashed against the crossbar and bounced the wrong side of the line, ensuring Roma won the Mabel Green Cup, a friendly competition set up to raise awareness of environmental preservation.

Roma captain Alessandro Florenzi received the trophy - essentially a large bonsai tree - from Indian actress and environmentalist Esha Gupta.

Zinedine Zidane named Gareth Bale in his squad for the first time in four matches, but there was still no place for James Rodriguez as Real Madrid flew to Italy ahead of their clash with Roma.

Bale's last appearance for Madrid came as a substitute in the second half of a 7-3 defeat to rivals Atletico Madrid in the International Champions Cup on July 27, shortly before a proposed transfer away from the Spanish club fell through.

The Wales international had been expected to join Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning but the deal collapsed, with reports suggesting Madrid were unhappy with the transfer fee being offered.

There was also speculation that Bale rejected the move over family reasons.

Bale did not feature in friendlies against Tottenham, Fenerbahce and Salzburg, but was named in the squad to face Roma along with fellow forwards Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema, Luka Jovic and Vinicius Junior.

The absence of James from the Madrid squad means the Colombia international's future remains unclear, with Napoli and Atletico Madrid both reportedly interested in signing him.

James has not featured for Madrid this pre-season following his return from a two-year loan spell at Bayern Munich.

Meanwhile, a hamstring injury keeps close-season signing Ferland Mendy on the sidelines as Madrid play their last pre-season fixture before Saturday's LaLiga opener at Celta Vigo.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.