Barcelona should prioritise re-signing Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain over bringing Lautaro Martinez to Camp Nou, insisted former star Rivaldo.

LaLiga champions Barca tried to lure Neymar back to the club following his world-record €222million move to PSG in 2017, however, a deal did not materialise at the start of the season.

Barca are also reportedly determined to sign Inter's star forward Martinez as they eye a long-term replacement for veteran Luis Suarez.

Rivaldo – who won a pair of LaLiga titles during his time with the Catalan giants – believes Neymar is ready to lead Barca alongside six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi.

"The rumours are growing about Barcelona's intention to sign Neymar and Lautaro Martinez in the next transfer window," Rivaldo wrote in his column for Betfair.

"Although the young Argentinian is a good player, I think that only Neymar is a certain bet to claim a place in the starting XI side by side with Messi.

"Looking at the last few years we have seen many valuable players who didn't manage to play alongside Messi - failing to perform under the expectations.

"But Neymar - like Luis Suarez - is one of the few players in the world that doesn't feel pressure on the pitch, always playing with plenty of personality.

"He never gets frightened and it would be a safe option for the club while Martinez is a young, talented forward that perhaps in two or three years may become a good signing.

"For now I think the club should prioritise Neymar. I'm a fan of his qualities and personality and I know that sometimes I'm liable to criticism as some Barcelona fans didn't like the way Neymar decided to leave the club.

"But the truth is that he is a different player now who should be a nice help to Messi and co. in trying to win another Champions League."

Liverpool have reportedly put their plans to sign Timo Werner on hold, while Paulo Dybala's future could be clearer soon.

Werner, 24, was heavily linked with a move to Liverpool from RB Leipzig, but the coronavirus pandemic may have changed that.

Meanwhile, Dybala's future is set to be clear shortly.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL PUT WERNER PLANS ON HOLD

Liverpool have put their plans to sign Werner on hold and also stopped contract talks due to coronavirus, according to The Daily Mail.

There is uncertainty over the financial statuses of sporting clubs around the world due to coronavirus and Liverpool are waiting until there is greater clarity.

Star midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and defender Dejan Lovren are among the Liverpool players out of contract in 2021.

One club seemingly not prepared to wait are Juventus, with CalcioMercato reporting Dybala is getting closer to a contract extension with the Serie A giants.

 

ROUND-UP

- Luka Modric is going nowhere. AS claims the midfielder will see out his contract, which runs until 2021, at Real Madrid. Just what Madrid's midfield looks like next season remains to be seen. Sport says Madrid will let James Rodriguez leave and bring Martin Odegaard back from his loan spell at Real Sociedad. It also reports Takefusa Kubo will be used as part of a deal to bring back Odegaard.

- Talk about a deal that would see Neymar return to Barcelona and Antoine Griezmann join Paris Saint-Germain remains alive. According to Sport, PSG would welcome Griezmann while they attempt to re-sign Kylian Mbappe to unite the France team-mates at club level.

- One player unlikely to be at PSG is Edinson Cavani. Tuttosport reports Napoli are thinking about bringing the forward, who is out of contract at the end of the season, back to the Stadio San Paolo.

- Marc-Andre ter Stegen's future remains unclear. Sport claims Barcelona and the goalkeeper are no closer to renewing a contract that will expire in 2022.

- Henrikh Mkhitaryan is seemingly happy on loan at Roma, but whether he stays remains to be seen. The Daily Express says Arsenal have rejected two bids – the last one around €11.4million (£10m) – from the Serie A club, who may instead turn to Chelsea's Pedro.

- As they plan a move for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, Chelsea have told Willian he has no chance of getting a three-year deal, according to the Mirror. Willian is out of contract at the end of the season.

Lautaro Martinez is an "asset" for Inter and is happy at the Serie A club despite transfer links, according to their vice-president Javier Zanetti.

Martinez, 22, is reportedly being targeted by the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid after impressing at Inter.

The Argentina international has scored 16 goals in 31 games in all competitions this season.

Zanetti said Martinez was happy at San Siro, where he arrived from Racing Club for a reported €22.7million in 2018.

"I'm happy to talk about [Lautaro] because when we signed him we had been following him for some time," he told Sky Sport on Thursday.

"He was one of the most promising players in Argentine football and [Diego] Milito thought he'd have a big future.

"Now he's an asset for us and he's grown a lot. I see him training every week. He's happy with us and I hope he stays for a long time."

Martinez had helped Inter sit third, nine points behind leaders Juventus, in Serie A when the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Zanetti hopes normal life can resume soon in Italy, which has been hit hard by coronavirus, with more than 13,900 deaths.

"Thinking about recovery is very difficult today. Until April 13 it is right to stay home to allow the epidemiological curve to go down, then we will return to normal life gradually," he said.

"We are in a dramatic situation all over the world. The coronavirus is affecting many populations and should not be underestimated."

Boca Juniors will not be signing Edinson Cavani when his Paris Saint-Germain contract expires because the Superliga champions feel he is out of their reach financially, according to the club's president.

Cavani's seven-year stay with PSG looks set to be coming to an end, with the 33-year-old striker's deal in Paris due to expire in June.

The Uruguay international has enjoyed a wonderful spell at the Parc des Princes, winning 18 domestic trophies and becoming the club's all-time leading goalscorer, surpassing Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

But the writing was on the wall for Cavani when PSG signed Mauro Icardi from Inter on an initial loan last year – the former Napoli star subsequently falling out of favour, with Kylian Mbappe and Neymar also ahead of him in the pecking order.

Boca emerged as a potential next destination after club adviser Jorge Bermudez hinted at their interest and the player's apparent desire to represent the Xeneizes, but president Jorge Amor Ameal has since discounted their chances.

"We are proud that a player like Cavani says he wants to wear our shirt, but our economic reality doesn't match with his," Ameal is quoted as saying to Radio Splendid by EFE.

"Of course, no one is going to argue that Cavani isn't a great player, but we have to think more about our existing players and believe in them."

Cavani had been strongly linked with a move to Atletico Madrid in January, but a transfer failed to materialise.

Barcelona are prepared to use Antoine Griezmann in a deal to land Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

Neymar, 28, has constantly been linked with a return to Camp Nou, but ended up staying at PSG during the last close season.

It seems Barcelona will pursue the Brazil international again and they may be prepared to offer Griezmann in a deal.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA TO OFFER GRIEZMANN TO PSG IN NEYMAR DEAL

Despite it proving such an ordeal to sign Griezmann in the first place, Barca will try to use him as a makeweight in a deal to land Neymar, according to Sky Sports.

The report says the Spanish giants are prepared to let Griezmann go just one season after signing him from Atletico Madrid, as they reportedly also target Inter forward Lautaro Martinez.

Barca will try to sell the forward elsewhere if PSG are not interested, the story claims, with the Frenchman underwhelming since his switch to Camp Nou.

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool are apparently preparing for a battle with Germany. The Mirror reports Germany see Jurgen Klopp – contracted at Anfield until 2024 – as a successor to coach Joachim Low.

Manchester United remain interested in Erling Haaland. ESPN claims the Premier League club are again ready to compete for the forward's services with Real Madrid if the Norway international decides to leave Borussia Dortmund.

- Will Gareth Bale remain at Real Madrid? The Mirror suggests the Wales international is ready to fight for his place at the Santiago Bernabeu despite his differences with coach Zinedine Zidane.

Saul Niguez is apparently wanted in the Premier League. AS says Man United are willing to pay around £71million (€80m) for the Atletico midfielder, who has a release clause of £132.5m (€150m).

Barcelona may be prepared to sell players this close season, but Arthur will not be among them. Sport reports the Spanish champions see the midfielder as a key player. Meanwhile, it is also claimed Gent star Jonathan David has been offered to the Blaugrana.

Juventus have reportedly secured the futures of two players. Rai Sport understands Blaise Matuidi has extended his contract with Juve until 2021, while Marko Pjaca – who is on loan at Anderlecht – has agreed to a deal until 2023.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is unsure what his future holds amid reports he will leave AC Milan at the end of the season and possibly retire.

Ibrahimovic, 38, returned to Milan in December and scored four goals in 10 appearances before the campaign was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The former Barcelona, Inter and Manchester United star is reportedly considering his future, with his contract at Milan expiring at season's end.

But Ibrahimovic said even he was unsure about what was ahead as he considers his options.

"Let's see," he told Svenska Dagbladet on Wednesday.

"I don't even know what I want. Something new happens every day. Who could have predicted this with corona? We just have to try to live and enjoy life.

"Don't worry too much. I have a family to take care of, they feel good so I feel good."

Italy has been hit hard by coronavirus, reporting more than 110,000 cases and 13,100 deaths.

Ibrahimovic said the health of the community had to come first, with the Serie A season suspended indefinitely.

"It started to spread to football. They shut down the whole training facility, we were not allowed to move outside," he said.

"It is tragic that football leagues shut down, but we must respect the system and be patient. They must find a solution that is good for the whole community.

"Health is above all sport. I'm not worried about corona. I think it will be solved, it's just to wait until the experts know what to do."

Borja Mayoral expects to receive clarity over his Real Madrid future after this season but accepts matters are not solely in his hands.

The striker has been on loan at Levante since August 2018, scoring eight goals in 54 LaLiga appearances in that time.

Mayoral, who was previously with Wolfsburg for the 2016-17 campaign, is approaching the final year of his contract with boyhood club Madrid.

While he is staying calm over his future, particularly with football seasons mostly on hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic, the 22-year-old hopes to have more concrete ideas about where he will be playing in the coming months.

"I try to focus on the present," he told AS. "There are still matches [to play this season] and hopefully the competition will resume. Now, I think about finishing LaLiga in the best possible way. Then there will be time to think about what follows.

"Ultimately, I'm calm because I have one year left with Real Madrid. I've had two years at Levante and it's true that this summer I think a different decision will be made regarding me.

"But, as I say, I'm facing it in the best possible way, with all the excitement. What will come will come. I'm really happy, and calm above all, which is what is important.

"I've not been contacted personally [by Madrid]. My agent handles that more, but I don't think they've been contacted.

"I also think that everything will return to normal when this happens, and there will be more conversations about my future.

"I'm young, I know I have a lot of potential to give yet. In the end, if a player is expensive, it's because he's good and because he's loved.

"In the end, as I've told you before, it doesn't just depend on me, it also depends on Real Madrid and what they want to do with me."

Mayoral, who still has friends and family in Madrid, revealed it had been a challenging time during Spain's nationwide lockdown aimed at curbing the coronavirus spread.

"I have a lot of friends there and my whole family are from there," he said. "I'm constantly in contact with them to ask how they are, with my grandparents, too, who we know are risk factors. I try to speak with them almost every day."

Manuel Neuer will be number one at Bayern Munich next season and will help Alexander Nubel to develop, according to Oliver Kahn.

Neuer's contract expires in 2021 and there are reports of an impasse in talks over a new deal, leading to suggestions the 34-year-old could be moved on at the end of the season.

Bayern have already signed Nubel on a five-year deal, with the Schalke goalkeeper to switch to the Allianz Arena on a free transfer ahead of the next campaign.

However, Bayern board member and former keeper Kahn expects Nubel to be second choice next term, as he predicts Neuer will continue at the highest level for some time.

"In general, as I have shown myself, goalkeepers can of course play into old age, but maintaining a high level is a great challenge," Kahn, who retired at 38, told Sport Bild.

"In Alexander Nubel, we get a highly talented goalkeeper, who has the chance to develop and learn behind Manuel Neuer. Not many have the opportunity to work with the best goalkeeper in the world every day."

While 2019-20 is on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bayern are said to be putting transfer plans in place ahead of next season.

Interim boss Hansi Flick said this month that he believes coaches should have the power to veto transfers proposed by club managers, amid suggestions he has been at odds with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic over Bayern's planning.

Kahn admits it is important that Bayern "march in one direction in order to develop the team further".

He added: "Of course, the coach is a very important factor in terms of transfer plans. Hasan Salihamidzic, Hansi Flick and I discussed and coordinated this and other topics intensively.

"The coach can and should put forward his ideas."

Dani Ceballos recognises he faces an uncertain future at Arsenal and wants to "be important for my new team".

Spain midfielder Ceballos is on a season-long loan at the Gunners from Real Madrid, a deal which is due to expire on June 30.

With nearly all of European football on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, it remains to be seen when or even if the season will be finished and what the situation is for players like Ceballos if the campaign heads into July.

Ceballos has had a hit-and-miss time at Arsenal, missing chunks of the season due to injury, but had worked his way into Mikel Arteta's plans before the Premier League ground to a halt.

And the 23-year-old is unsure how things will pan out.

"I finish my contract on June 30 but I would have to [continue to] play for Arsenal [when football returns]. I don't know how [that would work with his loan technically having finished]," he told El Chiringuito de Jugones.

"It would be irresponsible from my side to talk about my future. The most important thing will be to be important for my new team. 

"I came to Arsenal to be an important player but in the last month that all disappeared [due to coronavirus stopping football]."

In January, it was reported Valencia were interested in taking over Ceballos' loan, while he has also been linked with Sevilla.

However, the latter move is not one that particularly appeals given he used to play for Sevilla's fierce rivals Real Betis.

"I knew about Valencia's interest in having my services. There was also talk of Sevilla and Betis," he added.

"When they connect you with these teams it is for a reason. I am very Betis and it would be difficult for me to play for Sevilla. 

"I would only play for Betis, it is my team and the one that gave me the opportunity to be a footballer. I did not get to speak with Julen Lopetegui to sign for Sevilla."

Neymar, Lautaro Martinez or both? Barcelona may have a decision to make this close season.

Neymar has been linked with a return to Camp Nou, while the LaLiga giants are also reportedly interested in Inter star Martinez.

Barcelona could be forced to choose between the two in the next transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR, MARTINEZ OR BOTH? BARCELONA'S BIG DECISION

Barcelona want both Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and Inter's Martinez but know it will be difficult to land the duo, according to Sport.

It reports landing Martinez is shaping to be easier as Inter are willing to accept players as part of a deal.

Martinez has scored 16 goals in 31 games for Inter this season, while Neymar has netted 18 times in 22 appearances for PSG.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United could be turning to an old target. ESPN reports the Premier League club are prepared to make a bid for Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt if the Serie A giants are open to a sale this close season.

- Harry Kane's future at Tottenham seemingly remains unclear. But The Daily Mail says Spurs are confident of keeping the forward, who said on Monday he would not stay at the club just "for the sake of it".

- It looks like Jadon Sancho to Liverpool will not be happening. The Mirror claims the Premier League leaders are not targeting the Borussia Dortmund star, leaving United and Chelsea as the English clubs still in the chase.

- Where will Philippe Coutinho end up next season? Sport reports Leicester City are interested in a loan deal for the playmaker, who is on loan at Bayern Munich from Barcelona. Staying at Camp Nou and Sport says Barcelona are considering a move for Layvin Kurzawa, who is out of contract at PSG at season's end, as a back-up to Jordi Alba.

- Edinson Cavani is also out of contract at the end of the season at PSG, but CalcioMercato reports the Uruguayan striker will not be joining Atletico Madrid, the club he has been linked to.

- With Alexis Sanchez set to return to Manchester United from his loan spell at Inter, The Sun reports the club will be forced to pay the attacker a £1.1million loyalty payment.

Diego Godin compared in-demand Inter team-mate Lautaro Martinez to Luis Suarez and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero amid links to Barcelona.

Martinez has reportedly emerged as Barca's top transfer target, with the LaLiga champions keen to sign a long-term replacement for veteran forward Suarez.

Barca's LaLiga rivals Madrid are also reportedly interested, while Premier League giants Manchester United and Manchester City have both been linked.

Inter defender Godin heaped praise on 22-year-old Argentina international Martinez, who had scored 16 goals across all competitions before Serie A was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Lautaro is similar to Luis and Sergio Aguero," the Uruguayan centre-back told ESPN.

"He's learning to play using his whole body, with his back to the ball. He's a football player.

"His confidence has a high ceiling and he's maturing with every match. You can spot things in him that tell you he'll be around for 10 or 15 years."

Martinez swapped Racing Club for Inter in 2018 and he has quickly established himself as one of the most sought-after forwards in European football.

He has scored 25 goals in total since joining Inter from Racing Club in Argentina.

Independiente head coach Lucas Pusineri hopes Manchester City star Sergio Aguero one day returns to the club.

Aguero came through the youth ranks at Independiente before joining Atletico Madrid in 2006 and moving to City five years later.

His former Independiente team-mate, Pusineri, is now in charge of the Argentine club and wants Aguero – and Milan midfielder Lucas Biglia – to return.

"With Sergio Aguero and Lucas Biglia I have a beautiful relationship," he told InfiernoRojo on Tuesday.

"We were partners and I have a lot of respect for the trajectories they have taken with Argentina and in Europe as well."

Pusineri added: "Of course it would be nice to have them tomorrow. In the future, it is hopeful to count on them."

Aguero has said previously he wants to return to Independiente, although his contract at City runs until 2021.

He scored 23 goals in 30 games before this season was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Paris Saint-Germain ended strong speculation about Jonathan Ikone joining Juventus when finally securing him to a professional contract in 2016. At the time, it was seen as a potential turning point for PSG's academy.

The attacker, who grew up in the same area of Paris as Kylian Mbappe, had long attracted admiring glances from some of Europe's biggest clubs, so PSG were eager to not let another get away.

Two years earlier, Kingsley Coman left for Juve when it became clear a route into the starting XI – and the France squad – was more straightforward in Turin than in Paris and, although injuries have since disrupted his career, there's little doubt PSG have been made to rue their ineptitude on that front.

Ikone's emergence was supposed to redeem PSG. For much of the QSI era, their use of homegrown young players has been heavily scrutinised.

"Jonathan is a midfielder with a big future," club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said after the contract was announced. "His signature is another example of the importance the youth academy holds for the club and just how much the club is counting on these young academy graduates."

But in 2018, PSG sold Ikone to Lille for a relatively insignificant fee – and the player has blossomed since his departure. 

False hope and new beginnings

After helping PSG to the UEFA Youth League final in 2015-16, Ikone's new contract was followed by promotion to the first team. He made a smattering of appearances before being allowed to join Montpellier on loan in January 2017.

This spell provided Ikone with his first genuine exposure to first-team football, playing 14 times in the second half of the 2016-17 Ligue 1 season.

He returned to Montpellier for the following campaign and, while it was not quite as fruitful as his first stint at the club, he did enough to earn a reported €5million switch to Lille, whose applaudable transfer policy in recent years has seen them snap up a host of well-regarded young players.

"We can say that PSG train young players very well, but actually playing there is complicated," Ikone told L'Equipe last year. "But the training you get in Paris, it's the best. Really, I enjoyed my time at PSG. I have no regrets. Getting playing time there is difficult, there are really great players there. So, I decided to show my talent at another club."

The transfer again raised doubts from some with respect to PSG's handling of their academy, while others suggested Ikone had not done enough to earn fresh terms, with the chance to earn a reasonable fee too good to turn down for PSG given his deal was due to expire in 2019.

Lille are reaping the rewards and will likely earn a significant fee when – if – he eventually leaves, with the latest reports suggesting he could be bound for the Premier League and Everton. At least PSG managed to secure a sell-on fee, which could amount to as much as 40 per cent of €70m, Les Dogues' apparent asking price.

Establishing himself

Although his skill set makes him a versatile option in attack, Ikone is at his most threatening when deployed as a no.10, behind the main striker.

The inside-right channel is where he operates most often, coming inside on to his left foot, allowing him a greater range of options whether he's dribbling, looking for a disguised pass or simply feeding Victor Osimhen into the space beyond defences.

Having been a regular option throughout the French youth setup, Ikone earned his first call-up to the senior side in September and netted on his debut, becoming the first player to do so for Les Bleus since Younes Kaboul and Marvin Martin in June 2011.

Skilful and inventive on the ball, there is a lot to like about Ikone, but he will not need anyone to tell him that staying in contention is not going to be an easy job.

France are blessed with a host of options in attack, many of whom boast similar strengths to Ikone.

Menacing but not in it for the long haul

Having scored three and set up nine goals in Ligue 1 last term, Ikone cannot be accused of a lack of consistency or taking a drastic backwards step. With a chunk of the season still remaining, he has the same amount of goals and six assists.

Ikone is averaging a goal involvement every 230 minutes, five less than last term, and appears to be playing with even greater confidence.

After averaging 3.6 dribbles per game in 2018-19, that's increased to just under five in 2019-20, while his completion rate has remained almost identical at 55 per cent. By comparison, Neymar's is 56 per cent.

Nevertheless, Ikone's productivity in the final third has significant room for improvement.

With 31 key passes, he is way behind the likes of Dimitri Payet (87), Angel Di Maria (77) and Zinedine Ferhat (52).

There are also doubts about his endurance. Since the start of last season, Ikone has been taken off 43 times in Ligue 1 alone.

But, at 21, he is developing impressively. While €70m may look a little steep at the moment, any potential buyer will hope there is still plenty more to come.

Jadon Sancho is the name on everyone's lips.

The Borussia Dortmund teenager has taken Europe by storm and clubs are queuing up.

But Manchester United are reportedly at the front of the line.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED IN TOUCH WITH SANCHO AGENT

Manchester United have contacted Jadon Sancho's agent as they look to sign the Borussia Dortmund sensation, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Sancho tops the list of United's transfer targets following his exploits for the Bundesliga side, with Liverpool and Chelsea also reportedly interested.

But Dortmund – who will not stand in Sancho's way of a departure – are unwilling to budge on their €110million (£98m) valuation.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport reports Chelsea are preparing a huge contract offer for Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. It comes as the Blues reportedly look to sell Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Juventus are interested in Achraf Hakimi, says Calciomercato. Achraf is set to return to Real Madrid following a two-year loan spell at Dortmund. Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked to the Moroccan full-back.

Inter have named their price for Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez, Calciomercato reports. With a release clause of €111m, Inter want at least €80m in cash.

- Birmingham City's 16-year-old star Jude Bellingham is set to reject a transfer to United in favour of Dortmund, says Bild.

Tottenham and Arsenal, along with Crystal Palace and West Ham, are eyeing Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren, according to Team Talk.

- Calciomercato claims Inter have not given up on signing Napoli forward Dries Mertens on a free transfer. The Belgian star is out of contract at the end of 2019-20.

Madrid is the preferred option for Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga, says Marca. Liverpool, Dortmund and PSG have also emerged as possible suitors for the 17-year-old.

- Corriere dello Sport says Valencia are eyeing Inter centre-back Diego Godin, who has been linked to United and Tottenham.

Roma are lining up a move for Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa, says Diario AS. Clubs in Brazil and Qatar are also reportedly circling.

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