Barcelona are still hopeful of bringing Neymar to Camp Nou, but Real Madrid's interest is rising as they give up on Paul Pogba.

Neymar, 27, is set to leave Paris Saint-Germain this close season, two years after joining the Ligue 1 champions from Barcelona for a world-record €222million.

While a return to Barca has been mooted, Madrid are also seemingly interested after accepting they are unlikely to land Pogba from Manchester United.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA HOPEFUL OVER NEYMAR, CONVINCED MADRID ARE INTERESTED

Barcelona are still eyeing a move for Neymar, but the LaLiga champions are convinced rivals Real Madrid are also chasing the Brazilian, according to AS.

The report says Barca believe the forward will definitely leave PSG, who do not want to loan or sell Neymar to them because of a fractured relationship between the clubs.

AS report that Barcelona feel PSG are still hoping Madrid will make a late bid for Neymar.

According to Globo Esporte, Real Madrid are ready to use Gareth Bale and Keylor Navas as part of the deal.

Barcelona want Neymar to publicly state his desire to return to the club and they will offer Philippe Coutinho to PSG as part of a deal, according to Sport.

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Real Madrid's intensified interest in Neymar comes as they accept their chances of signing Pogba from Manchester United are "practically zero", according to AS, after the Premier League club failed to sign a potential replacement for the France international before their window shut.

Coutinho may not have returned to the Premier League, but Barcelona still want to see the playmaker depart. Sport say PSGJuventus and Bayern Munich are the most likely destinations for the former Liverpool star.

Luka Modric was reportedly set to be offered to PSG by Real Madrid as part of a deal for Neymar. However, the Croatia international's camp has told AS the midfielder is not leaving the Santiago Bernabeu.

- Despite giving up on Pogba, Real Madrid still need to strengthen in midfield. Ajax star Donny van de Beek remains the most likely option for Zinedine Zidane, according to AS, but they are waiting amid a potential move for Neymar.

- Manchester United opted against signing a replacement for Romelu Lukaku, who left for Inter. The Times report the Premier League club ended talks with Juventus over striker Mario Mandzukic due to the £14m (€15.2m) valuation being deemed too high. Borussia Dortmund are interested in the Croatian, according to Corriere dello Sport.

- Mario Balotelli is a step away from joining Flamengo. According to Gianluca Di Marzio, the Italian striker has reached a salary agreement with the Brazilian club, but work is still being done relating to image rights.

Manchester City have completed the deadline day signings of the highly rated Pedro Porro and former England goalkeeper Scott Carson.

Porro, 19, is reported to have cost City £11million (€12m) from Girona and is expected to be sent back on loan to a club in LaLiga.

The versatile right-sided player broke into Girona's team last season, playing 32 times in LaLiga as the Catalan club were relegated to the second tier.

But Porro was a standout performer despite Girona's woes, showing great potential in several roles, occupying the full-back, wing-back and wide midfield positions on the right flank over the course of the campaign.

Borussia Dortmund and Schalke were among the clubs linked with him, but City have pipped the competition to secure Porro's signature.

Carson, 33, has also joined City on a season-long loan from Championship side Derby County, providing back-up to Ederson and Claudio Bravo after youngster Aro Muric joined Nottingham Forest on a temporary deal.

"It's an honour to have signed for City on loan," Carson told the club's website. "It's something I didn't expect but an opportunity I simply could not turn down. To be part of this squad – the champions of England – is a dream come true.

"I can't wait to see Pep's work on the training field up close. What he has achieved in his management career has been amazing, and it's every player's dream to play under him."

Tottenham have reached an agreement for the loan signing of Giovani Lo Celso, with the club retaining an option to make his move from Real Betis permanent.

Lo Celso becomes Spurs' third acquisition of the window, following the signings of Tanguy Ndombele – who completed a £55million move in July – and Jack Clarke, who was immediately loaned back to Leeds United.

Fulham's versatile left-sided teenager Ryan Sessegnon is also thought to have completed his move to White Hart Lane for a reported £30m fee, although that transfer had yet to be officially confirmed.

"We are delighted to announce that we have reached agreement for the season-long loan signing of Giovani Lo Celso from Real Betis with an option to make the transfer permanent," Spurs said in a statement.

"The attacking midfielder will wear the number 18 shirt this season."

Lo Celso, 23, made the jump to European football in 2016 when he joined Paris Saint-Germain from Rosario Central in his native Argentina, making his debut in French football in April 2017.

He went on to feature 33 times in his first full Ligue 1 campaign and showed flashes of quality, but PSG sent him on loan to Betis last term and allowed them a purchase option in the deal.

Lo Celso enjoyed a stellar season in LaLiga, scoring nine goals and supplying four assists in 32 outings.

Betis unsurprisingly triggered their reported €22m option in April and signed Lo Celso to a four-year contract.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and five Liverpool players have been shortlisted for 2018-19 Champions League positional awards. 

Liverpool defeated Tottenham in the Champions League final and have seen goalkeeper Alisson, defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk, midfielder Jordan Henderson and forward Sadio Mane named among the contenders in their respective categories.

Tottenham also have representation through keeper Hugo Lloris and midfielder Christian Eriksen.

Barcelona superstar Messi, who was the top scorer in last season's competition with 12 goals, will vie with Mane and old adversary Ronaldo for the forward award.

Midfielder Frenkie de Jong and defender Matthijs de Ligt – who are now at Barcelona and Juventus respectively – were also nominated after playing pivotal roles in Ajax's run to the semi-finals.

The awards will be presented during the 2019-20 Champions League group stage draw in Monaco on Thursday 29 August.

The shortlisting jury comprised the coaches of the 32 clubs from last season's group stage and journalists from each of UEFA's 55 member associations.

 

Full list of nominees for 2018-19 Champions League position awards:
  
Goalkeepers: Alisson (Liverpool), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur); Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona).
 
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax, now Juventus), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool).
 
Midfielders: Frenkie de Jong (Ajax, now Barcelona), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool).
 
Forwards: Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus).

Zvonimir Boban has repeated Paolo Maldini's statement that AC Milan will not be able to sign Luka Modric from Real Madrid.

Modric, the 2018 Ballon d'Or winner, has been linked with Inter and Milan in recent months, although he appears set to stay in LaLiga.

Rossoneri technical director Maldini last month said the Croatia midfielder would be "perfect" at San Siro but the deal would not happen.

Following further speculation, Milan's chief football officer Boban reiterated the point.

"Twenty days ago, Paolo Maldini declared that Luka Modric will not be a Milan player," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"But since we continue to talk about it and write about it without any basis, I would like to repeat that the best player in the world of last year will not be our player.

"As far as I can see, he will still be in Madrid. Obviously, it would be great to have him, but this is the only truth."

Images have previously circulated of a young Modric in Milan colours, and Boban added: "Luka is a person and a player of the highest level.

"We thank him for his good wishes for next season and we are pleased that he has liked our club since he was a child, but it is right to clarify things – out of respect for our fans, too."

The transfer window slams shut in England on Thursday and Romelu Lukaku is finally set to get his move.

Linked to Inter and Juventus throughout the off-season, Manchester United striker Lukaku is poised to swap Old Trafford for San Siro in Milan.

Lukaku's exit could trigger United to make a late dash for his replacement.

 

TOP STORY – LUKAKU TO SWAP UNITED FOR INTER

After months of speculation, Lukaku will swap Manchester United for Serie A side Inter according to widespread reports.

Lukaku landed in Milan in the early hours of Thursday morning ahead of his €75million (£70m) move to Inter.

Inter will reportedly pay a €65m fixed fee and €10m in add-ons, with the deal also including a five per cent cut of any future sale.

 

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- With Lukaku leaving Old Trafford, United are willing to pay the £81m (€88m) release clause to lure Inaki Williams from Athletic Bilbao, reports El Chiringuito TV. The Red Devils are also continuing to be linked to Juventus' Mario Mandzukic and former Tottenham striker Fernando Llorente, who is a free agent.

Tottenham are set to complete deadline-day deals for Real Betis midfielder Giovani Lo Celso and Fulham's Ryan Sessegnon, reports the Telegraph. Spurs are hopeful of clinching a transfer for Lo Celso at £55m (€59.7m), while Sessegnon could cost £20m.

- According to Sport, Real Madrid have offered €120m plus Luka Modric for wantaway Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar. Barcelona have been linked with their former forward but the LaLiga champions must raise funds before trying to re-sign the Brazil international. Barca could free up space by selling Philippe Coutinho, who has reportedly attracted interest from Premier League trio United, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Arsenal are set for a busy deadline day. The Sun reports the Gunners could land Chelsea defender David Luiz in a £12m deal, while Unai Emery's side have agreed a Scottish transfer record fee of £25m for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney, according to the BBC.

- Tottenham have agreed to sign Juventus star Paulo Dybala but the player's image rights are holding up the deal, says the Independent. Dybala has also been linked to Paris Saint-Germain after turning down a move to Manchester United.

- Sportitalia says Wolves have agreed a £23m (€25m) fee to sign AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, who reportedly wants a wage increase. Wolves have already signed Patrick Cutrone from Milan.

- According to Sky Sports, Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha has handed in a transfer request as Everton look to sign the former Manchester United forward.

Mario Balotelli is on the verge of joining Brazilian side Flamengo until December 2021. That is according to La Gazzetta dello Sport and Sky Sport Italia. Balotelli is a free agent following his Marseille exit.

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde played down reports linking Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar with a move to Real Madrid.

Neymar has been widely linked with a return to Camp Nou, but reports on Wednesday said Madrid were lining up a move for the Brazil star.

But Valverde dismissed the talk as speculation while saying he was unsure what would happen with Neymar.

"Now it's Madrid and we'll see what happens tomorrow," he told a news conference after Barca's 2-1 friendly win over Napoli.

"Two years ago he was right here and I had to answer questions from many journalists. Now, they ask me again about him.

"It seems that Neymar is following me. We have nothing to say about players who are on other teams."

Neymar seems set to leave PSG after just two seasons, during which he has scored 51 goals in 58 games since his €222million arrival in 2017.

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde believes Philippe Coutinho will remain with the LaLiga champions, but admitted he was unsure.

Coutinho, 27, has been linked with a return to the Premier League, a year and a half after joining Barca from Liverpool for a reported €114million (£105m).

The Brazil international is reportedly a target for Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal, with the transfer window in England shutting on Thursday.

Valverde is far from certain about Coutinho's future, but he thinks the attacker will stay at Camp Nou.

"We do not know what will happen, but Philippe is a player who is with us," he told a news conference after Wednesday's 2-1 friendly win over Napoli.

"He has not played but the plan we have with him is the same. We'll see if he plays a few minutes on Saturday.

"But he is a player who is with us and we have him, of course. He is with us and we think he will continue with us.

"In all these transfer windows there is talk of many things."

Goals from Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic helped Barcelona to their win over Napoli in Florida.

Antoine Griezmann featured for a half for Barca, but the former Atletico Madrid star is yet to score in four pre-season outings for his new club.

"He has made a great first half, but maybe we have missed playing with some more rhythm," Valverde said about the France forward.

"I had thought he would play at home like Luis [Suarez] and on Saturday he will play again."

Ivan Rakitic scored the winner as LaLiga champions Barcelona overcame Napoli 2-1 in the first of two friendlies in the United States.

After Arkadiusz Milik's embarrassing miss for Napoli, Barca midfielder Rakitic found the back of the net with an unstoppable 79th-minute half-volley in Miami Gardens on Wednesday.

Barca – who will face Napoli again in Michigan on Saturday – saw Sergio Busquets' opener cancelled out by Samuel Umtiti's own goal three minutes prior to half-time.

Barcelona played without Lionel Messi due to a calf strain, but Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez, Rakitic, Umtiti and Busquets were in the XI, while Junior Firpo – who arrived from Real Betis this week – made his debut.

Napoli's starting side was headlined by skipper Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon, with recruits Kostas Manolas and Eljif Elmas also in the line-up.

Insigne, Mertens and Callejon wreaked havoc in the first half – Ernesto Valverde's Barca fortunate not to concede first against Napoli.

Playing their trademark passing football, Napoli unlocked Barca's struggling defence but Insigne and Mertens were denied by goalkeeper Neto in quick succession.

Napoli had a golden opportunity to take the lead but an unmarked Mertens side-footed wide of the post in the six-yard box after Callejon slid in a low cross just past the half-hour mark.

For all their good football, Napoli fell behind in the 38th minute when Busquets was afforded too much space on the edge of the area as he found the inside of the far post.

Barca's lead was short-lived, however, after Callejon cut through on goal and saw his shot helped over the line by defender Umtiti four minutes later.

After Barca struggled defensively in the opening half, it was Napoli's turn in the second 45 minutes, with Alex Meret keeping his side on level terms, having twice thwarted substitute Abel Ruiz within seven minutes of the restart.

Mistakes crept into Napoli's game and substitute Ousmane Dembele almost restored Barca's lead, but his stunning effort from outside of the area rattled the post with 22 minutes remaining.

At the other end, Neto got down low to turn Milik's goal-bound effort away for a corner moments later while the Napoli forward embarrassingly chested a ball over the crossbar with an open goal at his mercy.

Milik paid the price for his inexcusable miss as Rakitic fired a thunderous low shot past Meret 11 minutes from the end.

Real Madrid midfielder Marco Asensio underwent successful surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament and lateral meniscus in his left knee.

Asensio ruptured his ACL and external meniscus in a blow to Madrid's season in the International Champions Cup clash with Arsenal last month.

The 23-year-old suffered the injury after coming on as a second-half substitute in Madrid's penalty shoot-out victory at FedExField in Maryland.

"The operation was carried out by doctor Manuel Leyes, under the supervision of the Real Madrid medical services," a Madrid statement read. "Asensio will remain in hospital until he is well enough to be discharged. From that point on, his recovery program will begin."

While Asensio had surgery on Wednesday, Madrid continued their LaLiga preparations with a 1-0 win over Salzburg.

Eden Hazard scored the only goal of the match as he opened his account for Madrid after arriving from Premier League side Chelsea.

Madrid – who finished third in LaLiga last season – will face Roma on Sunday before opening their 2019-20 campaign away to Celta Vigo on August 17.

Reflecting on the match, Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane said: "I'm really pleased. We put in a good performance, that's why we came here. We're going to do great things this season and now it's important to carry on with our pre-season preparation because there's still another game before LaLiga kicks off. We're gradually getting ready and we're better every day. That was confirmed by today's match.

"I value the team's efforts because it's not easy and it was important to put on a display like this against a tough side. There are no small teams. If you're not focused, any team can make life difficult. 

"We were disciplined and showed intensity. We struggled a bit more in the second half but we're happy to have won the game."

"I'm pleased because ultimately all a coach wants is to have all his players available," Zidane added. "There's still one more game before LaLiga and we want to be in great shape in order to compete. If we compete well, we'll achieve great things."

Real Madrid star Eden Hazard was "very pleased" to open his account for the LaLiga giants in their 1-0 friendly win against Salzburg.

Hazard was the difference in the pre-season fixture at Salzburg, where he scored his first Madrid goal in sublime fashion on Wednesday.

After arriving from Chelsea for a fee which could reportedly rise to €140million, Hazard curled a stunning effort past goalkeeper Cican Stankovic.

"When you're out on the pitch, you want to win the game and being a forward, you want to score goals," said Hazard, who has shown flashes of his brilliance against Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Tottenham and Fenerbahce.

"I'd been waiting for this moment for the last five games and it's happened today. I'm very pleased.
 
"It's still pre-season, but I think we've got more energy now. We've still got another 10 days before our first competitive game so we have to focus and keep working hard. 

"Our aim is to be ready for next week, we can't wait to start LaLiga so we're training and practising hard."

Hazard's arrival has headlined a busy off-season for Madrid, who have attempted to overhaul their side with the signings of Luka Jovic, Eder Militao, Rodrygo Goes, Ferland Mendy.

Brazilian defender Eder, who arrived from Porto, made his debut for Madrid against Salzburg. The 21-year-old featured in a back three alongside captain Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane before making way at half-time.

"It's a special feeling to play my first match for the best club in the world," he said. "I'm very happy, but I still have lots to learn. Playing for Real Madrid has been a dream for me ever since I was very young. Thanks to God, I have the chance to be here and I was to enjoy this opportunity.

"I hope I can have a wonderful career in this shirt. It's an incredible feeling to be alongside the best defenders and fullbacks in world football. 

"I hope I can help the team because these are fantastic players. I did what the coach asked of me and I hope things carry on in this vein."

Madrid will face Roma in a friendly fixture on Sunday before opening their LaLiga campaign away to Celta Vigo on August 17.

Eden Hazard scored his first goal for Real Madrid in sublime fashion as Zinedine Zidane's team earned a welcome 1-0 pre-season victory at Salzburg.

Hazard, who arrived in the close season from Chelsea for a fee which could reportedly reach £130million, lit up proceedings in the 19th minute with a brilliant curling effort as Los Blancos continued their preparations ahead of their LaLiga opener away to Celta Vigo on August 17.

The Belgium international's strike made it back-to-back successes for Madrid after victory over Fenerbahce in their previous outing, but they were far from their fluent best at the Red Bull Arena.

There was again no place in Zinedine Zidane's squad for Gareth Bale, who recently saw a move to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning collapse, while midfielder James Rodriguez was another notable omission.

Madrid's marquee addition Hazard gave a glimpse of his star quality when he latched onto Karim Benzema's throughball before cutting onto his right foot and whipping a superb curling shot inside the post.

It was a rare moment of class in an otherwise largely uneventful game, which still left question marks over the form of the Spanish giants, who have lost to Bayern Munich, rivals Atletico Madrid and Tottenham ahead of the new campaign.

Takumi Minamino missed a golden chance for Salzburg at when Andreas Ulmer's deep cross found him unmarked at the back post, while Patson Daka spurned a glorious opportunity to pull the hosts level after the break when he was sent clean through and fired over.

Luka Jovic replaced Hazard in the 62nd minute and nearly doubled Madrid's advantage, but he was unable to beat goalkeeper Carlos in the best opening before the final whistle.

Gerard Pique would not begrudge Philippe Coutinho a move away from Barcelona if it makes the Brazilian happy.

LaLiga champions Barca are reportedly prepared to loan out the former Liverpool star, with four Premier League clubs having been linked with a move.

Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham are rumoured to be interested, though with the English transfer window shutting on Thursday any deal would have to move swiftly.

Barca signed Coutinho in a deal reportedly worth €160million (£142m) in January 2018, but it has not worked out for the midfielder, who managed five LaLiga goals last term.

The signings of Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong seem to have further restricted Coutinho's chances under Ernesto Valverde, and Pique just wants the 27-year-old to be happy.

"I don't know," Pique told reporters in Miami when asked for an update on Coutinho.

"Obviously I want him to stay but at the end of the day it's what he wants and I want him to be happy. Let's see.

"Until the last day of the transfer market we will not know if he stays or not. But it's not my decision, it's the club's and Philippe's."

Coutinho is with Barca's squad in Miami as they prepare to face Napoli in the first of two friendlies against the Serie A club in the United States.

Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez were both left out of Real Madrid's squad for Los Blancos' friendly against Salzburg on Wednesday.

Unsettled forward Bale was on the verge of a move to Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning last month, but the proposed deal collapsed.

Bale did not feature in Madrid's last pre-season friendly – a 5-3 win over Fenerbahce on July 31 – having been left out of their squad for the Audi Cup due to illness.

The 30-year-old was spotted golfing, however, while Madrid were in action against his former club Tottenham a day earlier.

It does not appear a transfer is imminent for Bale, with agent Jonathan Barnett previously telling Omnisport his client will remain at Santiago Bernabeu despite a clear breakdown in his relationship with Zinedine Zidane.

Although seemingly being fit for selection, Bale has not been included in Madrid's 20-man squad for the meeting with Austrian champions Salzburg.

Bale is not the only big name to miss out, with James – who has not featured at all in Madrid's pre-season after two campaigns on loan at Bayern Munich – also not included.

Napoli and Atletico Madrid have both declared their interest in the Colombia playmaker, though no breakthrough has yet been made in a deal with either club.

Close-season signings Eden Hazard, Luka Jovic and Eder Militao do feature, though Ferland Mendy is out with a hamstring injury.

Tottenham are ready to make a splash before the transfer window closes in England – by landing Paulo Dybala and Philippe Coutinho.

The Champions League runners-up could add the two playmakers to their squad before the window shuts on Thursday, with Christian Eriksen potentially leaving.

In what looks set to be another chaotic end to the window, Spurs could be central to plenty of movement.

 

TOP STORY – SPURS' DYBALA OFFER ACCEPTED, EYE COUTINHO LOAN

Juventus have accepted a £65million (€70.6m) offer from Tottenham for Dybala, according to Sky Sports.

Dybala has already reportedly rejected a move to Manchester United due to an unwillingness to take a pay cut, and a switch to Spurs is now in his hands.

Tottenham are also leading the race to sign Barcelona attacker Coutinho on loan, according to The Sun.

Arsenal and United are said to be interested in Coutinho as well, though a report from AS claims the Gunners are not considering a move.

 

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- Spurs' moves for Dybala and Coutinho could send dominoes falling. United want to pay just £50m to take Eriksen – who is out of contract at the season's end – from Tottenham to Old Trafford, according to the Mirror.

- That would boost Real Madrid's hopes of signing Paul Pogba from United. Sport and Marca report the France international's chances of leaving the Red Devils rest on their ability to sign a replacement – like Eriksen – before the window closes in England.

- Barca are attempting to accelerate Neymar's return to Camp Nou. The cover of Sport says the Spanish champions are looking for Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic – who is potentially set for Paris Saint-Germain – to depart so they can land the Brazil star from the Ligue 1 giants.

- With Romelu Lukaku potentially set for Inter, Man United are looking for a replacement. Yahoo Sport France say the Premier League club have made an offer for Lyon forward Moussa Dembele.

- While Arsenal's possible chase of Coutinho is uncertain, they have been linked with defenders after Laurent Koscielny's departure to Bordeaux. Italian journalist Alfredo Pedulla reports Juve centre-back Daniele Rugani has agreed terms with the Gunners, who may initially take him on a two-year loan before paying £36.9m (€40m).

- Staying at the Emirates Stadium, Mesut Ozil could finally be set for the exit. The Mirror reports Ozil's representatives are set for talks with DC United over a move to MLS, where the German could replace Wayne Rooney after the forward's move to Derby County in January was confirmed.

 

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