Neymar to finalise new Barcelona contract in ‘next few days’

According to the ESPNFC Neymar will sign a new five-year Barcelona contract in the next few days, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said.

neymartweeterNeymar’s current deal with Barca ends in June 2018 and talks over an extension have been ongoing for some time amid regular rumours that potential suitors such as Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester United could pay the 24-year-old’s €200 million release clause this summer.

However, Bartomeu told a news conference on Thursday: “Neymar is not leaving Barca. He is not going to leave.

“The socios [club members] know this, and that is why — and I don’t know whether it will happen tomorrow or the day after — Neymar is going to sign for five seasons.”

Neymar’s former agent Wagner Ribeiro had recently said there was interest in the Brazil international from “three big clubs” but that he was happy at the Camp Nou, and the forward’s father subsequently stressed that there was “zero chance” of a move to Madrid.

Neymar joined Barca from Santos in 2013 and has won La Liga and the Copa del Rey on two occasions as well as the 2015 Champions League

However, his arrival has prompted off-field problems due to the complicated nature of the transfer, with the club recently reaching an agreement with the Spanish authorities to pay €15m in back taxes and a €5.5m fine.

Bartomeu added: “It is normal that other clubs are interested in him, but I am saying this clearly: Neymar has never told us that he wants to leave.

“He wants to stay here and we want him to be here, and that is why the club’s lawyers and Neymar’s lawyers are working to finish this renewal and we hope it will be done over the next few days.

“But we are coming from a tax case with the Spanish revenue service and the prosecutor, and so we must write the contract very carefully. He will continue here for five years.”


Spain Fall Short

PARIS — The answer to what has happened to Spain lies with Xavi Hernandez. And not just his absence from the national team, for that would be awfully simplistic.

Xavi said in more than one interview that “because [Spain] tend to be a small, slight team, we have to be at our absolute utmost, in form, fit and passing well, in order to compete against a series of teams who are bigger, faster and stronger than us.”

While Spain ruled, they did so not simply because they were technically exquisite, nor even just because they had a clutch of historically good and inspirational footballers — think Xavi, Andres Iniesta, David Villa and Iker Casillas — but also because they spent the vast majority of the period between 2007-13 training, preparing, thinking and then performing at their absolute maximum.

To paraphrase the now internationally-retired Xavi, the advantage of being better at football and better on the ball than most of their rivals wasn’t enough on its own.


Iceland take stunning lead over Englnad

Iceland take stunning 2-1 lead

A goalkeeping error by Joe Hart has put Iceland 2-1 up vs. England in Nice. Wayne Rooney gave Roy Hodgson’s side the lead from the penalty spot before Ragnar Sigurdsson’s equaliser two minutes later


Fifa To Manage Argentina Federation Affairs

ZURICH — FIFA says it has taken control of Argentina’s football federation from the current leadership and will help pick an emergency panel to manage its affairs.

FIFA announced the decision Friday, two days before the Lionel Messi-led Argentina team plays the Copa America Centenario final against Chile in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

On Thursday, Argentina soccer body president Luis Segura — a member of FIFA’s ruling council — was charged with fraud related to TV broadcasting rights.

Led by Julio Grondona since the 1970s, the federation has been in turmoil since the late FIFA senior vice president died in 2014.

FIFA says a so-called “normalization committee” of up to seven members “will be in charge of running the daily affairs” of the Argentine body.

Elections must be organized by July 2017.


Barca and Man City battle over Jesus Gabriel

According to our source at Transfer Talk:

City, Barca in fight for Brazilian star

It appears battle lines have been drawn for a player considered by some in Brazil to have the potential to be the new Neymar.

In one corner, Barcelona. In the other, former Barca boss Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. The player? Gabriel Jesus.

Let’s start with City: The Sun reports that Guardiola has offered £16.7 million for the Palmeiras forward.

It adds that the 19-year-old has two release clauses in his contract, with one allowing City, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid to sign him for that amount.

The other, applicable to any other club caring to bid, is for £27.8m.

With Gabriel Jesus having attracted the attention of “a host of European giants,” City “have made the first real move,” the Sun says.

But hang on — Barcelona have also made an offer and have started talks with Palmeiras, Spanish outlet Sport says.

Negotiations, according to its report, “could progress over the coming days,” with Barcelona scouts believing a move for the teenager would be “a safe bet.”

Palmeiras are reportedly resigned to the fact that they will lose Jesus this summer — and it appears only to be a question of to which club


Three Big Clubs have their eyes on Neymar

Neymar is attracting interest from “three big clubs” but is happy to stay at Barcelona, according to his former agent Wagner Ribeiro.

Neymar’s current deal with Barca ends in June 2018 and talks over an extension have been ongoing for some time amid regular rumours that potential suitors such as Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester United could pay his €200 million release clause this summer.

There had been reports that he was due to sign contract extension after May’s Copa del Rey final against Sevilla and, although no agreement was formalised, the 24-year-old said he was happy at the Camp Nou at the club’s postseason celebrations.

Legal problems relating to his 2013 transfer from Santos to Barcelona had been seen as one reason the negotiations were dragging on, but Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu said this week that a deal done with the Spanish tax authorities over that issue should help advance the matter.

Neymar’s former agent Ribeiro, who remains a close associate and advisor to the forward’s father, has now told Radio Jovem Pan: “There are three big clubs who want to sign Neymar and to pay Barcelona his €200m clause

“I cannot say any more in this conversation because it is confidential. I can only assure you that Neymar is happy in Barcelona.”

Bartomeu said last month that it was “impossible” that Neymar, Lionel Messi or Luis Suarez would leave the club.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Twitter @dermotmcorrigan.


Dortmund reject Manchester United bid for Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Borussia Dortmund reject Manchester United’s £19m bid for Henrikh Mkhitaryan

News reaching Transfer Talk is that:

Borussia Dortmund have been fending off bids from a host of European giants attempting to prize away some of their best players like vultures, and Manchester United are the latest club to make an enquiry.

The Red Devils have tabled a £19 million bid for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, according to the Mirror. The Germans have reportedly rejected the bid and will continue to turn down offers for their star players after already sanctioning the sales of Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gundogan this summer.

The 27-year-old has just one year left on his current deal, and Dortmund risk losing the player for free next year. That does not appear to be a concern for the Bundesliga runners-up, and Jose Mourinho will have to look elsewhere for a playmaker.


Russia beaten by Slovakia

Marek Hamsik was the star of the show as Slovakia beat Russia 2-1 in Lille inGroup B. A raking cross-field pass from Hamsik picked out Vladimir Weiss after 32 minutes, who cut inside before picking out the far corner to open the scoring.


And it was Hamsik who repeated the trick shortly before half-time, cutting back on to his right foot and bending a beautiful shot in off the far post.

A header from substitute Denis Glushakov pulled one back for Russia with 10 minutes remaining, but it was too little too late from Leonid Slutsky’s lacklustre side.

The result leaves Russia likely to need a win from their final group game against Wales to avoid elimination, while Slovakia, who face England in their final match, now have a good chance of progressing to the knockout stage.

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Ronaldo’s criticism of Iceland arrogant

Ronaldo’s criticism of Iceland arrogant and did him a disservice.

If only Cristiano Ronaldo had been so cutting on the actual pitch. After the Real Madrid star failed to score in Portugal’s frustrating 1-1 draw with Iceland, a match in which he put forward a very quiet and underwhelming individual performance, he at least succeeded in taking some attention away from the Nordic heroes with the following comments in the mixed zone.

“Iceland didn’t try anything,” Ronaldo said after Iceland had actually pulled off the greatest result in their history in their first ever tournament match. “It was a lucky night for them. We should have three points but we are OK. I thought they’d won the Euros the way they celebrated at the end. It was just unbelievable. When they don’t try to play and just defend, defend, defend this is in my opinion shows a small mentality and are not going to do anything in the competition.”

You could say it was surprising that Ronaldo would come out with disrespectful comments like this, as the Iceland story is so well-known by now, but they’re all too believable given what we have already heard on numerous occasions throughout his career. The sad reality is that, aside from being bitter and laughable, these words were also self-absorbed and a typically arrogant attempt to absolve himself of any criticism.

Put simply, these are the type of comments that fuel his critics, reiterate why he is greatly respected rather than adored and why he doesn’t have the widespread affection that his ability should afford him. Iceland’s Kari Arnason offered a bit more edge after the game, saying that Ronaldo is “not a gracious human being” and adding: “His comments are the reason why [Lionel] Messi is always going to be one step ahead of him… it shows we got under his skin. It was lovely to hear that.”
Given how deeply competitive Ronaldo is with Messi, Arnason’s words may have irked the Portuguese even further. Asked whether you would expect Messi to say things like that, the Iceland defender said “no.”

Arnason plays his club football with Malmo, and appeared in Real Madrid’s 8-0 humiliation of the Swedish side in the Champions League this season — when Ronaldo hit four — so that adds another level of hypocrisy to the star’s comments. It’s extremely rich for Ronaldo to complain about how Iceland celebrated such a meaningful result for them, given the ostentatious and often ludicrous in-your-face way he celebrates genuinely meaningless goals when Real are just adding another to a pummelling of vastly inferior-resourced sides like Malmo, Getafe or Levante. With the way he reacts to those — to use the player’s own phrase against him — you would think he had won the Spanish title. That is still something he has barely done, managing it just once in seven years.

Ronaldo surely can’t even claim ignorance of the Iceland story. His comments came after he was asked about whether he could see the romance of their result. He didn’t seem to care about that.

The comments are even worse when you consider the pattern of the game, let alone the context. Iceland kept him so quiet on the pitch, with crunching tackles and pressing, which may explain why Ronaldo was so unfairly vociferous on it. When Ronaldo did finally get a chance, a free header minutes from the end, he wasted it with a poor effort straight at the goalkeeper.

Indeed, as Arnason also said, Iceland “almost nicked the win so him saying we aren’t going for the win contradicts that.” It’s all the more impressive that they actually came from behind. Sides that are set up in the truly defensive way Ronaldo described tend to have no way back once they concede the opening goal.
There was just so much hypocrisy, and also self-indulgent wastefulness. Around the time that Iceland did get those chances to nick it, Portugal got a series of free kicks. Ronaldo, of course, insisted on taking them, only to add to his continuously poor set-piece record in recent times. His goal against Portsmouth for Manchester United in 2008 may be one of his most famous, but he has failed on what feel like endless attempts to repeat it.

The thing with Ronaldo is that, for all his preening and self-indulgence, many teammates do like him a lot. At one media dinner, one figure began criticising the Portuguese’s selfishness as a player, only for a former Manchester United teammate of Ronaldo’s to immediately interject that, in 2007-08, the player told Owen Hargreaves to take United’s free kicks as he was hitting them better.

But Ronaldo’s comments on Iceland are why he possibly doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a player. He should have known that, given the nature of the Iceland story, there is just no way to say those things and not look bad.

Despite all that, the fitting final word went to Iceland. “I mean, he can say whatever he wants,” Arnason said. “He didn’t really get a chance today, he got one and he couldn’t put it away. What can I say? Sore loser. Tough s—.”

Miguel Delaney is a London-based correspondent for ESPN FC and also writes for the Irish Examiner and others. Follow him on Twitter @MiguelDelaney.


Arsenal target Jamie Vardy should stick with Leicester – Danny Simpson

Danny Simpson is of the view that Jamie Vardy should stick with Leicester despite Arsenal’s wooing.

Leicester City defender Danny Simpson has said everyone at the club is desperate for Arsenal target Jamie Vardy to stay at the King Power Stadium this summer.

Vardy, 29, is currently weighing up whether to make the switch to the Gunners, with sources telling ESPN FC that he has already undergone the first stage of his medical at the club.

The former Fleetwood Town player is currently on international duty with England and reports claim he will not make a final decision on his future until after Euro 2016.

“I have spoken to Jamie. Everyone wants him to stay. We would like everyone to stay, even if it’s just for one more year,” Simpson told BBC’s Sportsweek.

“It’s his decision, and he says he wants to concentrate on the European Championships. Jamie knows what I think of him as a lad and a player.

“No money can buy the bond that we have got at the club. It’s a special group. Why not carry on and kick on as a group and squad?”

Vardy was left on the bench by Roy Hodgson for England’s Euro 2016 opener against Russia on Sunday, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Simpson, 29, was frustrated not to see his teammate given a chance in Marseille, but is hopeful he will feature for the Three Lions in Thursday’s game against Wales.

“I was disappointed he didn’t start, never mind that he didn’t come on. I am sure he will get an opportunity soon,” Simpson said. ~ Via ESPN