Renato Sanches' public criticism of Bayern Munich for apparently not letting him leave the club has been met with bafflement by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.

The 22-year-old joined Bayern to much fanfare in 2016 after impressing with Benfica and Portugal, establishing himself as one of the world's most promising teenagers.

But things have not gone to plan for Sanches in the Bundesliga, struggling before and since an unsuccessful loan spell at Swansea City in 2017-18.

Niko Kovac's appointment at Bayern last year appeared to provide Sanches with hope of kickstarting his career in Germany, but again his impact was underwhelming.

After a five-minute cameo in Friday's 2-2 draw with Hertha Berlin, Sanches complained about his playing time and questioned why the club had twice refused to let him leave, much to Salihamidzic's confusion.

"Renato has played three times since the start the season," Salihamidzic told reporters during the presentation of new signing Mickael Cuisance, midfield challenger to Sanches' place in the squad.

"Against Borussia Dortmund he was subbed on, in the DFB-Pokal he started and this weekend, although it was only for five minutes, he was also subbed on.

"Therefore, I didn't really understand why he had to make these remarks. We will see [if he stays], I already explained on Monday that we'll keep all our options open until September 2 [when the transfer window closes].

"Other than that, I don't want to say much more about it."

Cuisance, 20, will be hoping to not fall short of expectations at Bayern like Sanches, with Salihamidzic revealing the club to be long-time admirers of the France youth international talent, who joins from Borussia Monchengladbach for a reported €12million.

"We always tried to get him to Bayern," Salihamidzic said of Cuisance. "He is a player who can play all positions in midfield.

"He is a very creative player with a very good left foot. He is very creative and feels comfortable in a small spaces. Even under pressure, he has no problems and has great technique.

"He has a very good idea of the game, which has been seen in the French youth teams. He also showed this in his first year in Monchengladbach, so he is very interesting for our team.

"We expect him to develop further here and I'm sure we'll have a lot of fun with him."

David de Gea and Kepa Arrizabalaga could be made to share Spain's number one shirt with neither player guaranteed a starting spot under Robert Moreno.

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa has started each of the national team's three matches since former head coach Luis Enrique handed the reins to long-time assistant Moreno in March.

Manchester United star De Gea previously owned the position, but a poor World Cup and disappointing club campaign last season weakened his claims for a place in the XI.

Spain return to Euro 2020 qualifying action in September and will do so without a defined first-choice option behind the back four.

"My goalkeepers are De Gea, Kepa and [Roma's] Pau Lopez," Moreno told radio station Cadena SER.

"I like that there is competition. Kepa is not ahead of De Gea, and neither is ahead of Pau.

"I want to get to the Euros with three goalkeepers who are ready to compete. They are all playing at a high level and there are nuances and differences between them. All three have good footwork.

"At Barca, we won the treble alternating goalkeepers."

Despite his limited experience as a head coach, Moreno was appointed to Spain's top job on a permanent basis in June after recording three victories as caretaker.

Luis Enrique was forced to leave the role for family reasons and while little is publicly known about the exact circumstances, Moreno confirmed he has recently been in contact with the former Roma and Barca boss.

"He wants total privacy. There is little else I can tell you. He's fighting," Moreno said.

"Our friendship goes beyond the professional field. If at any time I have questions, I have the freedom, as long as the circumstances allow, to ask them.

"I learned from him how to deal with players. Learn how they think, what they want, what they need.

"Books do not explain it to you. He put me by his side and taught me all that."

Neymar continues to dominate the headlines and Barcelona look set to finally get serious in a move for the Paris Saint-Germain star.

The Brazil international, 27, has been linked with a move from PSG, but progress has seemingly been slow amid links to Barca and Real Madrid.

It appears Juventus are now ready to join the race, too, as Barcelona prepare to submit an offer.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA TO SUBMIT NEYMAR BID

Barcelona have decided to submit a formal offer to PSG for Neymar, according to RAC1.

The cover of Sport reads 'Offer Offical' as Barcelona continue their pursuit of the star they sold to PSG for €222million two years ago.

They say Barca are hoping to get a deal done and have an option to buy Neymar next season.

 

ROUND-UP

- There may yet be a bit to play out in the Neymar saga. AS report Juventus have opened talks with PSG and are keen to sign the Brazil star, willing to offer Neymar the €37m per year net he currently makes at PSG.

- Paulo Dybala could be part of a Juventus move for Neymar. Dybala was reportedly close to a Premier League switch earlier this month and is valued at €80m and a target for PSG, according to Sport and the Daily Mail, giving the Ligue 1 champions an ideal replacement for Neymar.

- Christian Eriksen's Tottenham future remains unclear. However, ESPN FC report the Denmark international is only interested in moving to Barcelona, Real Madrid or Juventus if he leaves Tottenham.

- As Barcelona try to find a deal for Neymar, Nelson Semedo has been one of the players mentioned as part of a potential package. However, Marca report the defender does not want to go to PSG and Barca are aware.

- Roma are still trying to strengthen their defence and Arsenal's Shkodran Mustafi has emerged as a target, according to TuttoMercatoWeb. The Serie A giants would consider an initial loan move for the defender.

- Franck Ribery could be close to making a decision on his future. According to Fabrizio Romano, the former Bayern Munich star is in advanced talks with Fiorentina.

Jurgen Klopp revealed Liverpool could not afford to bring Philippe Coutinho back to Anfield as he backed the attacker to shine at Bayern Munich.

Coutinho's move to the Bundesliga champions was confirmed on Monday, the Brazil international joining on a season-long loan from Barcelona with Bayern holding an option to buy for €120million.

The 27-year-old had also been linked with a return to Liverpool, where he starred for five seasons before joining Barca.

Klopp said the European champions could not spend the money required to sign Coutinho, with Bayern paying an €8.5m loan fee and the star's wages.

"It sounds a bit strange, but we could not afford it," he said at the Sport Bild awards on Monday.

"We have already spent the money that we got for him."

Klopp backed Coutinho to shine for Bayern after struggling to have an impact at Barcelona.

"He's a great player, a great boy," the former Borussia Dortmund coach said.

"We were reluctant to sell him, but Barcelona forced us with money, so to speak.

"He is a player who can change games for the positive. It's not that nice for Dortmund, but it's a great transfer for Bayern and the Bundesliga."

The Reggae Boyz will kickstart their Nations League group stage effort on Friday against Antigua and Barbuda at the Montego Bay Sports Complex on the island’s north coast.

The game will be played on September 6, leaving the Reggae Boyz, who last played in the Gold Cup, ending their campaign in the semi-finals, with little turn-around time before their game against Guyana on September 9.

The team will leave the island September 7 for that fixture.

Coach of the Reggae Boyz, Theodore Whitmore, is under no illusions about how important these games are, expressing those sentiments to key executives of the Jamaica Football Federation just recently.

“It is important that that then edn of the group phase the country finishes in the top six in CONCACAF in order to be in the best position entering the World Cup qualifiers in September 2020,” he said.

Whitmore was appealing to the executive members for support in the next few months, saying even after that, all international fixtures took on significance.

"Even after finishing in the top six in November 2019, it will be important to maintain that position through other FIFA international match dates down to June 2020, so I am urging total focus and support through the next couple of months in the first instance," he said.

Rule changes in the region, mean that only the top six teams will be allowed to play in qualifiers for a direct place in the World Cup.

The teams finishing outside of that top six will play for FIFA’s half-spot, meaning they will play against each other for the right to play against the team that finishes fourth from the top-six.

That game will be played in a home-and-away format and will determine another fixture of the same nature against a team from another region. Those two will then play for a World Cup berth.

The hexagonal will feature 10 games for each team, beginning in September.

There will also be games in October and November this year, before a restart in March of 2021. The games conclude in September of 2021, just over a year before the World Cup.

Manchester United were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at Wolves after Paul Pogba had a second-half penalty saved by Rui Patricio at Molineux.

Ruben Neves' sublime 55th-minute strike cancelled out Anthony Martial's opener but Pogba had a golden chance to take the points when he was brought down by Conor Coady.

At that point, confusion reigned. Marcus Rashford, who rifled in from the spot during last weekend's 4-0 win over Chelsea, willingly gave up the ball to Pogba after a short conversation.

"This is a Manchester United penalty, not a tombola!" club great Gary Neville shrieked while reviewing the incident on Sky Sports. "Something's not right!"

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer explained afterwards that both Rashford and Pogba were designated takers but, as the numbers show, United's chances of victory took a dive the moment their record signing grasped the nettle.

Pogba's penalty conversion percentage of 63.6 is the sixth lowest in Premier League history out of players to have taken 10 or more.

Only Juan Pablo Angel, Riyad Mahrez, Steed Malbranque, Dwight Yorke and Kevin Phillips have fared worse than the France international's seven out of 11.

Although he boasts two from two in the Champions League, Pogba's four Premier League misses since the start of last season is the most of any player in the competition.

By contrast, Rashford has scored every penalty he has stepped up to take in his junior and senior career.

The England international converted against the Netherlands in the Nations League finals in June before succeeding in a third-place match shoot-out versus Switzerland. Those exploits are sandwiched by nerveless efforts for the Red Devils against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.

Rashford previously scored two penalties for United in the UEFA Youth League and one for England Under-21s.

Martial scored his 50th goal in United colours on Monday and four of those have come from the penalty spot.

In fact, Pogba's compatriot has only missed once for the club from 12 yards, during a 2-0 Champions League win over Benfica in October 2017.

The evidence suggests it is time for United's midfield superstar to pass on the responsibility for good.

Head coach of Jamaica’s U23 team Donovan Duckie has tendered his resignation at the request of the Jamaica Football Federation President Michael Ricketts.

Ousmane Dembele is facing a spell on the sidelines after suffering another hamstring injury, Barcelona have confirmed.

The LaLiga champions expect to be without Dembele for around five weeks.

"A medical examination on Ousmane Dembele has diagnosed a strain of his left hamstring," a club statement read. 

"The Frenchman is set to be out for approximately five weeks as a result."

Dembele, 22, completed 90 minutes as Barca began their title defence with a 1-0 loss at Athletic Bilbao last Friday but has suffered wretched luck with injuries since moving to Camp Nou from Borussia Dortmund in 2017.

The €105million winger sat out most of the first half of his debut campaign in Catalonia due to a serious hamstring injury and this is now the fourth time he has been ruled out by a similar complaint.

Barcelona were without Lionel Messi against Athletic as the superstar forward steps up his recovery form a calf problem, while Dembele's compatriot Antoine Griezmann drew a blank on his Blaugrana debut.

Ernesto Valverde's side entertain Real Betis in the league this weekend.

Former Arsenal and Juventus full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner has signed a one-year contract with Bundesliga side Augsburg.

Lichtsteiner, 35, joined the Gunners following his release by Juve in 2018, but he only spent a single campaign at Emirates Stadium.

He penned an emotional farewell letter to Arsenal fans in June, calling his time there a "great experience" that he "loved".

He joins an Augsburg side that narrowly avoided relegation from the Bundesliga last season and he could make his debut against Union Berlin at the weekend.

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri has been diagnosed with pneumonia, the Serie A champions have confirmed.

Sarri missed Juve's friendly win over Triestina on Saturday due to "the persistence" of flu, which he developed last week.

He returned to the club's training base on Monday but was unable to oversee preparation work on the pitch due to his illness.

The club conducted further examinations and Sarri has now begun a course of treatment.

A statement released by the club on Monday read: "Maurizio Sarri, after having observed rest over the weekend, was at the JTC Continassa [Juve's training facility] today where he coordinated the work of his staff.

"Unfortunately, he could not conduct the training on the field due to the persistence of his flu, which struck him over the course of last week.

"In the late afternoon, he underwent further tests that confirmed he has pneumonia, for which specific therapy has been prescribed.

"The coach has authorised the club to communicate his state of health."

Juve begin their Serie A campaign against Parma on Saturday. It is unclear whether Sarri will be in a position to take charge of the team at Il Tardini.

Mario Balotelli says his mother cried when she found out he was signing for Brescia.

Balotelli, a free agent since leaving Ligue 1 side Marseille, has agreed a multi-year contract with his hometown club.

It marks a return to Italy for the former Inter and AC Milan striker, who has not played in Italy since 2016.

Spells with Nice and Marseille have rebuilt Balotelli's career and he revealed his mother's delight at his latest move.

"At the beginning she was crying. She was very happy," Balotelli told a news conference on Monday.

"My father was from Brescia, he was always in Brescia, for him it would have been a dream to see me here.

"I chose Brescia, I thought of nothing else when I got the offer. Brescia can give me everything, it is the team of my city And I can give more to Brescia than to others."

During his time at AC Milan Balotelli was targeted by racist abuse, which has continued to blight Serie A in recent years.

"I don't know what to expect," he said when asked about racism in Italian football. "I hope things don't happen like in the past."

Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic lead the names nominated for FIFA's Puskas Award, given to the scorer of the best goal of the season.

A panel of FIFA and external football experts selected 10 goals to put to a public vote, with the efforts ranging from the sublime to the outrageous.

Barcelona icon Messi is nominated for the fourth time in five years, while three female players are included after there were none up for the award last year.

All goals selected for consideration were scored between July 16, 2018 and July 19, 2019, and we have the low down on each one, with voting open until September 2…

 

Matheus Cunha (RB Leipzig) v Bayern Leverkusen – April 6, 2019

Brazilian midfield Cunha dazzled the Leverkusen defence in April's 4-2 win as he latched on to a pass in from the left, beat a defender with a pirouette and then found the net with a sumptuous chip.

 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy) v Toronto – September 15, 2018

Ibrahimovic has always been synonymous with the extravagant. His goal in last year's 5-3 defeat to Toronto is up there with his best. The Swedish forward got on the end of Jonathan dos Santos' lofted throughball and, despite initially looking set to take it down on his chest, he spun and guided the ball into the net acrobatically. His penchant for martial arts was immediately noticeable from the finish.

 

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) v Real Betis – March 17, 2019

We have become so accustomed to Messi's brilliance that he makes the extraordinary seem normal, but his hat-trick clincher in March's 4-1 win at Betis was pure genius. After receiving a cut-back from Ivan Rakitic, he caressed a first-time chipped effort over Pau Lopez and in off the crossbar from about 18 yards when shooting through a crowded penalty area looked an impossibility.

 

Ajara Nchout (Cameroon Women) v New Zealand Women – June 20, 2019

Arguably the standout goal of the Women's World Cup was also a vital winner. With Cameroon being held to a 1-1 draw, Nchout – who also got her team's first – embarked on a mazy run, beating her marker twice with sharp turns before guiding a composed finish in to seal a late 2-1 win and book their place in the knockout phase of the competition.

 

Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria) v Napoli – September 2, 2018

Quagliarella went on to have the best season of his career at the ripe old age of 36 last term, scoring 26 times. We should have seen the early signs, as his first of the campaign was a truly special effort. Against his former club Napoli, Quagliarella met Bartosz Bereszynski's right-wing cross with an airborne back-heeled effort from 12 yards that left the goalkeeper helpless.

 

Juan Fernando Quintero (River Plate) v Racing Club – February 10, 2019

A former so-called 'wonderkid' who went off the boil before enjoying a resurgence, Quintero has had a fine couple of years. A playmaker with an eye for the spectacular, his free-kick against Racing in the 2-0 Superliga win in February was quintessential Quintero – from about 35 yards out on the right flank, his left-footed strike bent inside the top-right corner in a remarkable display of accuracy.

 

Amy Rodriguez (Utah Royals) v Sky Blue FC – June 16, 2019

After picking up possession inside her own half, Rodriguez cleverly side-stepped a defender and burst into the attack. She got to the final third and, sensing little support, let fly with a left-footed screamer that nestled in the top-right corner.

Billie Simpson (Cliftonville Ladies) v Sion Swift Ladies – August 9, 2018

A truly ridiculous goal. Straight from the opposing goal-kick, Simpson volleyed it right back in the opposite direction, catching it perfectly with a ferocious volley that caught the goalkeeper completely off guard.

 

Daniel Zsori (Debrecen) v Ferencvaros – February 16, 2019

Eighteen-year-old Zsori announced himself to Hungarian football in astonishing fashion in February. On his league debut, the attacker met a cross from deep with an overhead-kick just inside the area, picking out the top-far corner in stoppage time to secure a 2-1.

Belgium have become a record 10th potential bidder for the 2023 Women's World Cup, FIFA has announced.

The next finals will be expanded to 32 teams for the first time, with an unprecedented 10 member associations now officially considering staging the tournament.

Interest in hosting had already been confirmed by Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa, while there is also a joint bid from South Korea and North Korea on the table.

The deadline to join the bidding process was pushed back after FIFA confirmed an increase in teams taking part from 24 to 32.

Member associations now have until September 2 to inform FIFA if they wish to be entered into the bidding process.

After that deadline, interested parties have three months to put together bid books, with May 2020 set as the expected date of the final announcement.

The United States won the 2019 tournament in France, beating Netherlands in the final to defend their title.

China, Canada, Germany, Sweden and USA are the other countries to have acted as Women's World Cup hosts.

Mauro Icardi will not be joining Monaco, the Inter striker's wife and agent Wanda Nara has insisted.

Argentina international Icardi has been linked with a switch to the Ligue 1 side after being told he can leave San Siro.

The Inter captaincy was taken off the player last term and he appears to have no future at the club under coach Antonio Conte.

Nara, however, has ruled out a Monaco move before the French and Italian transfer windows close on September 2.

"He will not go to Monaco," Nara said simply to TyC Sports.

Monaco are reportedly seeking a successor to Radamel Falcao, who has been linked with Galatasaray.

Free agent Daniel Sturridge, who left Liverpool at the end of his contract, is reportedly a target for Leonardo Jardim's side.

Bayern Munich asked retired Arjen Robben for permission before giving new signing Philippe Coutinho his old No.10 shirt and club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge believes the Brazilian is a worthy successor.

After a difficult 18-month spell with Barcelona, Coutinho completed a season-long loan move to Bayern on Monday, with the German champions able to make the switch permanent for €120million.

Bayern have been undertaking something of a rebuild in recent months, with various older players being moved on or retiring.

Chief among those are Franck Ribery and Robben, with the latter opting to hang up his boots after a 10-year spell at the club that saw him win 20 trophies.

Given their respective contributions to Bayern, Rummenigge confirmed they intended to leave the No.7 and No.10 jerseys unoccupied, but Robben gave permission for Coutinho to take his.

When asked about where Coutinho will play, Rummenigge told a news conference: "Hasan [Salihamidzic, sporting director] and Niko [Kovac, coach] have already agreed on all the tactical variants, and Hasan had a talk with Arjen Robben this morning.

"We did not want to give his number away for the time being, as a special gesture, but we also wanted to show how important and valuable this is.

"It was also a very important sign for Philippe that the club is also fully behind him, so Arjen has no problem at all, he wishes him all the best, and he is a more than worthy successor."

Coutinho could make his Bayern debut on Saturday when they travel to Gelsenkirchen to face Schalke in the Bundesliga.

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