Neymar has hit back at Thomas Meunier after his former team-mate suggested the Brazil international has "lost his magic" at Paris Saint-Germain.

Meunier, who spent three seasons with Neymar at PSG prior to joining Borussia Dortmund in 2020, made his comment in an interview with German outlet Kicker this week.

"I have to admit that I was a big fan of Neymar when he was still playing at Barcelona," Meunier said. "In Paris, however, he lost his magic, from my point of view."

Neymar is approaching his five-year anniversary at PSG and remains the world's most expensive player following his €222million switch from Barcelona in August 2017.

The 30-year-old has made 144 appearances for the Parisians and won 11 trophies, though tellingly he has yet to lift the Champions League with the Ligue 1 giants.

And the former Barcelona star has not taken kindly to Meunier's criticism, which he responded to on social media on Tuesday.

Commenting on a post showing Meunier's remark on Instagram, Neymar responded "this boy talks too much", accompanied by a laughing emoji.

 

Neymar has scored exactly 100 goals for PSG in all competitions, which is 71 fewer than team-mate Kylian Mbappe has managed in the same number of seasons.

The Santos youth product scored 19 league goals in his maiden campaign with the Parisians but has since failed to manage more than 15 in any of the four seasons since.

Bordeaux have been cleared to remain in Ligue 2 just three days before they are due to start the season.

The club were facing the prospect of dropping into the third tier of French football due to financial irregularities.

Les Girondins were relegated after finishing bottom of Ligue 1 last season and were last month told they would be in the Championnat National for the 2022-23 campaign following a DNCG (National Directorate of Management Control) investigation of their finances.

The six-time champions of France, who reportedly have debts close to €40million, immediately announced their intention to appeal, but the French Football Federation (FFF) confirmed their sanctions will stand this month.

There was good news for Bordeaux on Wednesday, though, when they discovered they will not face a further demotion after demonstrating the "current and future financial robustness" of the club.

A statement on the club's official website said: "Today, the executive committee of the French Football Federation (FFF) held a special meeting to approve the recommendations of the National Olympic and Sporting Committee (CNOSF) issued on 25 July, thus definitively confirming that FC Girondins de Bordeaux will be able to play in Ligue 2 this season.

"Following the lead of the Commercial Court and the CNOSF, the FFF has now formally acknowledged the current and future financial robustness of our club, and the fact that we are more than adequately prepared to play in Ligue 2 this season, in full compliance with the relevant sporting regulations."

Bordeaux are scheduled to face Valenciennes in their first game of the Ligue 2 on Saturday, but it remains to be seen if the fixture will go ahead.

The tense Frenkie de Jong transfer saga continues with uncertainty on his Barcelona future.

The 25-year-old Dutchman has two years to run on his Barcelona contract, having postponed part of his deal during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

De Jong is unwilling to accept another pay cut to remain at Camp Nou, though, amid the club's hefty off-season transfer spending.

 

TOP STORY – DE JONG DECISION OVER ENGLISH SUITORS

Decisions will be made on Frenkie de Jong's future at Barcelona after their United States tour, with interest from Chelsea alongside Manchester United, reports Sport.

De Jong is reluctant to leave Camp Nou, particularly for a move to Old Trafford, despite ending last season out of favour.

However, the Dutchman is more open to Chelsea's advances, but the Blues are unwilling to pay as much as United, leaving the Blaugrana in a bind.

 

ROUND-UP

– Leicester City have placed a £70million asking price on Wesley Fofana, who is being courted by Chelsea, reports CBS Sports.

Newcastle United are considering a move for Chelsea's Germany international forward Timo Werner, claims Bild. Juventus are also interested in Werner according to Sky Sports.

– Fabrizio Romano reports that ex-Chelsea midfielder Oscar is pushing for a move from Shanghai SIPG to Flamengo, with talks ongoing.

– L'Equipe believes that Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has agreed to a deal with Ligue 1 club Nice, although Leicester City are yet to approve the move.

– Arsenal and Fulham are in talks over an £8m deal for goalkeeper Bernd Leno, claims Sky Sports.

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho is trying to woo Manchester United defender Eric Bailly to the Italian capital, reports The Daily Mail.

Paris Saint-Germain confirmed the signing of RB Leipzig defender Nordi Mukiele on Tuesday as coach Christophe Galtier continued to shape his side.

Mukiele appeared destined to become a PSG player when Leipzig announced he had been granted absence from their squad for the DFL-Supercup due to ongoing transfer negotiations on Monday.

Despite reports of late interest from Chelsea, PSG sealed the acquisition of the 24-year-old and will reportedly pay an initial €12million fee, which could reach a total of €16million with add-ons included.

Mukiele has signed a five-year deal at the Parc des Princes, becoming the third new arrival of the transfer window after midfielder Vitinha and striker Hugo Ekitike, while left-back Nuno Mendes made his loan from Sporting CP permanent.

Speaking to PSG's website, Mukiele said: "When I found out that Paris were interested in me and that they wanted me to come here, I had to think about it because it's very important.

"It's a very big step in my career, it's not a choice to be taken lightly. But I think and I'm sure I made the right choice."

Mukiele made 28 appearances – 21 of them starts – as Leipzig finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season, contributing to the side matching Bayern Munich as the competition's best defensive side.

No Bundesliga team conceded fewer than their 37 goals across the 2021-22 campaign, while only Bayern and Wolfsburg (both 11) bettered their tally of 10 clean sheets.

PSG won three out of three fixtures during a pre-season tour of Japan, though Galtier expressed frustration with their defending after Monday's 6-2 rout of Gamba Osaka.

Mukiele, who is capable of playing at full-back and centre-back, is expected to challenge for a spot in a three-man backline next season.

Bayern Munich have confirmed the capture of Rennes teenager Mathys Tel, with the highly rated forward joining on a five-year deal in a €20million-plus move.

The 17-year-old will link up with the Bundesliga champions on a contract through to 2027 after showing glimpses of his potential in Ligue 1 last season.

Tel skippered the France Under-17 team to glory in the European Under-17 Championship final last month, and he has now been rewarded with a bumper switch to one of the continent's biggest clubs.

"Bayern are one of the best teams in the world," the forward said. "I'm very much looking forward to this great challenge and I will give my all for this club.

"I've been very impressed with the discussions with Hasan Salihamidzic and the Bayern management, and I quickly realised I definitely wanted to come to Munich."

Bayern sporting director Salihamidzic said: "Mathys Tel is one of the biggest talents in Europe. We've been watching him for a long time and we were able to convince him to take his next important steps in Munich with us now.

"The development of such an exceptional young player is an exciting project for us all. We are all convinced he has a great career in front of him and that he will help our team."

Tel made 10 senior appearances for Rennes last term and is the second player to depart the French outfit in a big-money deal during the close season, following Nayef Aguerd's move to West Ham.

He takes the number 39 shirt, with the number nine still vacant after Robert Lewandowski's departure to Barcelona.

Youngster Tel is reported to have cost Bayern an initial €20million, with a further €8.5million in add-ons tied into the deal.

Neymar has "lost his magic" after spending five seasons with Paris Saint-Germain, according to former team-mate Thomas Meunier.

Brazil international Neymar remains the world's most expensive player following his €222million switch from Barcelona to the French capital in August 2017.

The 30-year-old has made 144 appearances for PSG and won 11 trophies, though tellingly he has yet to lift the Champions League with the Ligue 1 giants.

Neymar signed a new four-year deal last year, but the former Barcelona star has been liked with the Parc des Princes exit following the arrival of head coach Christophe Galtier.

And ex-PSG defender Meunier, who spent four years at PSG before leaving for Borussia Dortmund in 2020, believes Neymar's career has stagnated.

"I have to admit that I was a big fan of Neymar when he was still playing at Barcelona. In Paris, however, he lost his magic, from my point of view," Meunier told Kicker.

"The comeback is all about him. If I was 10, I would have had his poster in my room."

Neymar has scored exactly 100 goals for PSG in all competitions, which is 71 fewer than Mbappe has managed in the same number of seasons.

The Santos youth product scored 19 league goals in his maiden campaign with the Parisians, but has since failed to manage more than 15 in any of the four seasons since.

 

Belgium international Meunier himself endured a difficult time of things at PSG, which he has put down to a combination of factors both on and off the field.

"In Paris, I was sidelined by the then sports director [Leonardo] because I didn't want to extend my contract," he said.

"Privately, it wasn't easy to leave Paris, either. My wife, my children and myself, we all loved the city. It was hard to give up. But over time we managed to adapt as a family."

Xavi acknowledged a Barcelona return for Lionel Messi is "impossible" at present but refused to rule out a reunion in future, as he rejected comparisons between himself and two legendary Blaugrana coaches.

Messi's 21-year association with Barcelona came to an end last August when he joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer amid the Catalan club's financial woes.

However, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner's six league goals during his debut campaign in Paris represented his worst such tally since he netted the same amount in LaLiga as an 18-year-old in 2005-06.

Messi has just one year remaining on his contract in the French capital – though an option exists for a further 12 months with PSG – and Barcelona president Joan Laporta said on Sunday he did not believe the Argentine's Barca story was over.

His former team-mate and current Barcelona coach Xavi, however, told a news conference such a move was unfeasible, at least for now. 

"He has a contract and it's impossible right now," Xavi said, looking ahead to Barca's friendly with Juventus in Dallas on Tuesday.

"Messi is the best footballer in the world and in history. President Laporta already said that Messi's story with Barca is not over, but now is not the time to talk about it."

 

On a personal level, Xavi has enjoyed success since returning to Barcelona as head coach last November, leading the side to a second-placed league finish after they had languished in ninth under predecessor Ronald Koeman.

Barca are now expected to challenge for silverware after acquiring the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha, but Xavi insists he does not seek comparisons with legendary Blaugrana bosses Pep Guardiola and Johan Cruyff. 

"I don't have the idea of equalling Pep, what I want is for Barca to win," he added.

"It's not a question of ego, I don't want to beat Pep or Johan or anyone. On the contrary, I have nurtured myself from them, I am a student of theirs. 

"My dream is to return Barca to the top of the world."

Despite their perilous financial situation, Barcelona have recruited heavily throughout the transfer window, and with Sevilla and France defender Jules Kounde reportedly also close to joining, their spending does not look likely to stop any time soon.

And Xavi believes the capture of Lewandowski demonstrates the lure of the Catalan giants, adding: "It's not for me, it's for the club. What I do is speak clearly with the players. 

"Everything adds up, but I would say that the club is the one that has strength, its greatness is a magnet for footballers. 

"People are excited to play at Barca, the fact that players of the stature of Lewandowski want to come proves it."

Newcastle United are planning a move for out-of-favour Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Julian Draxler, with the Germany international's price tag believed to be in the range of £25million (€29.5m).

Draxler, 28, has spent the past six seasons with the French giants, but his last campaign was mostly from a bench role, with 13 of his 18 Ligue 1 appearances coming as a substitute.

He also had two separate injuries that forced him to miss over a month each time, but with 58 senior caps for Germany and a World Cup right around the corner, he could be a savvy purchase for a club desperate for a marquee signing.

 

TOP STORY – NEWCASTLE ENQUIRE ABOUT VERY AVAILABLE DRAXLER

According to French publication Le 10 Sport, Draxler is on Paris Saint-Germain director of football Luis Campos' "blacklist" of players who have no future at the club.

The report says he has been asked to find a way out, and with a relatively low price tag – around half the £40m demanded by Lyon in Newcastle's reported pursuit of Lucas Paqueta – the stars could be aligning for the Magpies to land an established international on a cheaper deal.

Draxler was left out of PSG's pre-season squad for the recent tour of Japan, indicating he already has one foot out the door, but it remains to be seen if Newcastle will be his landing spot.

ROUND-UP

Chelsea are reportedly willing to part ways with Timo Werner, with Foot Mercato claiming the forward was included in an offer to former club RB Leipzig  in exchange for defender Nordi Mukiele, who appears to be PSG-bound.

– Sport believes Chelsea will block Barcelona moves for Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso due to the Spanish club's chase of Blues target Jules Kounde.

– The Guardian is reporting that Gianluca Scamacca will have his medical this week before confirming a £35.5m move from Sassuolo to West Ham.

– According to Calciomercato, Milan have increased their bid for Club Brugge midfielder Charles de Ketelaere to €32m, and are also trying to secure a move for Chelsea's Hakim Ziyech.

Barcelona have told Memphis Depay to find a new club after Robert Lewandowski's arrival, according to AS.

Nordi Mukiele has thanked RB Leipzig in a social media post as he closes in on a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

The versatile defender joined Leipzig in 2018 from Montpellier, and made 80 Bundesliga appearances for them over a four-year period.

Mukiele is now set to join PSG, with the 24-year-old's move expected to go through in the coming days. The deal is reportedly worth up to €16million.

On Monday, the 24-year-old posted a video to his Instagram account, accompanied by a farewell message to Leipzig.

The post said: "I wanted to thank you for everything you have done for me. You made me feel [at] home since the very first day I arrived and it is with [a] heavy heart that I leave today.

"I want to thank everyone involved at the club that help us reach our goals on a daily basis. To my brothers on the field, let's keep this legacy alive.

"To the coaches and staff I've had during these four seasons: THANK YOU. With you, I've discovered the highest levels of football.

"Today I'm a better player but also a better human being and I've been able to achieve some of my personal dreams also thanks to you."

PSG have also been linked with a move for Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier hinted further arrivals are imminent after his side wrapped up their pre-season tour of Japan by thrashing Gamba Osaka 6-2.

Meanwhile, despite star trio Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar all netting during Monday's rout, Galtier was frustrated by his team's defending, insisting they must improve after conceding "two goals too many".

With Messi starting alongside Neymar and Pablo Sarabia in a 3-4-3 shape, PSG eased to a 4-1 half-time lead as each of the front three joined Nuno Mendes on the scoresheet.

Neymar grabbed his second after the break before Mbappe came on to convert a late penalty, ensuring PSG finished their tour of Japan with three wins from three outings.

Having already signed creative midfielder Vitinha, PSG are expected to carry out further recruitment ahead of their Ligue 1 campaign starting on August 6. 

It was revealed on Monday that RB Leipzig's Nordi Mukiele would miss the German team's DFL-Supercup meeting with Bayern Munich while he finalises a move to Paris, and Galtier is hoping for more new arrivals to follow the defender.

"The club is working to improve and make this squad stronger," he told a post-match news conference.

"We're going to fly, we're going to take a long 12-hour journey, we're going to sleep and when we land we might have one or two, even three more players… We'll see what happens this week."

PSG produced a scintillating attacking performance in their final pre-season outing, only slightly outperforming their 5.65 expected goals (xG) and recording 17 attempts on target, but Galtier was left unimpressed by their two concessions.

Galtier coached Nice to Ligue 1's joint-best defensive record last term (36 goals conceded, level with PSG), while his title-winning Lille side of 2020-21 conceded only 23 goals and kept a league-high 21 clean sheets.

Having built a reputation for his strong defensive organisation, Galtier stressed PSG must improve off the ball.

"I'm happy with the first half, the second we were tired. We conceded two goals, two goals too many," Galtier added. "Even if we have a big goal difference, I would like us to be hard to beat. It's a major line of work.

"Annoyed? That's not the term. On the second goal, we have to be more structured and not disorderly. We weren't in the right timing, we couldn't manage to get back on track. This is an important line of work, we have to show a tougher face for future matches.

"[But] even if we don't want to concede too many chances and concede goals, my players' DNA is to play, take risks and attack as much as possible. We're not going to change that."

Nordi Mukiele has been left out of RB Leipzig's squad for their DFL-Supercup clash against Bayern Munich on Saturday, with the defender in talks over a move to Paris Saint-Germain. 

PSG are in the market for defensive reinforcements after struggling to mount a serious challenge for the Champions League last season, with new boss Christophe Galtier keen to employ a three-man defence at the Parc des Princes.

Inter's Milan Skriniar was initially linked with the French giants, but versatile Leipzig star Mukiele appears close to becoming the first new defender through the door in Paris this window.

With reports suggesting one-cap France international Mukiele is on the verge of agreeing a five-year contract with PSG, his current club revealed he will not be available for their season curtain-raiser.

On Monday, the club announced on Twitter that the defender "has been granted absence due to ongoing contract discussions".

Mukiele made 28 appearances, 21 of them starts, as Leipzig finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season.

No German top-flight team conceded fewer than their 37 goals across the 2021-22 campaign, while only Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg (both 11) bettered their tally of 10 clean sheets.

Despite winning LaLiga and the Champions League last season, Real Madrid want to secure a bright future to follow their trophy-laden present.

Having confirmed the signings of Aurelien Tchouameni and Antonio Rudiger this off-season, Madrid managed to bolster their squad in two areas of the pitch.

Meanwhile, they are on the verge of securing the long-term futures of three foundational pieces in those successes last term.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID TO SECURE BRAZILIAN TRIO

Real Madrid are all but set to confirm renewed contracts for their Brazilian trio of Eder Militao, Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Despite tricky initiations for each, all three have now established themselves as vital players under Carlo Ancelotti, as evidenced by their new release clauses.

Militao and Rodrygo have reportedly extended to June 2028, with respective €500million and €1billion release clauses.

After a breakout season, culminating with his goal in May's Champions League final, Vinicius will reportedly extend to June 2027, along with a €1bn release clause.

 

ROUND-UP

– Manchester United are now considering a move for Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic as an alternative to Frenkie de Jong, Calciomercato is reporting.

– Juventus have made a €23m (£19.5m) move for Liverpool's Roberto Firmino as they finalise the termination of Aaron Ramsey's contract, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

Jules Kounde's departure from Sevilla appears likelier with the defender close to agreeing personal terms with Barcelona, per Fabrizio Romano.

– Arsenal have confirmed their interest in Lucas Paqueta but are yet to make Lyon an offer, The Times has reported.

French hot prospect Mathys Tel is expected to clinch a dream move to Bayern Munich after announcing he is leaving Rennes.

The 17-year-old has only made 10 competitive first-team appearances for Rennes, all as a substitute, but he is so highly rated that Bayern marked him out as a priority target.

That move now looks set to come to fruition after the France Under-18 international said his farewells to the Brittany club.

He said in a statement posted on Instagram: "I want to write to you this evening to announce my departure from @staderennaisfc.

"It was a huge pride and a real honour to have worn and represented this jersey since I was 12 years old."

He said Rennes had "taught me a lot ... made me grow in all aspects" and said he would "always have great gratitude" to the club.

"I would like to say thank you, on behalf of all the moments spent together, to the staff, the coaches, the players, to all my team-mates and to the Pinault family [owners of the club] who made the rest possible," Tel wrote. "Thank you to the Rouge et Noir supporters, I sincerely wish you the best."

He signed off by adding: "A page turns. Cool head, warm heart in writing to you."

French sports newspaper L'Equipe reported Rennes and Bayern have agreed terms on a deal worth just short of €30million for Tel, who helped France win the European Under-17 Championship last month.

It is expected that Bayern will pay an initial €20million, with the rest of the fee being performance-related.

Bayern have sold star striker Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona in this transfer window, but the Bundesliga champions acquired Sadio Mane from Liverpool and also have the likes of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Joshua Zirkzee as out-and-out striker options.

They have expressed an interest in England captain Harry Kane, and their number nine shirt remains vacant ahead of a Bundesliga season that begins for Bayern with a trip to reigning Europa League champions Eintracht Frankfurt on August 5.

Sassuolo have agreed to sell Italy striker Gianluca Scamacca to West Ham, according to the Serie A club's chief executive Giovanni Carnevali.

The 23-year-old forward has been strongly linked with a move away from Sassuolo throughout the transfer window, with Paris Saint-Germain reportedly among the clubs interested.

Carnevali insisted earlier this month that Sassuolo were in no rush to sell their prized asset, adamant they would only let him leave on their terms.

And despite the apparent interest of PSG, West Ham are seemingly close to securing the striker's arrival.

Speaking to Corriere dello Sport, Carnevali said: "€36million plus €6m in bonuses and 10 per cent on any resale for Scamacca. A good deal, isn't it? Also, because West Ham is a selling club.

"Scamacca is the present and future of Italy, a complete striker. He's improved a lot in the last year, and he still has unexpressed potential.

"He has physical and technical strengths – he has to learn to play more with his team-mates, [but] he's an exceptional lad, very good."

Scamacca enjoyed a breakout campaign last season, scoring 16 goals in 36 appearances in Serie A.

His tally was only bettered by five players – Giovanni Simeone, Tammy Abraham (both 17), Lautaro Martinez (21), Dusan Vlahovic (24) and Ciro Immobile (27) – in the Italian top flight.

Meanwhile, Erling Haaland, Vinicius Junior and Vlahovic were the only players younger than Scamacca to score 15 or more goals in Europe's top five leagues.

Scamacca will expect to play a prominent role at West Ham should the deal go through, as the club lack depth in his position, with Michail Antonio the only recognised striker in their squad following last year's sale of Sebastien Haller.

Lionel Messi could return to Barcelona one day, according to club president Joan Laporta, who feels "indebted" to the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Messi's 21-year association with Barcelona, 16 of those spent as part of the senior squad, came to an end last August when he signed for PSG as a free agent.

The Argentina international won every trophy available with Barca and departed as the club's all-time record scorer with 672 goals across 778 appearances.

Last year's departure came as a huge shock at the time, with the Catalan giants' financial situation meaning they could not agree fresh terms that adhered to LaLiga's salary cap rules.

Messi has another year to run on his PSG deal, which will take him through to the age of 36, though that contract contains the option of a third season in Paris.

But Laporta, who was re-elected as president in March 2021, has opened the door for the club great to return to Catalonia one day.

"For Barca, he has possibly been the best player in history, the most efficient, only comparable to Johan Cruyff in the history of Barca," Laporta told ESPN.

"But it had to happen one day. We had to make a decision as a consequence of the legacy we had received, the institution is above players and coaches.

"I don't believe Messi's chapter at Barcelona is over. And I believe it is our responsibility to make sure that chapter is still open, that it hasn't closed.

"To have a moment to do it how it should have been done so that he may have a much more splendid ending than what he had."

 

Messi was directly involved in 937 goals for Barcelona, with his most prolific season coming in 2011-12 when scoring 73 goals in all competitions and assisting a further 28.

That is in stark contrast to the 11 goals and 14 assists managed in 34 games across all competitions during his first season at the Parc des Princes.

As the poster boy of the most successful period in Barca's history, Laporta feels a sense of gratitude towards the superstar forward.

"Do I feel indebted to him? Yes. Morally, as president of Barca, I did what I had to do," Laporta said. "But also as president of Barca and on a personal level, I think I owe him."

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