Barcelona have ruled goalkeeper Neto out for up to eight weeks with a fractured left wrist.

The new signing underwent an operation on Tuesday after suffering the injury prior to the 4-0 weekend win over Napoli in Michigan.

Neto joined Barca from Valencia in June as Jasper Cillessen moved in the opposite direction.

His absence leaves the LaLiga champions without an experienced competitor for first-choice Marc-Andre ter Stegen ahead of Friday's season opener against Athletic Bilbao.

Inaki Pena, 20, is expected to be promoted from Barcelona B after travelling with Ernesto Valverde's squad to the United States.

The timescale placed on Neto's recovery could keep him out until after the international break in October.

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." 

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.

 

Jose Mourinho believes Joao Felix's huge price tag means he must produce the goods at Atletico Madrid despite his tender years.

The 19-year-old forward joined Diego Simeone's Atletico from Benfica in a €126million move last month and has turned in some dazzling pre-season displays.

As such, his famed Portuguese compatriot Mourinho believes there will be a demand for instant results.

"He has a challenge due to the extent of his talent and because of the investment the club have made on him," Mourinho told the Portuguese Football Federation's (FPF) television channel, Canal 11.

"I believe that he can't escape this responsibility. It doesn't matter if he's 18, 20 or 25.

"What matters is his talent and the responsibility he has."

That responsibility extends to spearheading a challenge for the top honours in Spain and Europe, according to Mourinho.

Despite losing Lucas Hernandez, Rodri, Diego Godin and Antoine Griezmann - the France star's long-anticipated move to Barcelona eventually coming to fruition – Atletico have reinforced impressively.

Kieran Trippier, Marcos Llorente and Hector Herrera are among those to have bolstered Simeone's squad and Mourinho feels they must now look to match Spain's heavyweight duo.

"Atletico Madrid's level of investment leaves them with responsibility to fight for the Champions League and LaLiga," he said.

"It's clear that Barcelona and Real Madrid have to be there because of their power, financial capability, culture and quality.

"Atletico in recent years have been without this responsibility, but the level of investment they've made is incredible.

"It's time to say, 'We're here, we're big, we want to be big and we are here to win'." 

Atletico begin their LaLiga campaign at home to Getafe on Sunday.

Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala has joined Valencia on a two-year deal.

The financial terms of the transfer have not been disclosed.

A brief statement issued by Valencia read: "Valencia CF has reached an agreement with Eliaquim Mangala, whereby the French defender will become a Valencian player until June 30, 2021."

Valencia begin their LaLiga campaign at home to Real Sociedad on Saturday.

Mangala joined City from Porto in August 2014 in a deal worth in the region of £42million, only for a succession of error-strewn displays to prevent him from becoming a regular first-team fixture under Manuel Pellegrini.

The 28-year-old returns to Mestalla, where he spent the 2016-17 campaign on loan before an unlikely and brief first-team return during Pep Guardiola's second season in charge at City.

His proposed move to Crystal Palace collapsed before injuries to John Stones and Vincent Kompany contributed to him making 15 appearances in all competitions during the first half of 2017-18.

A January loan move to Everton followed, which was ruined by a serious knee ligament injury in his second match.

Mangala did not feature for City as he underwent his recovery but signed a one-year contract extension until June 2020 in March this year.

Athletic Bilbao have tied star striker Inaki Williams to a new nine-year deal, keeping him at the club until 2028.

Williams was already contracted to the LaLiga side until 2025 but agreed an extension on Monday, a short statement confirmed.

The 25-year-old had been linked with Manchester United in the closing days of the Premier League transfer window as Romelu Lukaku departed Old Trafford for Inter.

But Williams stayed at San Mames and his release clause has now risen from €108million to €135m.

The one-cap Spain international enjoyed his best scoring season in LaLiga last term, netting 13 times in 38 matches.

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]."

Barcelona goalkeeper Neto is facing a spell on the sidelines after fracturing a bone in his left wrist.

The 30-year-old arrived at Camp Nou from Valencia during the close season in a deal worth up to €35million.

With Jasper Cillessen moving the opposite way, Neto was brought in to provide competition for Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

But Ernesto Valverde now faces being without his back-up keeper for the opening stages of the season as he picked up an injury in the final training session ahead of Saturday's friendly against Napoli.

Barcelona announced on their official website that Neto has been diagnosed with a scaphoid bone fracture and the extent of the injury will be determined on Monday.

Reports in Spain suggest the Brazilian, who featured in Barcelona's first four pre-season matches, is likely to miss five weeks of action.

The Spanish champions begin their LaLiga campaign with a trip to Athletic Bilbao next Friday and face Real Betis and Osasuna before the end of the month.

Lionel Messi is also doubtful for the start of the season because of a calf strain.

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.

Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti said an intense month of pre-season training and friendlies had left his players "tired" in their 4-0 defeat to Barcelona, but he insisted his squad is ready for the new Serie A season.

Second-half goals from Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele, along with a brace from Luis Suarez after the break, earned Barcelona a convincing win in Michigan, though Ancelotti claimed the opening two strikes should not have stood.

Suarez buried the rebound after a Griezmann shot was saved in the 48th minute, and the Frenchman scored himself eight minutes later after a pass from Jordi Alba, who appeared to be in an offside position.

Ancelotti defended his side's performance, telling reporters: "We played well in the first half but then we were affected by those two offside goals at the start of the second half.

"We were up against a magnificent team and afterwards they took control, but those two goals shouldn't have been given and they changed the match.

"I think we were also a little tired due to the heavy training loads after a month of intense work. I don't see any problems other than that."

Napoli travel to Fiorentina for their Serie A season opener on August 24 having won three, lost three, and drawn one of their pre-season friendlies.

Despite their mixed form and relatively modest activity in the transfer market, with three of their six major signings being goalkeepers, Ancelotti remains optimistic about Napoli's chances of improving on their second-placed finish in 2018-19.

"My general impression is good after these two matches with Barcelona," he said, reflecting on Saturday's defeat and the 2-1 reverse in their previous outing against the Blaugrana.

"We'll build on this as we continue to work towards the start of the season.

"I'm happy with the work we've done both on our training camp and in these international friendlies we've played. We have a top-quality squad and I'm sure we can have an excellent season.

"I've seen a lot of things I like from the lads and the overall feeling is positive. We'll be ready when the season begins on 24 August."

Barcelona are trying to find a way to bring Neymar back to Camp Nou – without paying a cent.

With Real Madrid reportedly emerging as frontrunners to sign the star forward, Paris Saint-Germain confirmed on Saturday they were in "advanced" talks regarding a deal for the Brazilian.

It remains to be seen as to which of the LaLiga giants Neymar ends up at, but Barcelona are struggling to find a deal, looking to complete one in which they pay with players only.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA DON'T WANT TO PAY EVEN €1 FOR NEYMAR

Barcelona are looking to secure a deal for Neymar that would see them give up only players, according to Marca and Le Parisien.

The French daily reports that kind of deal is "unimaginable" for PSG, who are looking for at least €200million for Neymar – which would see them make a €22m loss.

Meanwhile, AS say PSG and Real Madrid have opened talks regarding a move for Neymar, including the option of a one-year loan deal.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Mauro Icardi no longer wanted at Inter, a possible switch to Napoli has been mooted. Corriere dello Sport say Icardi is willing to make the move to Napoli, who are looking to sign a forward. Icardi has also been linked to Juventus.

- That comes as Napoli seemingly stop their pursuit of Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez. The Serie A club have given up on signing James and will instead focus on PSV forward Hirving Lozano, according to AS.

- David de Gea looked certain to extend his contract at Manchester United just last month. However, the Mirror reports the Premier League club are yet to reach an agreement with the goalkeeper, casting fresh doubt over the Spain international's future at Old Trafford.

- With previous target Leroy Sane suffering a serious knee injury, Bayern Munich are turning their attentions elsewhere as they still look to sign replacements for departed stars Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. The Bundesliga champions have reached an agreement with Inter to sign Ivan Perisic, according to Corriere dello Sport.

- Radamel Falcao is nearing a Monaco exit. The forward is set to sign a three-year deal worth €6m per season with Galatasaray, according to AS. However, the Ligue 1 club want to sign a replacement before letting Falcao leave, and are expecting to land Wissam Ben Yedder from Sevilla.

- Dani Olmo is expected to make a move from Dinamo Zagreb to one of Europe's biggest clubs during this transfer window. Sportske Novosti report Bayern Munich and Everton offered €28m for the Spain youth international and Manchester United put in a bid of €25m to land Olmo. However, Dinamo Zagreb are hoping Olmo can help them reach the Champions League group stage before selling the 21-year-old.

Diego Simeone praised Joao Felix after the teenager's impressive start at Atletico Madrid continued against Juventus on Saturday.

Joao Felix scored one and set up the other as Atletico completed a perfect pre-season with a 2-1 International Champions Cup victory over Juve in Stockholm.

The 19-year-old arrived at the LaLiga giants from Benfica for a reported €126million in July and has scored three goals and provided four assists in five pre-season games.

Simeone has been impressed with what he has seen from Joao Felix, who netted 20 times in 42 games in all competitions for Benfica last season.

"Joao has many capabilities. He is adapting very quickly to what the team needs," the Atletico coach told a news conference.

"He has a vision that allows him to adapt to many positions and is in a process of adaptation and the best thing he has is that, I said from the first day, his desire to learn.

"He wants to learn and with that the adaptation process will be shorter. Talent is innate, but the desire to learn is the shortest path that a player has to perform."

Atletico have gone through a rebuild in the close season, the likes of Joao Felix, Marcos Llorente and Kieran Trippier joining, while Antoine Griezmann, Rodri, Lucas Hernandez, Diego Godin, Juanfran and Filipe Luis are among those to have left.

Argentina forward Angel Correa is also linked with a move to AC Milan, but Simeone expects the 24-year-old to stay at Atletico.

"We are open to everything that can happen, transfer wise. There is nothing that can surprise us because obviously there is always something happening until the end so we have to be prepared for that," he said.

"Angel Correa is training in an extraordinary way since he arrived back and there's not any situation that leads me to think about him leaving the team."

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