Barcelona have confirmed Antoine Griezmann will wear the number 17, rather than taking the number seven shirt from Philippe Coutinho.

It had been reported Griezmann could retain the number he wore during his time at Atletico Madrid after sealing a long-awaited move to Camp Nou.

But ahead of his first news conference as a Barca player on Sunday, the LaLiga champions revealed Griezmann - who also wears seven for France - will instead be given the number 17.

Coutinho is reportedly surplus to requirements at Barca as a result of the Griezmann deal, with suggestions he could be used as a makeweight in a move for Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar.

Kia Joorabchian, Coutinho's representative, told RMC Sport that Barca adviser Andre Cury is pushing for Coutinho to be sent to PSG as part of Neymar's potential return.

The future of James Rodriguez has dominated headlines this off-season.

Napoli have been tipped to sign James after Bayern Munich opted not to take up their permanent option to sign the Real Madrid midfielder.

However, James could be set to remain in the Spanish capital.

 

TOP STORY – ATLETICO SET FOR SHOCK SWOOP

Atletico Madrid are close to completing the signing of James Rodriguez from LaLiga rivals Real Madrid, according to Marca.

Napoli have been favourites to lure James to Italy, with the Serie A side keen to reunite the Colombia star and head coach Carlo Ancelotti.

However, negotiations have dragged on and James – who spent the past two seasons on loan at Bayern Munich – is reportedly keen to make the switch across town.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to le10sport, Barcelona have offered Philippe Coutinho in a straight swap for Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar. LaLiga champions Barca reportedly do not have money to spend after paying Antoine Griezmann's release clause.

- Sky Sports reports Arsenal have made an improved £25million offer for Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney. Meanwhile, BBC Sport claims the Gunners have not submitted a bid for Lille forward Nicolas Pepe as they cannot afford the €80m-rated star.

- Harry Maguire has told Leicester City he wants to leave amid growing speculation he will join Manchester United, says the Daily Mail.

- According to the Daily Mail, Bayern Munich have not given up on signing Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi. The Bundesliga champions are reportedly set to make a £45million offer. Bayern are also interested in Tottenham right-back Kieran Trippier, Sky Sports understands.

Juventus goalkeeper Mattia Perin is close to moving to Portuguese champions Benfica, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. Perin is looking for regular football following Gianluigi Buffon's return to Turin, where Wojciech Szczesny is the number one.

- The Mirror says Liverpool have joined Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in the race to sign CSKA Moscow striker Fedor Chalov.

Juventus could use Moise Kean in a deal to sign Inter outcast Mauro Icardi, according to FCInterNews.it. Rai Sport has also claimed Juve could take Icardi on loan with an option to buy for €40million.

Philippe Coutinho's agent has accused Barcelona of lying about wanting to keep the forward and says the LaLiga champions are surreptitiously seeking to package him in a deal for Neymar.

Kia Joorabchian, Coutinho's representative, claims Barca officials Pep Segura and Josep Maria Bartomeu have given private assurances the Brazilian remains required at Camp Nou.

However, Joorabchian claims the club's promises have not been consistent with their actions, and believes his client has been shown a lack of respect.

He feels Coutinho, who has struggled to make an impact in two seasons at Barca, is being used as a makeweight in the pursuit of Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar, who is unsettled in the French capital.

"The president [Bartomeu] was clear: he had no intention of selling the player, to any club," Joorabchian told RMC Sport.

"With that, and out of respect for Barcelona's decision to keep him, we chose not to look at the market for our player and we have not offered the player to other clubs.

"But I learned, and it's a fact, that [Barca adviser] Andre Cury is saying totally different things. Andre Cury is pushing for Coutinho to be included in the transfer for Neymar.

"As I said, Coutinho has no offer from any other clubs because we respected Barcelona's decision, but they do not respect the word they gave to us.

"We have been silent in this period, but it will not be allowed for Barcelona to lie about the player. They must tell the truth!

"And if they want Coutinho to leave, they have to say it. With the player, we will decide what is best for his future."

Coutinho will face fresh competition for a starting spot if he remains at Barca following the club's capture of Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid on Friday.

Liverpool could offer an escape route as they reportedly consider bringing the 27-year-old back to Anfield, where he was jeered during the Champions League semi-finals in May.

"Liverpool lies very deeply in his heart," Joorabchian told Sky Sports. "He's a big fan of them. It would be very difficult for him to go to a direct competitor of Liverpool."

Paul Pogba's future at Manchester United seems to be getting messy and Juventus have no interest in being involved.

Linked with Real Madrid, Pogba, 26, wants to leave Old Trafford in the close season, according to his agent.

But United will demand plenty for the France international and his former club Juve are no longer in the race.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UNITED RAISE POGBA PRICE AS JUVE GIVE UP

Manchester United are now asking for €200.5million (£180m) for Pogba, according to the Mirror and The Sun.

The reports say the Premier League giants were angered by Pogba's agent Mino Raiola expressing his client's desire to leave.

Pogba arrived at United for £89m in 2016 and the club's latest asking price is more than double that.

But there will be no Turin return for Pogba, with the Daily Mail saying Juventus have ended their interest, opening the door for Real Madrid.

ROUND-UP

- One player set to head to the Serie A champions is Matthijs de Ligt. De Telegraaf report Juventus and Ajax have reached an agreement of €70m plus variables for the star centre-back.

- Barcelona seem to be making some progress in their pursuit of Neymar. According to Bild, Barca will offer up a list of four players to Paris Saint-Germain, who would agree to sign three and accept a fee in the region of €130m. Reports suggest the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti and Nelson Semedo are expendable at Camp Nou.

- Inter's chase of Romelu Lukaku has appeared difficult and there are few signs of that changing any time soon. Manchester United want more than €83.5m (£75m) – what they paid for the striker in 2017 – for the Belgium international, according to BBC Sport, leading to suggestions Lukaku is set to stay at Old Trafford.

- Manchester United reportedly want Sporting CP midfielder Bruno Fernandes, but A Bola report the Premier League giants first want to sign a centre-back, having been linked with the likes of Leicester City defender Harry Maguire. The Sun say United are also targeting Benfica and Portugal centre-back Ruben Dias.

- Hakim Ziyech impressed for Ajax last season, but not quite enough to earn a move to Arsenal. According to BBC Sport, the Premier League club have ended their interest in the attacker.

- West Ham are searching for a replacement for Marko Arnautovic after the forward's move to China. The Guardian say West Ham have held talks with Eintracht Frankfurt over Sebastien Haller, who is valued at around £40m (€44.6m) and is also a reported target for Manchester United.

Antoine Griezmann's €120million switch from Atletico Madrid is every inch the modern Barcelona blockbuster transfer – something that does the player and the club no credit at all.

A week ago, like clockwork, Atleti's statement arrived, expressing "the strongest disapproval of the behaviour of both [parties], especially FC Barcelona" as they accused LaLiga's champions of reaching terms with their most-prized forward in March.

The next part of the dance followed last Sunday, when Griezmann somewhat inevitably failed to turn up for training with Atletico. His no-show was very much in keeping with that of fellow France international Ousmane Dembele, who was suspended for going AWOL at Borussia Dortmund before joining Barca for €105m in August 2017.

During the same month, Philippe Coutinho was out of action with Liverpool, purportedly due to a back problem that did not prevent him from playing for Brazil at the start of the following September. It came to look more like a crude attempt to force the €160m move to Barcelona that arrived in January 2018.

Like Dembele and Coutinho, Griezmann is in part Barcelona's latest attempt to fill the void left by Neymar – an endeavour so fruitless the club appear to have concluded there is only one effective remedy.

The Brazilian superstar is reportedly ready to cut his reputational losses at Paris Saint-Germain and return to Catalonia. Of course, he didn't turn up for training this week.

Neymar's earth-shaking exit to PSG two years ago has not only defined who Barcelona's targets must be, but also how they must be sought. If Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board felt bullied by the Ligue 1 giants brazenly meeting the forward's €222m release clause, their response has been to become the biggest bullies in the playground.

Perhaps it is a coincidence that Barcelona's three most-expensive signings in their history have all effectively gone on strike to engineer a move, but there is a point at which it starts to look like an established plank of transfer policy and a grubby one at that.

It certainly jars with Barca's 'Mes que un club' ideals and its inference of some sort of higher moral standard. In fact, the present direction of travel is more in tune with peak-Galacticos era Real Madrid.

Of course, all transfer manoeuvrings stand and fall by results on the field. Over the past two seasons, form and fitness respectively have contributed towards Dembele and Coutinho failing. It mattered little in LaLiga, where Ernesto Valverde's cool-headed pragmatism brought back-to-back titles.

But in the Champions League there have been collapses of crushing humiliation at Roma and Liverpool. Griezmann's job will be to guide Lionel Messi to a fifth title in Europe's premier competition when the waters become choppy, many of his new team-mates having shown themselves to be incapable of manning the life rafts.

A starring role in France's 2018 World Cup triumph, having steered Atleti to Europa League glory in the same year, displayed he undoubtedly has the pedigree to do so. An effortlessly stylish footballer, Griezmann's inner steel harnessed in his years under Diego Simeone also should not be underestimated. He should lift a Barca that downed tools at the Stadio Olimpico and Anfield.

On the other hand, the 28-year-old's fondness for starring in his own documentaries hints at a soon-to-be untamed ego that could come into conflict with Valverde, establishing further common ground with Dembele alongside playing Fortnite and setting your own training schedule.

It will be fascinating to see how Griezmann's move to Camp Nou plays out and football to dazzle and delight will follow if things click. If they don't, the conduct of player and club mean plenty will be ready to delight in the failure.

After what feels like years of flirting and transfer speculation, Antoine Griezmann is finally a Barcelona player and it is a move that could ruffle a few feathers at Camp Nou.

Griezmann's arrival comes 13 months after the France star committed his future to Atletico in a documentary, rebuffing Barca and signing a new five-year contract at the time.

But, with Atletico's season fading away in May, Griezmann and the Madrid club published a video to Twitter in which the forward confirmed his desire to leave.

Barca's failure in the Champions League and Copa del Rey was proof of a need for Ernesto Valverde's squad to be improved and there can be little doubt his arrival achieves that.

However, there are reasons for trepidation for several of Griezmann's new team-mates, as we have examined…

 

Philippe Coutinho

Despite a promising start, it is fair to say Coutinho's time at Camp Nou has not gone to plan since joining from Liverpool for a reported €160m in January 2018. The Brazil international has failed to nail down a regular spot in midfield or attack, starting only 22 league games in 2018-19, often filling in either role with minimal success to make him a frequent target for jeers. If Barca see Coutinho as more of a forward, there may not be space for him with Griezmann's arrival, with first-team opportunities likely to be even trickier to come by. Linked with a move, the former Liverpool star would not be short of suitors, particularly in England.

Ousmane Dembele

Like Coutinho, Dembele was brought in as part of the post-Neymar splurge. While the winger is undoubtedly talented and has shown flashes of his potential, his Barca career has been interrupted by injuries and reports of immaturity. Few can argue Griezmann is not a model professional, even if his behaviour over the past year or so has angered Atleti and his new employers. Perhaps, as an international team-mate and fellow World Cup-winner, Griezmann might just be the influence Dembele, whose move could eventually be worth €145m, needs to find his best.

Luis Suarez

In the opening months of last season Suarez showed signs of decline, as he endured a couple of uncharacteristic droughts. Thankfully for Barca he recovered and has managed to score 21 goals in LaLiga, though his form in the Champions League remains a concern, the Uruguayan netting just five times in his past 29 games in the competition.

While there is no suggestion Griezmann is set to replace Suarez, the fact the Frenchman could fill in for him and allow him more rest can only be a good thing, particularly with the former Ajax star now 32 years old. However, for the two to co-exist, they may need to bury the hatchet, with Suarez unimpressed by Griezmann's efforts to show respect to Uruguay - a country he professes to love - after his goal against them for France at the World Cup.

 

Lionel Messi

The main man, the superstar and the one who makes everything tick. None of that will change if Griezmann arrives. Messi was inspirational again last season, scoring 36 times in 34 LaLiga games. He was used a little more sparingly and Griezmann's potential arrival could allow him more rest, but the Argentine's status as top dog will certainly remain either way. Nevertheless, another superstar forward might just alleviate some of the goal-scoring burden.

Malcom

A transfer that promised much has yielded little. Brazilian winger Malcom is almost certain to leave Barca over the next month or so, and his departure will surely be hastened now a deal for Griezmann has been struck. A gifted player that Barca pipped Roma to at the last minute in July 2018, it has been pretty clear from the outset that he does not have Valverde's faith. Links with Sevilla soon vanished after Monchi - the scorned sporting director of the Giallorossi last year - returned to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, though he will likely have plenty of options should the Catalan decide to offload him.

Real Madrid refuse to give up on a move for Paul Pogba - and Gareth Bale could be the key to getting a deal done.

Pogba, 26, has been linked with a Manchester United exit, having said last month it could be time for a "new challenge" three years after returning to Old Trafford.

Madrid's rebuild is well and truly under way with Zinedine Zidane and, linked with a midfielder, the LaLiga giants are continuing to chase Pogba.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID RETAIN POGBA HOPE

According to AS, Real Madrid have not given up on signing Pogba.

The report says Manchester United have so far refused to negotiate a deal for the France midfielder, but Madrid are still pursuing the World Cup winner.

Bale could be part of a potential deal, however, with Madrid willing to offer United the attacker, according to Marca.

However, Bale has told Madrid he wants to see out the rest of his contract, which runs until 2022, at the Santiago Bernabeu, per AS.

ROUND-UP

- Antoine Griezmann's expected move from Atletico Madrid to Barcelona is happening. L'Equipe report Griezmann will make a €120million switch, with Marca saying Barca are preparing to present the France forward next week.

- With Griezmann's arrival, and potentially that of Neymar too, there are expected to be departures from Camp Nou. Sport report Philippe Coutinho has agreed terms with Paris Saint-Germain in the first piece of the puzzle that will lead to Neymar's return to Barcelona. Sport also say Barca are prepared to listen to offers of at least €50m for defender Samuel Umtiti.

- Harry Maguire appears set for Manchester, but which half remains to be seen. The Sun report Manchester United had a £70m bid for the defender rejected by Leicester City, while Manchester City are also willing to bid that much. Maguire has reportedly told Leicester he wants to leave and, unsurprisingly, Arsenal are looking to land the centre-back on the cheap, prepared to offer £50m, according to The Sun.

- Alexandre Lacazette could be on his way out of Emirates Stadium. The Arsenal forward is a target for Barcelona, according to Yahoo Sport FR, while the Mirror link Lacazette with Atletico Madrid.

- Having fallen down the pecking order at Anfield, Dejan Lovren could be set for a close-season exit. La Gazzetta dello Sport say Lovren's agent has held talks with AC Milan, with Liverpool apparently wanting €27.9m (£25m) for the centre-back.

- Marko Arnautovic is again linked with a move to China. The West Ham forward has lodged a transfer request after a £19.7m bid from Shanghai SIPG, according to the Mirror, just months after opting against a move to the Chinese Super League.

- After Rafael Benitez left for Dalian Yifang in the Chinese Super League, Newcastle United have made Belgium boss Roberto Martinez their top target, per The Sun. Martinez has managed in the Premier League with Everton and Wigan Athletic, but Pep Guardiola's assistant at Manchester City, Mikel Arteta, also continues to be linked to the vacancy.

Philippe Coutinho scored a brace as Brazil opened the Copa America with a 3-0 win over Bolivia in Sao Paulo.

After an underwhelming first half at Estadio do Morumbi, Coutinho scored twice within eight minutes of the restart to put Brazil in control on Friday.

A VAR check and handball led Coutinho to the penalty spot and the Barcelona star made no mistake in the 50th minute before making it 2-0 three minutes later after capping a sweeping move.

Everton came off the bench and scored the goal of the night with a blistering effort from outside the area in the 84th minute as the Selecao – who have won the Copa on each of the previous four occasions they have hosted in 1919, 1922, 1949 and 1989 – made a winning start in Group A.

Playing without superstar Neymar after he was ruled out of the tournament with an ankle injury, 2018 World Cup quarter-finalists Brazil dominated but struggled to create any real clear-cut chances.

Thiago Silva saw a header flash wide of the post and Casemiro came close with an audacious effort for Brazil, who had 77 per cent of the possession in the opening 45 minutes.

The half-time whistle was met by a chorus of boos around the stadium amid a subdued atmosphere as Brazil failed to impress against Bolivia – a nation in which they had won nine and drawn two of the past 11 games on home soil, scoring 46 goals and conceding just four times.

But a VAR check helped ease some of the tension and pressure with the ground after Adrian Jusino was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the penalty area.

Coutinho successfully converted the spot-kick before he completed a quick-fire double after latching on to Roberto Firmino's cross at the back post.

The result was never in doubt from that point as Brazil turned the boos into cheers in the south-west of Sao Paulo, where substitute Everton scored a stunning long-range goal with six minutes remaining.

 

What does it mean? Brazil up and running with 100th win

Seeking a ninth Copa title and first since 2007, Tite's Brazil got the job done in Friday's curtain-raiser. It was not perfect but the Selecao managed to claim their 100th Copa victory.

Coutinho takes centre stage

The Barcelona attacker struggled at Camp Nou in 2018-19, leading to speculation of a possible return to the Premier League via Chelsea or Manchester United. Coutinho, however, stepped up when Brazil needed him most with his first international brace since scoring a hat-trick against Haiti at the Copa America Centenario.

Improvement needed by Brazil

If the half-time boos were any indication, Brazil did not meet expectations prior to the break. Richarlison and Roberto Firmino were virtually non-existent in the first half, while Coutinho and David Neres struggled to make an impact. The Selecao did beat Bolivia but they will be punished against better opposition if they do not improve.

What's next?

Brazil will look to make it two wins from two against Venezuela on Tuesday, while Bolivia face Peru on the same day.

Ivan Rakitic scored a wonderful volley and Lionel Messi struck twice to inspire Barcelona to a thrilling 4-2 win at Tottenham in the Champions League. 

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