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."

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.

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."

New Paris Saint-Germain boss Christophe Galtier has admitted he is uncertain about Neymar's future, despite the forward's desire to stay at the club.

The 30-year-old Brazil international is reportedly free to leave the French capital, though the former Barcelona man is not pushing for an exit.

Neymar has three years remaining on his PSG contract and stated on Saturday that he is happy to remain with the Ligue 1 champions.

Galtier revealed he is not sure if Neymar will be part of his squad for the 2022-23 season.

"Neymar is happy, he has been working well since the beginning of the pre-season," he said after the 3-0 win against Urawa Red Diamonds.

"What will happen in the near future when the transfer window closes, I don't know.

"We announce he's leaving, we announce he's staying - I haven't spoken to Ney about this. But he doesn't seem to be bothered about what is said about him and his situation at the club."

Neymar scored 13 Ligue 1 goals for PSG last season as they reclaimed the title but has not scored in the knockout stages of the Champions League since March 2020, when he was on target against Borussia Dortmund. 

Neymar has declared that his desire is to stay at Paris Saint-Germain amid reports he could be on the move.

The Brazil international has been linked with the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Juventus.

Neymar came on just before the hour mark in PSG's 3-0 friendly win over Japanese outfit Urawa Red Diamonds in Saitama on Saturday and spoke of his wish to remain with the Ligue 1 champions after the match.

The former Barcelona forward, who has three years remaining on his contract, told reporters: "I want to stay in Paris.

"I don't know about the club since they haven't told me anything. I have a multi-year contract here. So far, I haven't been told anything."

Neymar was in the PSG team that crumbled at the Bernabeu last season, when a Karim Benzema hat-trick saw PSG let a 2-0 second-leg lead slip against Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16.

He was booed in PSG's next home game after that collapse, and there has been talk of that reaction leading to the 30-year-old wanting to seek pastures new.

Yet Neymar says he is looking forward to the new season with Christophe Galtier in charge following Mauricio Pochettino's departure.

He added: "I feel good, in good shape, after the holidays at home. For everyone, we have to train a lot to improve as a team. The truth is that everything is fine.

"I have nothing to prove to anyone. I like to play football, I'm happy."

Pablo Sarabia has called on Paris Saint-Germain to "leave aside individualities" ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.

The midfielder spent last season on loan at Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon, where he scored 15 goals in 29 league appearances.

But Sarabia is now back at PSG and preparing to fight for a place in the squad amid the departures of key personnel such as Angel Di Maria and Xavi Simons.

PSG won Ligue 1 last season, their fourth title in five years, but failed once more to bring their first Champions League trophy back to Paris.

They brought in Lionel Messi to try and help them achieve that goal, but a dramatic collapse to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the last 16 meant their ultimate goal went unfulfilled again.

Head coach Mauricio Pochettino was sacked at the end of the season, with former Nice boss Christophe Galtier brought in to replace him.

Sarabia has been impressed by the discipline Galtier has brought to the team and wants the whole squad to form a united front.

"I think in any job, discipline and rules are important," Sarabia told AFP.

"It is necessary for a good cohabitation and to form a good group. I think it will be good for everyone.

"You have to build a good group, leave aside individualities because the most important thing is the collective.

"We see it every year, the teams that are the most united are those that end up winning titles."

Sarabia also commented on his own personal performance, and what he can bring to Galtier's team.

The former Sevilla midfielder added: "Right now, I feel that I am in the best period of my career, with a lot of confidence.

"The most important thing for a team is to have 15, 16, 17 players ready to play, at the same level, because there are a lot of matches.

"Everyone is going to be needed, so I'll be ready for that. I think I can bring work, enthusiasm, goals and assists."

The revolving door at Stamford Bridge could face a potential slow down with the growing wage disparity between the Premier League and the rest of Europe's top five leagues.

Premier League clubs dominate lists of the highest wage spenders in European football and since Roman Abramovich's takeover, Chelsea have long been a prominent figure in that regard.

In a changing marketplace, however, moving players this season has become a trickier task.

 

TOP STORY – WERNER, KEPA STAYING PUT AT CHELSEA

Chelsea are struggling to move Timo Werner and Kepa Arrizabalaga among other players due to wage demands, according to The Telegraph.

The Blues are also finding it tricky to move Michy Batshuayi and Ross Barkley, despite the club's desire to accommodate potential signings.

Werner has seen the Blues search for attackers this off-season and could potentially be joining Romelu Lukaku out the door, while Kepa has notably been Edouard Mendy's understudy.

Finding a suitable club for the two has the potential to be difficult, however, with both being brought in on lucrative wages.

 

ROUND-UP

– Barcelona will make a final attempt to sign Sevilla's Jules Kounde amid likelier interest from Chelsea, Sport is reporting.

Manchester City have had a £30million bid for Marc Cucurella rejected by Brighton and Hove Albion, who value him around £50m, according to The Athletic.

Paris Saint-Germain are looking to offload Georginio Wijnaldum and Roma have emerged as a potential destination for the Netherlands midfielder, Corriere dello Sport reports.

– Juventus are considering the termination of Aaron Ramsey's contract in an attempt to cut heavy wage spending, per Fabrizio Romano.

Bernardo Silva has vowed to shut out speculation about his future and commit to Manchester City until the time comes to leave the Premier League champions.

That could be several seasons away, or a matter of weeks if potential suitors put together a package that appeals to City.

Silva has been linked in the close season with Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, with that level of interest underlining his status as one of Europe's leading attacking midfielders.

The Portugal international has spent five fruitful seasons at City, since joining from Monaco, and his contract runs through to the end of the 2024-25 season.

Manager Pep Guardiola is clearly not rushing to offload the 27-year-old, who is with City on their pre-season tour in the United States and played 76 minutes of Wednesday's friendly against Club America.

Addressing his future, Silva said on Sky Sports News: "What is really important is that I am preparing my season as well as possible.

"For as long as I play for City, I will always give my best. The relationship with the club, with the fans and my team-mates is fantastic, and I will always respect that."

Guardiola this week dismissed a report in French newspaper Le Parisien that claimed PSG had offered Neymar to City as part of a swap deal that would have seen Silva go the other way.

Barcelona appeared to be strongly interested earlier in pre-season but have since shifted their focus, bringing in Raphinha from Leeds United as an attacking midfield option while completing the signing of Franck Kessie on a free transfer from Milan.

Christophe Galtier says Paris Saint-Germain have plenty of work to do as they adapt to a new system after starting their tour with a win over Kawasaki Frontale.

Goals from Lionel Messi and Arnaud Kalimuendo gave the Ligue 1 champions a 2-1 victory over the champions of Japan at the National Stadium in front of a crowd of over 60,000 on Wednesday.

Galtier, who replaced the sacked Mauricio Pochettino as PSG head coach this month, started with Sergio Ramos, Presnel Kimpembe and Marquinhos in a back three.

The former Lille and Nice boss felt PSG were fortunate to only concede once in their tour opener, but knows it will take time for them to adapt to a different formation.

He is quoted saying in L'Equipe: "It was a very fast-paced game against a team that is in the middle of its championship, so physically, tactically and technically ready.

"Concerning us, there were good offensive combinations. I liked the way my players put pressure on the pitch loud and clear, which allowed us to be dangerous and create a lot of situations for ourselves.

"We are evolving in a new system, in 3-4-1-2, so we have to assimilate it. We experienced a lot of imbalances and thus conceded far too many situations on our goal.

"It's a big line of work for the coming weeks. We want to be able to have a lot of people [involved] offensively and at the same time to be able to keep a fair balance.

"You have to try to quickly find adjustments and compensations to avoid being caught in transition situations."

The Parisian giants will take on Urawa Red Diamonds in their next match on Saturday.

Lille midfielder Renato Sanches will join either Paris Saint-Germain or Milan, according to Les Dogues president Oliver Letang.

Sanches has been heavily linked with a move to the French capital as he enters the final 12 months of his contract, but Letang insisted at the end of June that the Ligue 1 champions had made no contact.

Milan are the other European side interested in the 24-year-old, with reports suggesting the Rossoneri have a €15million deal in place with Lille should they fail to agree a transfer with PSG.

Letang, speaking at a news conference on Wednesday to welcome Guinea forward Mohamed Bayo to Lille, confirmed Sanches will leave, though he remains unsure to which club yet.

"Renato has two very good possibilities, two very big clubs," he told reporters. "If he is still with us, it is because we have not reached an agreement with the clubs concerned.

"Renato is going to leave, to which club I don't know. I will keep the nature of these discussions confidential. It will be Paris or Milan."

PSG have already brought in Hugo Ekitike and Vitinha as the first signings of former Lille coach Christophe Galtier's tenure.

Sanches would provide another creative presence in midfield for Galtier's side, having created the most chances of any Lille player during his three league campaigns at the club (88 – since 2019-20).

Last season, the Portugal international also led the Lille charts for assists (five – level with Burak Yilmaz) and ranked third for successful passes in the opposition half (724).

Sanches will be hoping a move to either Milan or PSG will boost his hopes of featuring at the World Cup in Qatar for Portugal in November.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has rubbished rumours linking the English champions with a swap deal for Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar.

French outlet Le Parisien reported that PSG had offered Neymar to City as part of a swap deal earlier in the off-season that would have seen Bernardo Silva go the other way.

According to the report City declined the proposal but Guardiola clarified the story was not accurate.

"I am so sorry for Le Parisien, but it is not true," Guardiola told reporters in Houston ahead of their pre-season game against Club America on Wednesday.

"I am sorry for them because the information they have received is false.

"Neymar is an incredible player and by my information, he is a nice guy. Let him express himself at Paris.

"Manchester City bought 150 players every summer, and it is not true. I am sorry for Neymar, of course."

It has been reported this off-season that PSG have put 30-year-old Neymar on the market, while Guardiola reiterated his belief that Bernardo would stay at City last month amid links with Barcelona.

City have landed several key players this off-season, with new signings Erling Haaland, Kalvin Phillips, Julian Alvarez and Stefan Ortega Moreno, while Bernardo has established himself a pivotal player in City's midfield.

The English champions won the race to land 21-year-old Norwegian forward Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, with expectations high for his impact at a club which appeared to lack an out-and-out striker last term.

"We cannot put too much pressure on these players," Guardiola said.

"We need to get them houses, apartments in Manchester, and in the sessions what we want them to do will increase.

"The first impressions of Julian, Kalvin, Erling, and Stefan were really good – they seem like good people.

"Having good vibes in the locker room is more important than tactics."

Guardiola also did not close the door on further signings, with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko – who is set to join Arsenal – all departing.

"We will see about signing, [Manchester City director of football] Txiki [Begiristain] and his department are scouting, he’ll know what is best for the team," he said.

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