Ousmane Dembele is "still like a child" and needs guidance in order to fulfil his potential, according to former Barcelona team-mate Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Boateng spent the latter part of the 2018-19 season playing alongside Dembele at Camp Nou while on loan from Sassuolo and he opened up about the France international's temperament in an interview with Bild.

Dembele has earned a reputation for his poor timekeeping having been suspended for Barcelona's defeat to Real Betis last season after missing a training session and France coach Didier Deschamps publicly lambasted him, saying: "I know about his excuses when he turns up late."

Barcelona stuck by the 22-year-old in the face of speculation that he might leave the club, for whom he scored eight goals in 29 LaLiga appearances last season, but Boateng urged the Blaugrana to nurture his talent.

"He is very calm, and does not talk much," Boateng told Bild.

"He is still like a child to me. You have to take him as he is and it may be that he arrives late.

"There are players who do that in defiance, but that's different with him. He's just like a little boy – one who earns a lot of money, one who is extremely public."

Boateng's stay with the LaLiga champions was short-lived and he made just three league appearances during a five-month spell at the club.

In contrast, Dembele is someone Barca coach Ernesto Valverde and president Josep Maria Bartomeu seem keen to keep hold of as he embarks upon his third season in Catalonia.

Boateng warned Barcelona: "You have to point him in the right direction. If he does not learn then it is his fault.

"For me, he's still a little boy who was thrown into this huge pool, suddenly costing 150 million euros overnight and somehow does not even know how everything works – because he just wants to play football."

Marseille winger Florian Thauvin is expected to miss the rest of the first half of the season as he prepares to undergo keyhole surgery to correct an ankle problem he sustained in April.

Thauvin was injured during Marseille's 3-1 victory at Guingamp on April 20 and exacerbated the problem in training, although he recovered in time to help his side finish the 2018-19 season with back-to-back victories as they claimed fifth place in Ligue 1.

However, the issue continued to hamper the France international, who has played just 10 minutes as a substitute in the top flight this term, and he has made the decision to go under the knife in order to return to full fitness.

A statement on the club's official website said: "Florian Thauvin suffered an accidental ankle injury in a match about four and a half months ago.

"This type of lesion, small, very localised, usually allows [the player] to resume after appropriate care and rest. His current progress has allowed him to return to the group but the player still feels a discomfort.

"In order to be able to return to 100 per cent of his capacity, Florian and Olympique de Marseille have decided to carry out a small operation (arthroscopy) in the coming days.

"His period of unavailability should last until the winter break."

The news means Thauvin is likely to be out of action until January, with Ligue 1's mid-season break scheduled to run from December 20 until January 10.

Thauvin's injury problems hampered his side's progress last season, with a heel injury in October 2018 forcing him to miss a Europa League defeat to Lazio before his April absence left Marseille short of creativity at a key stage in the season.

Andre Villas-Boas' side had a mixed start to the new campaign, recovering from an opening-day defeat at home to Reims to go unbeaten in their past three league matches.

Marseille travel to Stade Louis II to face Monaco in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

Mauro Icardi's decision to turn down Napoli and join Paris Saint-Germain was a move the Italian club's president Aurelio De Laurentiis found understandable.

Icardi joined PSG on an initial loan deal ahead of the closure of the transfer window, having become a fringe figure at Inter following the arrival of coach Antonio Conte, who signed Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.

The Argentina striker had previously endured frosty relations with the Nerazzurri, too, and his departure always seemed likely.

De Laurentiis confirmed he made a move for Icardi, yet he had no issue with the player opting to join the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani at PSG instead.

"To buy [Icardi], I came to Inter with an offer of €60million, plus bonuses for a total of €65million," he told Corriere dello Sport. "For Wanda Nara, for her husband's contract, I proposed a gross of about €12million.

"Icardi is not stupid and perhaps he understood that to re-launch himself at European level, it was the best choice to go to a team like PSG, where he can stand out more easily than at Napoli."

Napoli instead signed Fernando Llorente following his release from Tottenham.

And De Laurentiis revealed head coach Carlo Ancelotti had made Llorente his preferred option all along.

"Llorente wasn't my idea but rather Ancelotti's," he said. "No-one would have turned their back on a top player like Icardi but, from the first moment, Ancelotti wanted Llorente.

"He argued that, in attack, we were already heavily stocked and only needed a champion to play in the last 30 minutes of games that required unlocking."

Therefore, with Arkadiusz Milik another option, De Laurentiis has no regrets about the failed transfer.

"I never regret in life. The arrival of Icardi would have prevented the purchase of Llorente, of whom I am as convinced as Ancelotti," he said.

"Above all, he would have overshadowed Milik, who I continue to consider the true big star of the Napoli attack."

Tite insists the changes he made to the Brazil team against Peru were not to protect players for club duty as he instead used the opportunity to assess his squad.

Neymar, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva and Arthur and all dropped to the bench, having started the 2-2 draw against Colombia, and Brazil saw their 17-match unbeaten run ended in Los Angeles.

Luis Abram scored the only goal with an 85th-minute header for Peru, by which point Neymar had been introduced as a substitute.

Tite defended his team selection, though, insisting it was important to look at some new players following the Copa America, with Vinicius Junior making his debut.

"The most important thing was the team," Tite said. "The opportunities and changes were what I understood to be best in the moment, not to protect the players on the return to their clubs.

"I made the changes thinking about the Selecao.

"After the Copa America, another stage of opportunities began. It is only natural that we would not reach the same level of performance. I like to give opportunities to play - this is fundamental."

Meanwhile, Tite followed Fagner and Marquinhos in criticising the LA Memorial Coliseum pitch, which had been used by Argentina and Chile on Thursday.

"The pitch influences performance, this can't happen," he said. "There are risks of injuries.

"There is no excuse for defeat, I don't want to say that. Do not take only part of what I am saying. The opponent had a strategy and won.

"But this cannot happen in high level football. You can't have the field in this condition."

Casemiro has told Real Madrid team-mate Vinicius Junior to start thinking about the Ballon d'Or and other major prizes after making his Brazil debut.

Vinicius made his first appearance for the Selecao in Tuesday's underwhelming 1-0 defeat to Peru, Brazil's first loss since last year's World Cup.

The 19-year-old has started 10 LaLiga matches across the past two seasons, too, and Casemiro believes he needs to be aiming high.

"Vinicius has a very good head and, in the past year, he has surprised many people with the football he played," the midfielder told reporters.

"It is not normal for a 19-year-old boy to do what he did with the Real Madrid shirt. I told him the other day that this year is a year that he has to start thinking big.

"I repeat: what he did last year was not normal. He surprised everyone and showed that he is ready to be a starter at Real Madrid.

"When you are a starting Real Madrid player, you have to think big. Think of the Ballon d'Or, FIFA's World XI. He is a great player and he has already proven it.

"Of course, he is very young, you cannot put too much pressure and weight on his back. But I think he has to start thinking big.

"It is very important for us that he is here with the national team, but we have to be calm; two years ago he was playing in the Flamengo youth team."

Gregg Berhalter believes the United States were given the sort of physical test they can expect in World Cup qualifying by Uruguay on Tuesday.

USA failed to qualify from the CONCACAF section for Russia 2018 but are rebuilding under Berhalter ahead of the next cycle.

Days on from a humbling 3-0 defeat to rivals Mexico, USA held Uruguay to a 1-1 draw - equalising through Jordan Morris after Brian Rodriguez's opener - and Berhalter was impressed by his team's spirit.

The coach suggested the Uruguay match in St Louis, where the hosts bossed 60 per cent of possession, would ultimately prove more useful than the clash with Mexico.

"We just played two different teams with two very important challenges," Berhalter told a news conference.

"Against CONCACAF teams, we will play teams that are very compact [like Uruguay]. We have to understand how to break those teams down. Mexico were a totally different challenge.

"Mexico are a high-pressing, active team in front of a loud, boisterous crowd. Mexico presented us with good challenges but also good learning opportunities.

"We talked about how this opponent [Uruguay] were going to be compact and be physical. I think the team did a great job on set-pieces.

"More importantly, it was about the tenacity of our guys and the relentlessness of our guys to hang in there and keep battling. We did a good job, particularly in the first half, of keeping our structure."

Tata Martino will not feel too low after his first defeat as Mexico head coach, believing neither the big defeat to Argentina nor their long unbeaten run showed their true state.

Former Barcelona boss Martino was appointed El Tri coach in January and enjoyed a sensational start to his new role, beating Chile in a March friendly and then winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

But an 11-match unbeaten run came to an end on Tuesday as Argentina, Martino's former team and the last side to have beaten Mexico before their streak, ran out 4-0 winners in San Antonio.

Lautaro Martinez scored a hat-trick before being substituted at half-time, with all four goals coming in the first 45 minutes.

Martino explained: "I do not think this is our reality - nor do I believe that having 11 games without losing is our reality.

"Of the 'A' class [of team], this is the second game we played - the first was against Chile and the substantial difference is that tonight we made mistakes.

"Argentina could hurt us because there were 15 minutes where we played well and then the breakdown starts from an error.

"To learn from this, we need to play more major games of this stature. We must look to try to compete with the best in order to be able to take that leap we want to take."

LA Galaxy midfielder Jonathan dos Santos offered a similar assessment, frustrated by Argentina's ability to punish Mexico, who dominated possession but were outdone on the break.

"I think the team started well," he said. "I feel that the goals for Argentina were more our mistakes than their successes. We know that we cannot make these mistakes against these teams.

"We have to lift our heads, we are still working very well. The team is confident and I think it is a defeat that will make us learn."

Antoine Griezmann believes it would be a "very good" stance to stop matches in the case of homophobia or racism in the stands, disagreeing with French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet.

FFF chief Le Graet this week called for games to continue in spite of homophobic chanting or displays following a worrying number of incidents in French football.

But World Cup winner Griezmann, speaking after France's 3-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win over Andorra, was in support of halting play.

The Barcelona star believes stopping matches would be an effective way to prevent future incidents.

"For me, it's very good to stop the matches, whether for homophobic songs or racist songs," Griezmann told RTL.

"If we stop the matches, people will not be happy and they will stop doing it."

French president Emmanuel Macron called for the Ligue de Football Professionnel and its clubs to take responsibility and address the issue.

Ligue 1 games in Nice and Metz were paused in the space of a week last month after discriminatory banners were seen in the crowd.

Elsewhere, a second-tier encounter between Nancy and Le Mans in August was stopped by match officials following instructions to intervene in the event of homophobic chanting or displays.

Lionel Scaloni was delighted with the application of his Argentina side against Mexico, claiming they played "a perfect game" in a 4-0 victory.

Lautaro Martinez hit a first-half hat-trick as Argentina, still without Lionel Messi, ended Tata Martino's unbeaten start to life as Mexico coach in style, with Leandro Paredes also on target from the penalty spot.

Scaloni's men ceded possession to their opponents at San Antonio's Alamodome, but the coach saw his plan work to a tee and hailed the team's spirit.

"We knew the way that Mexico would play and we came out quickly to create some chances," he told a news conference. "We are happy because we played a perfect game.

"We knew that Mexico would dominate the opening minutes and that's why we were prepared to go out on the counter-attack.

"We gave the feeling that we are a team - that's the important thing. Everyone played for their lives, for their team-mates and for wanting to be in the Argentina team.

"We knew that if we recovered the ball, we would have to get it quickly to the striker.

"It's no good if we just defend well. We analysed Mexico a lot and we were courageous enough to do what we had to do in this match.

"We want an Argentina team that is competitive, where our opponents respect us."

Martinez was substituted at half-time, with Scaloni revealing the striker had been carrying a knock prior to the match, joking the Inter star appeared to play better injured.

"The change was planned, because he had some discomfort," the coach said. "Hopefully he can continue playing with discomfort."

Fagner called on Brazil to learn from Tuesday's defeat to Peru, although both he and Marquinhos criticised the LA Memorial Coliseum pitch.

Brazil were beaten for the first time since their 2018 World Cup reverse to Belgium, ending a 17-match unbeaten run, as they lost 1-0 to a late Luis Abram goal.

But Fagner insists the South American champions never questioned the threat of their opponents, who they defeated in the Copa America final.

The right-back, who started, with Dani Alves on the bench, hoped Brazil would be able to grow from a rare loss.

"We know the strength of South American football. There is no poor team," Fagner told TV Globo. "We played a consistent game and created chances to score. We were penalised by a set-piece at the end of the game.

"We need to grow and mature as soon as possible with these types of games to improve for the World Cup qualifiers.

"These games have to make us grow as a team. We know the importance of winning, of working calmly towards victory. But we also know that defeats can happen. This has to make us grow."

Fagner added the firm pitch in Los Angeles, used to hosting American football games, "undoubtedly" contributed to the defeat, and team-mate Marquinhos concurred.

"I think it was a very close game. We came from two good games against them and good results," Marquinhos said. "We knew they would come for the result and they did what they had to do.

"The pitch didn't help much. The ball bounced a lot. We tried to force passes through the middle, but both teams misplaced a lot. We knew it was a one-goal game and they were happy from set-pieces."

David Beckham and Inter Miami have set their sights on Lionel Messi.

Messi, 32, has regularly been linked with one day switching to MLS and it appears Inter are making their move.

Beckham seems to be trying his best to land the Barcelona superstar.

 

TOP STORY – BECKHAM IN TALKS WITH MESSI OVER INTER MIAMI MOVE

Beckham has spoken to Messi about joining Inter Miami, according to Catalunya Radio.

It comes in the wake of reports the forward can leave Barcelona at the end of any season, regardless of when his contract runs until.

The economic bid for Messi would be "brutal", the report said, as Inter look to sign the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

ROUND-UP

- Inter Miami may not stop there. The MLS club, due to begin playing in 2020, are also eyeing Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, according to AS. Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti has previously said he is open to coaching Inter Miami.

- After the latest transfer saga ended with Neymar staying at Paris Saint-Germain, it is set to come back to life in January. PSG sporting director Leonardo wants the Brazil international to leave the Ligue 1 champions, according to Tuttosport, and a move could happen in January, with Barcelona and Real Madrid sure to again be linked.

- Barcelona are already looking ahead and are set to track Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz throughout this season, Mundo Deportivo reports. Fabian joined the Serie A side from Real Betis for a reported €30million in July last year.

- Expecting their transfer ban to be cut, Chelsea have identified Nice defender Youcef Atal as a target, according to The Sun. The Algeria international is also wanted by Valencia, Calciomercato.com reports.

- AC Milan have identified Stade Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga as a player to follow, according to Calciomercato.com. The 16-year-old made seven Ligue 1 appearances last season.

- Gonzalo Higuain is continuing to turn around his career at Juventus. Calciomercato.com says the forward – linked with a move away throughout the close season – will start alongside Cristiano Ronaldo when the Serie A champions face Fiorentina on Saturday.

France coach Didier Deschamps admitted he would discuss penalties with Antoine Griezmann, but backed the forward to continue taking spot-kicks.

Griezmann missed a second penalty in as many games, failing to convert in a 3-0 win over Andorra in Euro 2020 qualifying on Tuesday.

The Barcelona forward was far more convincing at last year's World Cup, converting three penalties during France's run to the title.

Those efforts have Deschamps upbeat about Griezmann from the spot, but the coach admitted he would hold talks with the 28-year-old.

"Antoine, he doesn't gamble. When he had to score them, he scored them," he said, via RMC Sport.

"When they were decisive, he didn't tremble. It remains two failures.

"I will talk about it perhaps with him knowing, if there is another to shoot in October, he'll be there."

Griezmann became the first France player to miss two consecutive penalties over the past 10 seasons, having scored his first seven for his nation.

France are top of Group H in qualifying after collecting 15 points from six games.

Lautaro Martinez was "happy and excited" after scoring a hat-trick for Argentina in an impressive friendly win over Mexico on Tuesday.

Martinez struck a first-half hat-trick in Texas as Lionel Scaloni's men ended Mexico's unbeaten record under Gerardo Martino with a 4-0 victory.

Inter forward Martinez, who impressed at the Copa America earlier this year, dominated, producing three clinical finishes for his first international hat-trick.

Martinez, 22, was delighted with his performance as he moved onto nine goals for Argentina in 13 appearances.

"I am happy and excited," he said, via the team's Twitter account.

"There is a lot of sacrifice that one makes to be here and not every day three goals are made with this shirt."

While scoring three times, Martinez also helped Argentina win a penalty that was converted by Leandro Paredes in a ruthless opening 45 minutes.

The former Racing Club forward paid tribute to his team-mates after his match-winning hat-trick.

"It is very difficult to get here and stay. There are very good players," Martinez said.

"I am very happy and grateful to my team-mates and the coaching staff. We train to give joy to the national team. Hopefully we continue along this path."

Luis Abram was the hero as Peru exacted some revenge over Brazil with a 1-0 victory in a rematch of the Copa America final.

Brazil claimed their ninth Copa America title by beating Peru 3-1 in South America's showpiece tournament decider in July.

But defender Abram's 85th-minute header saw Peru past Brazil in Los Angeles on Tuesday, while condemning the Selecao to their first defeat since the 2018 World Cup.

Neymar started on the bench as Tite made four changes to his line-up that drew 2-2 against Colombia, with David Neres, Eder Militao and Allan coming in for the PSG star, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva and Arthur.

It was a scrappy match on a pitch that still showed the marks of American football in Los Angeles, where NFL franchise the Rams and the NCAA's USC Trojans are tenants.

While there was plenty of energy and endeavour from Peru, chances were few and far between in the first half – Edison Flores' volley in the 23rd minute the closest either team went to breaking the deadlock.

After Neres went down inside the area under a risky challenge from captain Luis Advincula amid appeals for a penalty, Flores then produced an instinctive volley to force Brazil goalkeeper Ederson into a save.

There was a nasty clash of heads between Brazil team-mates Casemiro and Neres just past the half-hour mark, but both players managed to play on.

Pedro Gallese came to Peru's rescue four minutes into the second half. Richarlison played a delightful throughball to Allan but the goalkeeper was quick off his mark to deny the Brazil midfielder his first international goal.

A drilled effort from Philippe Coutinho caused problems for Gallese just past the hour-mark before Neymar's introduction, and while the latter provided some spark, there was to be no breakthrough for Brazil.

Just as the match looked to be petering out for a draw, a delightful free-kick from Yoshimar Yotun picked out Abram, whose deft touch beat Ederson and found the back of the net.

 

What does it mean? Peru end Brazil's unbeaten run

Since losing to Belgium in the World Cup quarter-finals last year, Brazil had gone 17 matches without defeat. However, that impressive run came to a shock end in LA.

Abram opens account in style

Making his 17th appearance, Abram emerged the unlikely hero for Peru. His late header not only silenced Brazil but saw the 23-year-old celebrate his first international goal.

Neymar poised for Selecao century

After marking his first appearance back with a goal and an assist against Colombia last time out, Neymar was a second-half substitute in LA. The 27-year-old's appearance, though, was his 99th on the international stage – moving him clear of Ronaldo and Djalma Santos for seventh in the all-time Brazil standings, still well adrift of Cafu's appearance record of 142.

What's next?

Brazil will return to action in October with a friendly against Thailand in Singapore and another fixture that is yet to be determined. Peru, meanwhile, are set to take on Uruguay in a pair of friendlies next month.

Lautaro Martinez stole the show to lead Argentina to an impressive 4-0 win over Mexico in a friendly in Texas on Tuesday.

Martinez scored a stunning first-half hat-trick at the Alamodome as Lionel Scaloni's men ran riot in the opening 45 minutes.

Inter forward Martinez was the star, netting three times and also helping Argentina – without the suspended Lionel Messi – win a penalty that was converted by Leandro Paredes.

Martinez came off at the break after putting Argentina in complete control as they saw out a comprehensive victory.

It was quite the way for Mexico to be handed their first defeat under head coach Gerardo Martino, who took over in January.

Mexico could have been awarded an early penalty for a handball, but instead fell behind in the 17th minute.

Martinez received a pass from Paredes 30 yards from goal, running at the Mexico defence and beating three markers before placing a left-footed strike into the bottom corner.

Just five minutes later and Martinez doubled his, and Argentina's, tally.

Exequiel Palacios put in a beautiful throughball for Martinez's well-timed run, the forward producing a first-time finish into the bottom corner.

Argentina's incredible start continued when they were awarded a penalty for a Carlos Salcedo handball, the ball hitting the defender's outstretched arm after a Martinez flick.

Paredes stepped up and while Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa got a hand on the spot-kick, it found the bottom corner to make it 3-0.

Martinez had Mexico panicking and it showed as he remarkably completed a first-half hat-trick.

The 22-year-old's first touch after a Palacios pass let him down but Nestor Araujo was unable to deal with the loose ball, Martinez claiming possession again before firing past Ochoa.

Martinez came off at half-time and Argentina almost struck again six minutes into the second half, Ochoa saving a strike from Rodrigo De Paul.

Substitutions impacted the rhythm of the contest, although Argentina were never in trouble after Martine's first-half heroics.

 

What does it mean? Scaloni's Argentina produce one of their best

Scaloni has faced plenty of criticism since taking the helm, but Tuesday's first half was undoubtedly one of Argentina's best since he was named coach in August last year. Martinez's performance helped, but they denied Mexico clear-cut chances and were clinical.

Martinez marvellous for Argentina

The Inter forward had Mexico's defence worried throughout and he took his chances. Palacios' wonderful pass set up Martinez's second, but it was otherwise the former Racing Club doing all the hard work to move onto nine international goals.

Martino unable to stop Mexico's Argentina woe

Under Martino, Mexico have shown they can contend with South American sides, beating Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela and Ecuador during an 11-match unbeaten streak with the former Barcelona boss in charge. But they are now winless in their past 10 meetings with Argentina, a run dating back to the 2004 Copa America.

What's next?

Argentina will take on Germany in a friendly next month, while Mexico meet Trinidad and Tobago before CONCACAF Nations League clashes with Bermuda and Panama.

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