Monaco have announced the signing of Benjamin Lecomte from fellow Ligue 1 side Montpellier.

Lecomte has signed a five-year deal after Monaco paid a reported €13million to buy the goalkeeper.

The 28-year-old has been Montpellier's first choice for two years and will compete with Danijel Subasic for the gloves.

Although yet to be capped, Lecomte has been named in France squads on two occasions by World Cup winning coach Didier Deschamps.

"I am proud to come to Monaco, a big club in the French league," Lecomte told Monaco's official club website.

"It's a new challenge in my career. I arrive with a lot of motivation and the desire to bring as much as possible to the group.

"I hope we all have a great season together. I am now looking forward to joining my new team-mates and starting this new adventure."

Lecomte is the first signing ahead of 2019-20 for Monaco, who lost playmaker Youri Tielemans to Leicester City.

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.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp expects Simon Mignolet to remain at Anfield despite the goalkeeper playing a back-up role to Alisson.

After the Brazil international signed from Roma a year ago, briefly becoming the world's most expensive goalkeeper, Alisson started all 38 Premier League games last term.

Mignolet was restricted to playing in domestic cup competitions but made only two appearances as Liverpool exited the EFL Cup and FA Cup early.

The Belgium goalkeeper said in January it was hard mentally to cope with bench duty, but Klopp is hopeful the 31-year-old will not be moving on.

"Yes. I would say, yes," Klopp told reporters when asked if he feels Mignolet will stay at Liverpool for the 2019-20 season. 

"I have had a lot of conversations with him in the last couple of years and months. We spoke before we left [for the close-season break].

"It is because at a club like Liverpool you need two number ones, at least, in the club. That's cool with Ali and Simon.

"A good situation for the club and a situation you should have. Everything is fine from my point of view."

Liverpool's pre-season campaign includes games against Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla and Napoli in the next two weeks.

After facing Manchester City in the Community Shield, Klopp's side then open the 2019-20 Premier League season at home to newly promoted Norwich City on August 9.

Barcelona have completed the signing of young Japan attacker Hiroki Abe on a four-year deal from Kashima Antlers.

The J1 League side confirmed Abe's impending departure on Friday after agreeing a reported €2million deal, and Barca have since announced his arrival.

Abe, 20, was named Rookie of the Year in Japan's top-flight last year and featured in all three of Japan's group matches at the 2019 Copa America.

He is expected to initially link up with Barca's second string but could feature for the first-team on their pre-season tour.

Matthijs de Ligt's transfer to Juventus is nearing its conclusion, according to Ajax's director of football Marc Overmars.

De Ligt's move away from Ajax is set to be one of the biggest deals of the transfer window, with the 19-year-old having been linked to a number of Europe's biggest clubs.

Serie A champions Juve are the team who look set to secure the 19-year-old centre-back, however, for a reported fee of €66million.

Ajax confirmed on Sunday that De Ligt had been left out of their travelling squad for a pre-season trip to Austria, and Overmars believes the transfer is all but done, with the player expected in Turin to undergo a medical on Tuesday.

"The end of the transfer of De Ligt is near," Overmars told reporters.

"We're awaiting bank guarantees, because we are very strict with this at Ajax. Hopefully things will progress, but I think there will be no further obstructions. They are Italians."

De Ligt will leave a big void in Ajax's defence, with the youngster having been instrumental in leading Erik ten Hag's side to the Champions League semi-finals last term.

Mexico international Edson Alvarez could act as De Ligt's replacement, though Overmars insists the Club America centre-back would have been a target regardless.

"This transfer is not depending on the development of De Ligt's transfer," Overmars added.

"Edson is a player we think is good, so he might come to us. He is a good age, 21, and plays on a regular basis in the national team of Mexico and we know him very well because we scouted him over a longer period.

"He has progressed very well, and he can play in many positions."

New Juventus signing Aaron Ramsey believes he has secured a "dream" move and insists he paid offers from other clubs no mind once he heard of the Old Lady's interest.

Ramsey left Arsenal on a free transfer at the end of the 2018-19 season, with the two parties failing to agree a new contract.

Juve are reported to have struck a deal with the Wales international in January, with their agreement being made official a month later.

It brought an 11-year association with the Gunners to an end, but also ensured he is able to return to the top of the European game, with Serie A champions Juve in the Champions League, unlike Arsenal.

It had been clear since the start of the season that it was to be Ramsey's final campaign at Emirates Stadium and numerous Italian clubs were linked with him, but there was only one place he wanted to be.

When asked in his presentation news conference if he ever considered another Italian side, Ramsey said: "As soon as I knew Juve were in for me, there was no question about where I was going to go. You can't turn down that opportunity.

"I'm so excited to be here and hopefully I can be a part of a new history. There were other clubs, but this is the right club for me.

"When I knew Juve were interested, I couldn't refuse them. It's a great club, one of the biggest. To have the opportunity to come here, play for them, is a dream to play at the top level.

"It's a challenge for myself as well, to come here, experience a different way of life, different culture. I'll take that in and embrace it.

"Hopefully it goes nicely over here. I know how hard it's going to be, but I've prepared myself for that and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Ramsey is not the only new recruit Juve have picked up from the Premier League, as coach Maurizio Sarri traded Stamford Bridge for Turin.

The Wales midfielder is familiar with the Italian and was impressed with his solitary campaign in England.

"From what I saw last season, he had a very good season for Chelsea," Ramsey said. "He got to two finals [the EFL Cup and Europa League], won one of them, and finished in the top four.

"That's not easy to do, so it was definitely a success. Hopefully he can bring his philosophy to this team, winning and playing good football, that's the ideal situation.

"Hopefully this will be something we can do, being really successful doing it."

Sevilla have continued their close-season spending spree by completing the reported €12million signing of former Spain Under-21 midfielder Oliver Torres from Porto on a five-year deal.

Torres, 24, came through the ranks at Atletico Madrid and showed real promise in his early days before Porto signed him for an apparent €20m fee in 2017, having had two successful loan spells at the club.

The first of Torres' loan stays saw him coached by new Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui, who had also worked with the playmaker while in charge of the Under-19, Under-20 and Under-21 sides in the Spain setup.

Torres struggled to hold down a first-team spot at Porto across the last two seasons, however, starting a total of 21 Primeira Liga games.

It is thought the technically gifted midfielder will stand a better chance of fulfilling his potential under a coach he has previously excelled with, and he will be expected to offer competition for Ever Banega and Franco Vazquez.

Torres' signing takes Sevilla's spending to a reported €123m this close-season, with returning sporting director Monchi overseeing a massive overhaul of a squad deemed to have underperformed in the past two campaigns.

The Atletico academy product joins Jules Kounde, Munas Dabbur, Diego Carlos, Lucas Ocampos, Joan Jordan, Luuk de Jong, Fernando and Sergio Reguilon in joining the club, while Maximilian Wober also had his loan made permanent.

Further arrivals are expected at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, with Monchi said to be open to losing almost every player from last season's squad, with the exceptions of Bryan Gil, Jesus Navas, Daniel Carrico, Sergio Escudero and Munir El Haddadi.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United need to find a player capable of replicating club great Bryan Robson.

United got their pre-season tour of Australia off to a winning start on Saturday, beating Perth Glory 2-0 at Optus Stadium.

Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka - the two players signed by United during the off-season so far - both made their debuts in the friendly.

While talks with Leicester City over a move for Harry Maguire appear to be ongoing, Solskjaer is reportedly keen to add a midfielder to United's ranks before the transfer window closes on August 8.

Newcastle United's Sean Longstaff has been linked, though the Magpies are rumoured to have demanded a £50million fee, while speculation suggests a deal for Sporting CP's Bruno Fernandes is proving troublesome.

Robson was a star of United's midfield in the 1980s and early 1990s, and Solskjaer suggested the Red Devils must look for a player who can play in a similar all-action style to the former England international to lead them back to challenging for top honours.

"We need to win again," Solskjaer told fans at an event in Perth that was also attended by Robson.

"We are on the way to building a new squad. We've got new staff in, coaching staff. I believe so much in this club and this project.

"To be manager of this club is fantastic. I'm standing next to the history of this club [Robson]. I never had the honour of playing with Robbo, but we need a player like him in the team.

"We're waiting for the young ones to come through because we've got so many exciting players and I'm sure we'll see the best of them in the years to come.

"There are some experienced ones as well that still have a few years left in them. We can get back to the level we were, definitely."

United face Leeds United in the second match of their Australian tour on Wednesday, before facing Inter, Tottenham and AC Milan in the International Champions Cup, with a friendly against Kristiansund also coming up.

Neymar has been defended by his father after the Paris Saint-Germain star claimed Barcelona's 6-1 Champions League win over his current employers was a career highlight.

PSG forward Neymar caused controversy when he failed to report in the French capital for pre-season training, with the club stating they would take "appropriate action", although the player's camp insisted it had been agreed he would not return until July 15.

The club's sporting director Leonardo later confirmed Neymar wished to leave PSG, though he stressed a move would only be sanctioned if a suitable offer was made, with Barca seemingly favourites to land their former forward despite the €120million arrival of Antoine Griezmann.

And Neymar - who is due to return to PSG on Monday - risked causing further anger when he declared Barca's magnificent comeback victory at Camp Nou in 2016-17 as one of his best memories from a professional dressing room.

However, Neymar's father has come to his son's defence, insisting the 27-year-old has not disrespected PSG with remarks that are similar to some he made two years ago.

"My son has not been lacking respect to PSG or the athletes who played that game in 2017," Neymar Sr. wrote on his official Instagram account.

"Some of them [involved in that game] are currently his club mates in France. From the end of that game to today, he always remembers this match as one of the most important in his career.

"There are a few journalists and fans around the world who consider this as the most important game of the athlete at the club. So why the controversy this time?

"My son is an athlete of PSG, but he cannot just ignore his history, history that made him reach the French club."

After Antoine Griezmann's long-awaited move to Barcelona, another transfer saga appears close to completion.

Leicester City and England centre-back Harry Maguire is reportedly poised for Manchester.

The red half will be happy…

 

TOP STORY – UNITED AGREE £80M DEAL FOR MAGUIRE

Manchester United have agreed to pay a world-record fee for a defender to sign Maguire from Leicester City, according to The Sun.

United will reportedly fork out £60million with an additional £20m available in add-ons, to see the England centre-back surpass Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk as the most expensive defender.

Premier League champions Manchester City were also linked to Maguire, however, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks set to get his man as he overhauls the Red Devils' defence following last season's sixth-place finish.

 

ROUND-UP

Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt will complete his transfer to Juventus by Monday, Gazzetta dello Sport says. Gianluca Di Marzio, meanwhile, reports that a medical should take place on Tuesday.

- Paris Saint-Germain are set to sign Borussia Dortmund defender Abdou Diallo, according to ESPN FC. The Ligue 1 champions will pay €32m for the France Under-21 international, who only joined Dortmund from Mainz in 2018.

- Tuttosport reports Torino have rejected a €60m offer from West Ham for star striker Andrea Belotti. The Hammers are desperate to sign a forward following Marko Arnautovic's move to China.

- Scottish champions Celtic have rejected Arsenal's latest bid – believed to be £25m – for left-back Kieran Tierney, according to Sky Sports.

Neymar's future with Paris Saint-Germain could be decided in talks in Paris this week, the Daily Mail says. The Brazil star has been linked with a stunning return to LaLiga holders Barcelona.

- According to L'Equipe, Spanish trio Real Betis, Sevilla and Valencia are all interested in signing Lyon captain Nabil Fekir.

Flamengo are looking to sign Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa, according to ESPN Brazil. The former Chelsea star has also been linked to Premier League duo Everton and Wolves.

- According to Marca, Tottenham and AC Milan target Dani Ceballos could be set to stay at Real Madrid. The LaLiga giants feel they cannot find better players than Ceballos at a reasonable price.

Stefan de Vrij insisted Inter are not thinking about ongoing speculation over Mauro Icardi's future with the Serie A club.

Icardi is set to leave after being told he can depart Inter, with the former captain not wanted by new head coach Antonio Conte.

The 26-year-old star endured a turbulent 2018-19 campaign after he was stripped of the captaincy amid conflicting views of an apparent knee injury and internal disagreements with the club's hierarchy.

Icardi continues to dominate headlines, with the Argentina international reportedly prepared to see out the final two years of his contract but Inter defender De Vrij told Sportitalia: "The Icardi issue doesn't concern us. We're only thinking about what we have to do."

De Vrij was speaking after Inter opened the Conte era with a 2-1 win over Lugano in their first pre-season fixture on Sunday.

Stefano Sensi and Marcelo Brozovic scored for the Nerazzurri, who took to the field for the first time since Conte replaced Luciano Spalletti.

"It was a good start," said De Vrij. "It's always great to be back out on the pitch. We've worked incredibly hard this week but it was necessary to start getting minutes in the legs.

"These matches are needed to help us understand what the coach wants, and how we want to play. It went well, it was important to get off to a start like this."

On Conte, De Vrij added: "I like his approach, he’s always positive and he explains well what he wants."

Sensi – who swapped Sassuolo for Inter on an initial loan deal with the option to buy – opened the scoring in the 25th minute before Brozovic doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time.

Speaking after his first outing, Sensi told Inter TV: "We're especially pleased because we tried to demonstrate the coach's methods out on the pitch.

"My goal? I'm happy with it, it's always important to start on the right foot and I believe that I've done so."

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."

Antoine Griezmann insists he does not regret the 'Decision' documentary that revealed he was rejecting Barcelona last year and is convinced he can repair any damage caused with his efforts on the pitch for the Blaugrana.

Barca had been strongly linked with a move for Griezmann in 2018 and were even reported to have struck an agreement with him, as Atletico reported the Catalan club to FIFA at the end of 2017.

The prolonged saga reached its conclusion with a documentary following Griezmann as he made up his mind about whether to move or stay in Madrid, with the clip produced by Gerard Pique's production company.

In the end he revealed his choice was to remain and sign a new five-year contract at Atletico, but 13 months later he became a Barca player after his €120million release clause was triggered by the LaLiga champions on Friday.

Griezmann received significant criticism for the documentary and he was asked about it in his presentation news conference at Camp Nou on Sunday.

"I've done some bad things in my past and I've never regretted it because it's something I wanted to do at the time," he told reporters.

"I wanted to show what is not seen and I have not toyed with both parties. The most important thing is that we are now together. You have to ask for forgiveness, for some it will be on the field."

When asked whether Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi could be annoyed with him, he added: "They could be, but I think that with the assistance that I can give them, we can fix everything."

Given the fairly short amount of time between rejecting Barca and then joining them, many have wondered why there was a change of heart, particularly given he signed a five-year deal with Atletico last year.

For Griezmann it is simple – he was not ready to make such a step in 2018.

"I have a family to move," he said. "I saw my wife, my world, and I was not ready to take the step, and this year has been different.

"It's always difficult to leave a home where we felt comfortable with family and friends, it was difficult. I only have admiration and respect for Atletico.

"I wanted a new challenge, to try to improve myself, not be comfortable. I look for my place in a great club and try to win the three titles."

Atletico Madrid have no proof to back up their claims Barcelona had an agreement in place with Antoine Griezmann as early as March, according to Blaugrana president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Barca triggered Griezmann's €120million release clause and completed the signing of the France international on Friday, presenting him as their player two days later.

But shortly after Barca announced Griezmann's signing, Atletico released a statement challenging the deal, adamant the player and the Catalan club struck an agreement over personal terms in March.

As such, Atletico felt they were entitled to €200m rather than €120m, the figure his release clause dropped to on July 1.

However, Bartomeu is relaxed about the situation and is convinced Atletico have no grounds for such demands.

"I have spoken to them, but I do not think there is any proof, because there is no evidence of anything," Bartomeu told reporters at Griezmann's presentation.

"I understand everyone defends their interests and I've spoken to [Enrique] Cerezo [Atletico president], but I don't see that the case can evolve in a positive way for them. There's nothing.

"We contacted Griezmann after he made the video saying goodbye to the fans, there was nothing in March."

Rumoured Bayern Munich target Kai Havertz has ruled out a move away from Bayer Leverkusen for at least another year.

The 20-year-old enjoyed an impressive campaign with the Bundesliga side last season and has been linked with a €90million switch to champions Bayern.

Havertz has been with Leverkusen since the age of 11 and is in no rush to move on just yet, although he admitted he may be interested in a transfer further down the line.

"For me, it has long been clear that I will spend the next season in Leverkusen, without any ifs and buts," he told Suddeutsche Zeitung.

"I feel very well in Leverkusen and I see a period here in which I can develop very well.

"At some point I will take the next step. If it comes to that, then no one will be angry with me here. You just want to achieve the most possible in your career."

A number of other European clubs have been tipped to move for Havertz on the back of a campaign that saw him score 17 goals and set up three more in the German top flight.

But Leverkusen managing director Rudi Voller previously told any interested suitors to forget about bidding for the Germany international, who is under contract at BayArena until 2022.

"It's logical for clubs to come close, but there was nothing to be agreed and not too much to talk about," Havertz said. "For the coming season, I can definitely say that Leverkusen is the right place for me."

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