Neymar leaving Paris Saint-Germain would not be good for Ligue 1, Marseille head coach Andre Villas-Boas believes.

PSG star Neymar has been linked to former club Barcelona and Real Madrid before the LaLiga transfer window shuts on September 2.

Neymar reportedly wants to return to Barca after his world-record €222million exit in 2017, while Madrid are also an option.

Asked about Brazil international forward Neymar, Villas-Boas said: "This type of player has an important image in football, a bit like when Ronaldinho was here in Paris.

"There's this attractiveness, the football world wants to watch these kinds of players. I don't know what's going to happen, I can't comment on the separation because I'm not the PSG coach.

"He is an important player in the world of football. For me, it was the player who could succeed [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi for the Ballon d'Or. But he did not recover all the qualities he had shown in Barcelona.

"For Ligue 1, it's not good if he leaves. But we have other good players and clubs like OM, with an international reputation, who will always make Ligue 1 attractive."

Neymar has scored 34 goals in 37 Ligue 1 appearances despite both his seasons at PSG being interrupted by serious foot injuries.

In total, Neymar has managed 51 goals in 58 games for PSG – who opened their title defence with a 3-0 win over Nimes in the absence of the 27-year-old.

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." 

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.

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]."

Neymar will head into the new Ligue 1 campaign without any match preparation after being left out of the squad for Paris Saint-Germain's final pre-season friendly.

The wantaway forward is again to remain at the club's training base in Shenzhen when his team-mates take on A-League outfit Sydney FC in Suzhou on Tuesday.

Brazil international Neymar, who has been heavily linked with former employers Barcelona, has not featured for PSG since failing to report on time for pre-season training earlier this month.

He sat out games against Nurnberg in Germany and Inter in Macau in order to continue his recovery from foot and ankle injuries, despite declaring himself to be almost "100 per cent" midway through July.

The 27-year-old's rehabilitation programme has progressed to include ball work but he, Presnel Kimpembe and midfielder Marco Verratti, who is nursing a thigh strain, are being kept in cotton wool.

PSG face Rennes in the Trophee des Champions - a match Neymar would have missed anyway due to suspension - four days after their date with Sydney, before flying back to France for the start of the Ligue 1 season.

Thomas Tuchel's men begin their title defence against Nimes on August 11.

Andres Iniesta is adamant his former Barcelona team-mate Ivan Rakitic wants to stay at Camp Nou despite links with Paris Saint-Germain, Inter and Manchester United.

Croatia international Rakitic has spent five seasons at Barca following a move from Sevilla in 2014 and has been a key part of the side ever since, making at least 32 LaLiga appearances in each campaign.

Although his coaches have valued Rakitic's input, some supporters have questioned whether the 31-year-old merits inclusion in the Barca team.

But in spite of United, Inter and PSG apparently holding an interest in Rakitic, Iniesta is convinced his former colleague has no plans to leave.

"I don't know if he is untransferable, but I know he is happy and wants to stay at Barca," Iniesta told reporters in Japan before his Vissel Kobe side face the Blaugrana on Saturday.

"I hope he can [stay at the club] and continue to perform as before. I would be happy for him."

One player linked with a move to Barca is Neymar, another former team-mate of Iniesta's at Camp Nou.

The PSG star is at odds with his employers, who have confirmed he can leave for the right price, and Iniesta is eager to see the Brazilian back with the Spanish champions.

"I have said it many times, for me, as a player he is one of the best there is," Iniesta said. "If his signing is going well or badly, that is something the club must conclude.

"They are considerations of the sports management. But as a player, he is one of the best."

Neymar has been left out of the Paris Saint-Germain squad for Saturday's pre-season friendly against Inter.

The Brazil superstar recently declared he is almost 100 per cent fit after recovering from foot and ankle injuries.

But PSG confirmed on Thursday that Neymar will not travel to Macau with the rest of the squad to take on the Nerazzurri.

"Presnel Kimpembe and Neymar [will] stay at base camp in Shenzhen to continue their individual physical work twice a day with staff members to extend their preparation," the club said in a statement.

Neymar has been linked with a return to Barcelona, with PSG sporting director Leonardo confirming the 27-year-old wants to leave.

The forward reported late for pre-season training earlier this month and PSG said he could face punishment as a result.

Neymar did not feature in either of PSG's two recent friendlies in Germany having missed Brazil's triumph at the Copa America due to injury.

But PSG's new signings Ander Herrera, Abdou Diallo and Pablo Sarabia could all play against Inter after being included in Thomas Tuchel's squad.

After taking on the Serie A side, PSG play Sydney FC ahead of August 3's Trophee des Champions clash against Rennes in Shenzhen.

Neymar has been included in Paris Saint-Germain's squad to tour China despite serious doubts about his future at the club.

The Brazilian will travel to Asia for a trio of matches as he nears complete rehabilitation from foot and ankle injuries.

Barcelona are believed to have been investigating a deal to take the 27-year-old back to Camp Nou, a proposed transfer which Neymar is reportedly keen to execute.

PSG head coach Thomas Tuchel last week admitted to having known about the forward's desire to leave Paris even before the Copa America.

Neymar missed that tournament because of injury but has sufficiently recovered from ankle ligament damage and the metatarsal he fractured in January to join a 33-man travelling party.

PSG's statement read: "Regarding the healing of his right ankle sprain, daily physical work will continue and complete recovery and integration with the group is scheduled for training in China.

"The radiological checks of the fracture of the fifth metatarsal (January 2019) made upon the player's return to Paris showed completely normal progress and a very good improvement."

Neymar did not feature in either of the club's two recent friendlies in Germany.

Speculation surrounding his rumoured switch to Barca partially cooled when the LaLiga champions signed Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid for €120million.

Real Madrid, who are attempting to find a new home for Gareth Bale, have also been mentioned as a possible destination.

PSG's visit to China involves friendlies against Serie A side Inter and A-League outfit Sydney FC.

They will remain in the country to face Ligue 1 rivals Rennes in the Trophee des Champions on August 3.

Copa America winners Marquinhos and Thiago Silva, Argentina pair Leandro Paredes and Angel Di Maria, and Africa Cup of Nations participant Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting have all given permission to join their team-mates next week.

Paris Saint-Germain have not received a "concrete offer" for Neymar, the club's sporting director Leonardo said.

The Brazilian forward has been heavily linked with a move away from the Ligue 1 champions during the close season, with his former club Barcelona looking the most likely destination.

Neymar has yet to feature for PSG so far during pre-season and was again absent as Thomas Tuchel's side laboured to a 1-1 draw with Nurnberg on Saturday.

Leonardo has previously said the 27-year-old can leave for the right price, but he told reporters after the game in Germany that no offers have been tabled for him.

"Honestly, there is nothing different from the last time we talked," he said, according to Le Parisien. "Nothing at all.

"It has not moved. There is no concrete offer for Neymar, he is with us. He is a player for Paris Saint-Germain.

"I repeat, there is no concrete offer. It's been the same situation for 10 days."

Tuchel refused to be drawn on where Neymar's future lies, two years after becoming a world-record buy, insisting he remains part of the French club's squad.

"The situation between Neymar and me is clear; it's now something between him and the club," the PSG boss said.

"He is part of the dressing room and will train with us tomorrow."

A below-par Paris Saint-Germain were held to a 1-1 friendly draw by Nurnberg at the Max-Morlock-Stadion on Saturday.

There was no place in the squad for Neymar, who continues to be linked with a move away from the Ligue 1 champions, with the club stating he was "training".

Thomas Tuchel's side failed to hit the heights of their 6-1 win against Dynamo Dresden on Tuesday and looked particularly frail at the back, although Kylian Mbappe did look typically threatening in attack.

Pablo Sarabia scored his first goal for the club following his move from Sevilla earlier this month to put them ahead but Enrico Valentini equalised from the spot 19 minutes from time.

Nurnberg were denied an opener inside the first minute after Alphonse Areola raced off his line to block Mikael Ishak's effort.

The visitors grew into the game and twice came close shortly before the midway point of the first half. First, Mbappe's low shot was diverted onto the post by goalkeeper Christian Mathenia and then Jese dragged wide after a pull-back from the marauding Thomas Meunier.

Mbappe went close again 10 minutes before the interval, latching onto Marco Verratti's chipped free-kick and clipping the outside of Mathenia's right-hand upright.

The France international was the creator for Sarabia's opener two minutes before half-time, playing the ball through Lukas Muhl's legs and picking out the Spaniard, who sent a header past Mathenia.

The hosts should have drawn level a minute after the restart but half-time substitute Federico Palacios fired well over after powering through a sloppy PSG backline.

Following a raft of substitutions for both sides, Nurnberg equalised in the 71st minute when Valentini stroked home from the spot after new signing Abdou Diallo had handled in the area.

Neymar has not been named in Paris Saint-Germain's squad to face Nurnberg in a friendly in Germany on Saturday.

In a statement published to the club's website, PSG listed "training" as the reason for the star's absence from the 23-man group.

Brazil forward Neymar commenced pre-season work with the Ligue 1 champions earlier this week amid intense transfer speculation.

The 27-year-old was not involved in PSG's midweek win over Dynamo Dresden and has not featured at any level since sustaining ankle-ligament damage while on international duty against Qatar last month.

He recently claimed to be back at "almost 100 per cent" after being forced to miss the Copa America.

Neymar's future remains unclear as he continues to push for a return to Barcelona, plans PSG boss Thomas Tuchel admitted to knowing before the Copa America.

The Ligue 1 champions are scheduled to fly to China on Tuesday for friendlies against Serie A side Inter and A-League outfit Sydney FC.

They will remain in the country to face fellow French club Rennes in the Trophee des Champions, their first competitive commitment of the new season.

Neymar has returned to training with Paris Saint-Germain, but a television interview with the forward may not now be aired in his native Brazil after the recording was stolen.

The world's most expensive footballer did not report to training last week as expected, leading PSG to release a strongly worded statement criticising him.

Neymar's official website published photographs on social media of him back at work, yet the 27-year-old continues to be engrossed in controversy.

He had recorded an interview with Brazilian television network Band in which he was expected to talk about his future at PSG, with a return to Barcelona rumoured.

However, on Monday, Band said the car where the recording of the interview was being stored had been stolen.

A statement from Sao Paulo civil police office confirmed a vehicle belonging to the journalist who interviewed Neymar had gone missing.

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar acknowledged he is not a "perfect role model" nor a "superhero".

The Brazil international has spent almost two years with Paris Saint-Germain, but rumours of unhappiness, rocky relationships with team-mates and a lack of commitment have rarely been far away.

More recently, Neymar failed to report back for pre-season training earlier this month amid speculation he wants to return to Barcelona, while PSG sporting director Leonardo confirmed the forward was available for a transfer if the price is right.

Neymar further risked the wrath of PSG supporters on Saturday when highlighting Barca's remarkable 2016-17 Champions League turnaround against his current employers as one of his two favourite football memories, though he showed a more vulnerable side at the Red Bull Neymar Jr's Five football tournament in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

The former Barca man said: "I'm no superhero nor perfect a perfect role model. I also have my bad moments, when I want to go home and hide, to stay with my friends and family.

"I'm no superhero that handles all the pressure in the world, but I make an effort because I know what I've become, not only to my family and son, but for most of the children that are here.

"I know I have a huge responsibility and I want to act in the best way possible. Always being honest, that is the most important thing."

Neymar missed Brazil's successful Copa America campaign due to an ankle injury and he was especially gutted to be absent as that tournament had been his big goal for the year.

"Being out of Copa America was so bad, I didn't like it," he added. "I don't even like to stay out of training, so you can imagine [what it was like missing] Copa America.

"That was so important to me and was my focus this year, but I cheered a lot for my colleagues and friends.

"I was really happy to see them win, even more than if I was playing. Their happiness is mine also."

Neymar needs to put wellness before wallet when it comes to choosing between Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, according to former Brazil boss Dunga.

PSG signed Neymar in a world-record €222million deal two years ago but reports suggest the free-scoring forward now wants to rejoin Barca, despite the likelihood of having to take a pay cut.

Part of the 27-year-old's motivation appears to be his desire to reunite with close friends Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, alongside whom he forged a fearsome forward line.

Dunga knows Neymar better than most in football, having handed him the Brazil captaincy in 2014, and thinks a comfortable environment should be his first priority.

"It's important that he chooses where he's going to be happy, where he will enjoy playing," Dunga said.

"People don't understand that the Brazilian player is different from the European one.

"We like to play, to have fun, otherwise we get tense, sad... I hope that next season he can give us a lot of joy and demonstrate his full potential. It's up to him.

"He has many qualities, technical quality. He does everything a player needs to do and has matured a lot. He wins fouls now and he likes more to score, and not only to dribble.

"I think he's in a good moment."

Dunga was speaking at an event commemorating the 25th anniversary of Brazil's triumph at the 1994 World Cup.

One feted member of that side, former Deportivo La Coruna striker Bebeto, has an intimate understanding of the pressure associated with providing goals for club and country.

The scorer of six World Cup goals counselled his compatriot on the even greater importance of living up to his stature back in Brazil.

"I hope with all my heart that Neymar can put his head in place," Bebeto said.

"Neymar doesn't know the size of his name. He has to be an example. We have to talk about Neymar making goals, helping the Brazilian team.

"I'm very supportive of him, because he's a great player and any team in the world has a place for him."

Neymar did little to ease tensions with Paris Saint-Germain as he declared Barcelona's classic 2016-17 Champions League comeback against the Parisians as one of his fondest memories in football.

The Brazilian star appears to be at loggerheads with his employers at PSG, as it is claimed he is trying to engineer a return to Barca.

Furthermore, PSG sporting director Leonardo confirmed Neymar can leave if potential suitors meet their asking price.

Neymar joined PSG from Barca for a world-record fee of €222million in August 2017, but just five months earlier he played a major role in dumping the French side out of the Champions League in the last 16.

PSG won the first leg 4-0, but Barca stunned them at the Camp Nou as they ran out 6-1 winners, scoring three times – including a Neymar brace – after the 88th minute to pull off one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history.

And, speaking at the Red Bull Neymar Jr's Five event, Neymar again risked the wrath of PSG fans by calling that one of his two best moments in football.

Speaking to Oh My Goal, Neymar said: "My best memory as a footballer? There are two moments. Firstly, when we won the Olympics with Brazil.

"Secondly, the 'remontada' against Paris. What we felt when we scored the sixth goal… I never felt something like this. It was incredible.

"When we won against PSG with Barca, it was completely… we all went crazy afterwards. I believe it was the best possible feeling for all of us."

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