Rumour Has It: Neymar flirting with Barcelona return and Messi reunion

By Sports Desk April 29, 2021

Neymar's future at Paris Saint-Germain remains strangely undecided.

The 29-year-old Brazilian has said he is happy in Paris but speculation continues to bubble away.

Neymar is out of contract in 2022 and is reportedly discussing a renewal with PSG until 2026.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR TEMPTED BY BARCELONA RETURN

Neymar continues to flirt privately with a return to Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Publicly, the Brazil star has declared he is happy with PSG but in no rush to re-sign, yet there are behind-the-scenes rumblings, potentially part of contract manoeuvring.

Neymar is reportedly obsessed with playing alongside Lionel Messi again at Camp Nou and continues to keep that option open.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are still in the market for a right-winger with Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho top of their list, according to 90 Min.

- The Sun reports that Chelsea are preparing to launch a £90million-plus offer to bring Romelu Lukaku back to the club from Inter.

- Chelsea are also open to offers for forward Tammy Abraham this off-season, with an asking price of £40m, claims The Telegraph.

- Arsenal wants to sign Norwich City full-back Max Aarons as a replacement for Hector Bellerin, whom they are prepared to offload, reports 90 Min.

- Juventus' Turkish defender Merih Demiral is in the sights of Everton, according to Calciomercato.

- AS claims that Atletico Madrid may ask Juventus to swap Paulo Dybala as compensation to permanently sign on-loan forward Alvaro Morata.

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  • Neymar deal demonstrates PSG's ambition, says Pochettino Neymar deal demonstrates PSG's ambition, says Pochettino

    Paris Saint-Germain have reinforced their ambitions with the new four-year deal signed by superstar forward Neymar, according to Mauricio Pochettino.

    After months of speculation, Neymar finally committed his future to PSG on Saturday.

    The world's most expensive footballer joined the club in 2017 and has helped them to three successive Ligue 1 titles, two Coupe de France triumphs and the Coupe de la Ligue twice.

    However, Neymar has been unable to propel PSG to Champions League glory, while his attempts to win the Ballon d'Or – often cited as one of the major factors behind his big-money move from Barcelona – have also proved fruitless so far.

    Nevertheless, tying the 29-year-old down to a new contract has been a priority for PSG, who are also hoping to secure the long-term future of Kylian Mbappe. Links to Lionel Messi are sure to continue too, unless the Argentine superstar commits himself to Barca.

    "It shows the ambitions this football club have," Pochettino declared ahead of Sunday's crucial clash with Rennes in Ligue 1, which comes five days after a Champions League exit at the hands of Manchester City.

    "Not just for the present but also for the future. That shows everyone how this club thinks about the future, trying to improve and win, which is the main goal, even when we are in a complicated situation as we are now."

    Pochettino also conceded his main task is to blend together the supreme individual talents he has at his disposal, adding: "The PSG family is happy for extending the contract of a player like Neymar.

    "Our challenge is, with all the talent our players have, to play as a team. To put their talent in service for the whole team, to use their individual talent to improve the team as a collective.

    "That is our challenge for the future. It is always easier to build up the future of your team with a player like Neymar, who is committed to stay here much longer."

    NEYMAR AT PSG – BY THE NUMBERS

    Neymar has made 112 appearances for PSG, scoring 85 goals.

    His tally of 45 assists means he has registered 130 goal involvements, though that is some way short of the 182 Mbappe has managed since arriving from Monaco.

    Mbappe does, however, take more minutes per goal involvement, scoring or assisting every 71 minutes in Ligue 1, while Neymar either scores or assists every 68 minutes, which is the best rate in the competition since Opta began recording such data in the 2006-07 season.

    Neymar has also been crucial in the Champions League for PSG, albeit several untimely injuries have, in previous seasons, coincided with the French champions falling out of the tournament in the knockout stages.

    Of the 65 matches Neymar has scored in across all competitions, PSG have only lost three times – against Guingamp in the Coupe de la Ligue in January 2019, Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in February 2020 and Lorient in Ligue 1 in January 2021.

  • Aguer-woe! Sergio apologises for fluffed Panenka in Man City's defeat to Chelsea Aguer-woe! Sergio apologises for fluffed Panenka in Man City's defeat to Chelsea

    Sergio Aguero has apologised to Manchester City's supporters after his dismal penalty in Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea. 

    Pep Guardiola's side would have wrapped up the Premier League title with victory over the Blues in a rehearsal of this month's Champions League final. 

    They would have been well on their way to sealing a third championship in four seasons had Aguero – who will leave City at the end of the season – added a swift second to Raheem Sterling's breakthrough strike on the stroke of half-time. 

    Yet City's record goalscorer got it all wrong.

    His tame Panenka attempt from 12 yards was comfortably gathered by Edouard Mendy, with Chelsea subsequently roaring back to seal all three points through Hakim Ziyech and Marcos Alonso. 

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    Including his spot-kick, Aguero had two attempts on Saturday, while also creating two chances, albeit one of those came with his seemingly inadvertent assist for Sterling's opener – the 32-year-old taking a heavy touch when presented with a gaping goal.

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  • Liverpool 2-0 Southampton: Mane and Thiago keep Reds in hunt for Champions League Liverpool 2-0 Southampton: Mane and Thiago keep Reds in hunt for Champions League

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    The Saints, meanwhile, failed to make themselves mathematically safe from relegation as they suffered defeat, though with 10 points separating them from 18th-placed Fulham, it is highly unlikely they will be dragged into the mix.

    Liverpool's last two outings - 1-1 draws against Leeds United and Newcastle United - were largely defined by a failure to take their opportunities, rather than any issues creating them.

    And Jurgen Klopp could have been forgiven for worrying that a familiar pattern was once again emerging as his team missed chance after chance in the opening 25 minutes.

    Mohamed Salah was guilty of twice finding Fraser Forster's gloves when he might have done better, while Diogo Jota and Mane each shot over from good positions.

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    Clearly enjoying his starring role, the goalkeeper even gave himself another huge stop to make as he passed the ball to the feet of Adams before getting down to block the subsequent shot.

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    What does it mean? Reds still in top-four running

    Chelsea may well be out of reach for Liverpool as they look to sneak into the Champions League places late in the season, but Klopp's squad have every reason to believe they can catch Leicester City.

    The fading Foxes are now just six points ahead of the Reds having played a game more and must take on Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham in their final three games.

    Alisson the hero

    It always felt like Liverpool's goalkeeper could be in for a busy game with such an inexperienced centre-back pairing ahead of him, Nathaniel Phillips partnering Rhys Williams in defence.

    But the Brazilian was more than up to the task, with almost all of his six saves across the 90 minutes coming in situations where the opposing player looked the clear favourite to win the duel.

    Wijnaldum toils

    A Liverpool team that has prided itself on midfield solidity in recent years lacked that for large periods of this game, and the typically reliable Wijnaldum cannot escape his share of the blame for that.

    The Dutchman made just 41 passes, zero tackles and zero interceptions in an anonymous showing that perhaps shows why Klopp might be willing to let him go this summer.

    What's next?

    Southampton are back in action as early as Tuesday when they host Crystal Palace, while Liverpool head to Old Trafford on Thursday in order to fulfil their postponed meeting with bitter rivals Manchester United.

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