Neymar Downplays Father’s Influence on Future as He Focuses on World Cup Fitness Race

Neymar has spoken out against those who believe he is controlled by his father, claiming that only he will make the big decisions about his future.

The Brazilian superstar has been strongly linked with a move to ​Real Madrid just one year after leaving their deadly rivals ​Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in a deal worth €222m – the most lucrative transfer in football history.

Neymar’s father played a key part in facilitating that move but the 26-year-old says that his decisions will not be made by anyone but himself.​

“My father doesn’t take decisions for my career. I’m the one who decides about that,” he told Brazilian magazine VIP, as quoted by ​the Mirror.

“My father takes care of other matters that run parallel to football, so that I can focus only on my profession. He’s the best advisor I could ask for but, in the end, it’s my call.”

Neymar missed the end of the 2017/18 season, in which PSG won the domestic treble, but he is expected to be fit and ready for Brazil’s World Cup opener against Switzerland on 17th June.

He seemed in good spirits as he joked around with teammates at Tottenham’s training ground, where Brazil are preparing ahead of the tournament.

“I’m not yet at 100 per cent,” said Neymar, quoted by ​Sky Sports. “That will come with time. I’m still a bit scared of going all out, but there are still several days before our start.

“I feel good physically. My foot is fine. Of course I have to adjust to certain things. I’m feeling a bit of discomfort but it’s not going to stop me from playing.”

Brazil face Croatia in a friendly at Anfield on Sunday before flying out to Austria for their last warm-up game.



Paris Saint-Germain Reportedly Attempt to Lure Cristiano Ronaldo to the Parc Des Princes

After lifting his ​record fifth Champions League trophy following a 3-1 triumph over Liverpool in Kiev on Saturday, Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain are to set to attempt to lure Cristiano Ronaldo from the Santago Bernabeu this summer.

According to reports from Spanish news outlet ​AS, PSG want to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to the French capital in order to complete their dream attacking trio of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Ronaldo himself.


And following Madrid’s victory in Kiev, Ronaldo potentially opened the door for a dramatic exit from the reigning European Champions this summer, speaking following his side’s 13th European Cup triumph saying: “Now to enjoy, and in the next few days I will give an answer to the fans that they are on my side, it was very nice to be in Madrid.

“In the next few days I will give an answer, now we have to enjoy the moment, the future of any player is not important, we have made history”.

However, should the Parisiens make a move of the Portuguese superstar they will face two major obstacles, the first of which being the 33-year-old’s release clause, set at a colossal €1bn. Furthermore, assuming Paris find themselves capable of prising Ronaldo from Madrid, they would also face restrictions as a result of FIFA’s Financial Fair Play initiative. 

Subequently, despite the Portuguese star’s comments, it seems highly unlikely he will be parting company with Los Blancos, especially following their unprecedented success on the European stage.



Pep Guardiola Denies Man City Will Move for Star Real Madrid Midfielder This Summer

​Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has declared that his side will not be signing four-time Champions League winner Isco from Real Madrid this summer.

​Speculation during the season had linked Isco, who was disappointing in the Champions League final against Liverpool and replaced by match winner Gareth Bale at the hour mark, with a potentially very lucrative move to the Premier League champions.

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

However, speaking at an event this week, Guardiola has denied any such transfer will happen.

“City aren’t going to sign Isco,” he is quoted as saying by Catalan outlet Sport.

Isco remains under contract at the Bernabeu until the summer of 2022 after signing a new long-term deal just eight months ago. That deal also raised his buyout clause to €700m (£612m).

The Spanish midfielder, who played 49 times in all competitions for Real in 2017/18 and will surpass 250 appearances next season, was very heavily linked with City once before.

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That came in the summer of 2013 after an exceptional season with Malaga in the Champions League saw him emerge as one of Europe’s top talents. Manuel Pellegrini, his coach at Malaga, had been hired by City, but Isco chose Real instead.

With Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane all pulling the creative strings in City’s midfield, competition for attacking places is rife. A deeper role is available, however, with the club believed to be making progress in their pursuit of Napoli’s Jorginho.

It has been rumoured that a €50m (£44m) deal has been agreed with the Italian club.



Cristiano Ronaldo to Pay €28m or Risk Jail Sentence After Tax Authorities Reject Settlement Offer

​​Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will be forced to either pay the Spanish tax authorities a total of €28m, or take his fraud case to trial, after the player’s settlement offer was rejected.

A guilty verdict at a trial could see Ronaldo do prison time, with ​AS citing how prosecutors in sought a jail term of eight years for his former teammate Xabi Alonso.

The Ballon d’Or winner spoke last week about how he was treated last summer when initially accused of his tax fraud involving his image rights. ​In one instance, armed police boarded his boat whilst holidaying last summer.

However, according to AS, armed police could be the least of Ronaldo’s worries soon, after having been told to cough up a cool €28m fine or to take his trial to court – which, if it fails, could see him go to prison for a number of years.

The Portuguese star had offered to pay back the initial €14m and accept his guilt in the case in exchange for a prison sentence of two years. Spanish law allows first time offenders sentenced for only two years or less to avoid any actual jail time.


This was denied and instead Ronaldo will have to stump up €28m – paying back the initial amount plus interest, as well as a fine added on top.

According to the report, Real Madrid will also refuse to help their star player out. The club do not want to seem unethical, nor to look as though they give preferential treatment – and Ronaldo reportedly feels ostracised.

This is believed to be the reason behind his comments following the Champions League final, and the 33-year-old is said to be unhappy in the Spanish capital.


Mohamed Salah’s Feelings Towards Sergio Ramos After UCL Final Tussle Revealed By Physiotherapist

Liverpool’s physiotherapist Rubén Pons has claimed that Mohamed Salah harbours no ill feelings against ​Real Madrid star Sergio Ramos following the Egyptian’s injury in the Champions League final. 

​Liverpool were the better of the two teams in the opening exchanges but their dominance was ended midway through the first half when Salah was forced off with suspected ligament damage to his shoulder after tangling with Ramos. 

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

After the game, Ramos sent his commiserations to Salah via ​Twitter, posting: “Sometimes football shows you its good side and other times the bad. Above all, we are fellow pros. Get well soon Mo Salah.”

Nevertheless, some fans from Merseyside and Egypt lambasted the Spain international for his role in Salah’s injury, although the player himself holds no hard feelings against the 32-year-old – according to Liverpool’s physiotherapist. 

“Salah has not told me anything about Sergio Ramos. I don’t think he is angry with him, it was an accidental challenge,” Pons told ​El Partidazo del COPE.

“Salah is more animated and is much more optimistic. It is not a very common injury between outfield players, maybe more among goalkeepers.”

Speaking to reporters after the defeat, Salah said he was confident he would be fit in time for the World Cup, ​tweeting: “It was a very tough night, but I’m a fighter. Despite the odds, I’m confident that I’ll be in Russia to make you all proud. Your love and support will give me the strength I need.”

The Egyptian forward has since travelled to Spain to undergo treatment on the troubled shoulder and will be hopeful of featuring in Egypt’s World Cup opener to Uruguay on 15 June. 


Gareth Bale Unlikely to Make Tottenham Return This Summer Despite Club’s Buy-Back Clause

​Gareth Bale is highly unlikely to make a return to north London this summer as the Welsh forward is reportedly not on ​Tottenh​am’s list of transfer targets.

The 28-year-old’s ​Real Madrid future has been cast into doubt on a number of occasions this season and, following his unbelievable display against ​Liverpool in the Champions League final on Saturday, the Welshman threw more fuel to the fire by claiming he needs more regular playing time.

​Manchester United have been strongly linked to the 28-year-old in recent months, with the Red Devils looking to pounce on Bale’s current uncertainty with Los Blancos.

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

Bale’s former club Spurs have also been linked but, according to ​the Evening Standard, any hopes of a fairytale return will be virtually impossible.

Spurs do have a buy-back clause on Bale which will allow them to match any accepted bid from a rival Premier League club, but the potentially astronomical fees Bale will generate will make any prospective deal immensely difficult.

It has been reported that Bale is currently one of the highest earners in European football, with his weekly wages at Madrid thought to be in the region of around £400,000-a-week after tax – fees that Spurs simply cannot match.

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

Jonathan Barnett, Bale’s representative, is set to meet with Real Madrid later this week to discuss what the future may hold next. If he is available this summer, an almighty transfer saga is set to begin with some of Europe’s biggest clubs all set to vie for his signature.

Spurs, meanwhile, will be looking at more realistic options to bolster their attack next season such as ​Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and Manchester United’s Anthony Martial.



Spain Boss Julen Lopetegui Will Give Dani Carvajal Time to Prove Fitness Ahead of World Cup

​Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has given a positive update on crocked defender Dani Carvajal, refusing to rule the Real Madrid right-back out of his World Cup plans.

The 26-year-old left Olimpiyskiy Stadium in tears after being forced off in the first half of their Champions League final victory over Liverpool on Saturday.


But according the ​Mail Online, after undergoing a number of tests, Carvajal’s injury was revealed to be minor, giving everyone in Spain encouragement that he will recover in time for this summer’s World Cup.

The right back joined up with the Spanish camp this week so that he can begin his recovery under the supervision of the team doctors and Lopetegui said he will review Carvajal’s condition at the end of their training camp, before heading off to Russia.


“I had a feeling it was not so bad and it was confirmed,” Lopetegui told ​El Larguero on Monday.

“The doctors told us that they are going to fight to play the first game. We are going to see his progress. The last week will be working with everyone. We thought it is worth waiting for Carvajal.”

Germany v Spain - International Friendly

Carvajal, who has made only 15 international appearances for Spain, spoke of his desire to to work as hard as possible in order regain full fitness in time for the World Cup.

He said: “I came here to recover and try to get better quickly. I am going to give it my best and try to make the team up until the time the final list has to be turned in.

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

“Thank God it was not as bad as I feared. I had bad memories from the injury during the Euros. This diagnosis says it is a minor injury.

“I am going to try to recover and be available as soon as possible. The Champions League was something incredible, but now I am focused on wearing my country’s shirt.”



Only One Player in History Now Has More European Cup Titles Than Cristiano Ronaldo

​Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo lifted the fifth Champions League title of his career at the weekend following a 3-1 victory over Liverpool in Kyiv.

The fifth title of his career moves the Portuguese living legend one ahead of great rival Lionel Messi in the continental stakes and puts him into a very select group of players to have won at least five European Cup/Champions League titles in the competition’s 62-year history.


Ronaldo is the 11th member of that illustrious, with just a single player winning more.

That player, with six titles, is Real icon Paco Gento. Surely, after backtracking on his vague threat of quitting the club, Ronaldo already has that record equalling sixth title in his sights.

Gento was part of the Real side that originally dominated the European Cup in its infancy, winning five trophies on the spin from 1956 to 1960. The winger, who also won a Spanish record of 12 La Liga titles during his career, was then part of Los Blancos’ 1966 winning team as well.

He was the only player present for all of the club’s first six European Cup triumphs.

Paco Gento

Picture: Gento leading Real out as captain ahead of a 1962 clash with Juventus

Ronaldo’s fifth European title ties him with nine others. As many as seven of those are also from Real, again from that early team that won an historic five in a row.

Bernabeu legend Alfredo Di Stefano, who scored in each of those finals as Real beat Reims (1956, 1959), Fiorentina (1957), AC Milan (1958) and Eintrach Frankfurt (1960), is among them.

As are, Marquitos, Juan Alonso, Jose Maria Zarraga, Rafael Lesmes, Juan Santisteban and Hector Rial. Just Gento survived to 1966 when Real beat Partizan Belgrade in Brussels.

From AC Milan, both Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta also have five European Cup/Champions League wins each. The pair of Italian defenders both enjoyed incredible longevity in their careers, with 18 years separating their first and last titles in 1989 and 2007.

Captain Paolo Maldini if Milan lifts the trophy

Until Real retained the Champions League last season, Maldini and Costacurta were part of the last team to successfully defend a European title, having won it back-to-back in 1989 and 1990. Milan also won in 1994, when Costacurta was suspended for the final, and in 2003.

Aged 41 by 2007 in his final season as a professional, Costacurta was left out of that final against Liverpool, although he had played a handful of games in earlier rounds. Maldini, on the other hand, started all five of his victorious finals.

Having also lost finals in 1993, 1995 and 2005, Maldini and Costacurta could have had more titles. Equally, Real lost finals in 1962 and 1964 that would have inflated Gento’s tally of wins. So far, Ronaldo has lost only one final, when Manchester United were beaten by Barcelona in 2009.

Player ​Club(s) European Titles
​Paco Gento Real Madrid​ 6 (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966​)
Cristiano Ronaldo​ Man Utd, Real Madrid​ 5 (2008, 2014​, 2016, 2017, 2018)
Paolo Maldini​ AC Milan​ 5 (1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007)​
Alessandro Costacurta​ AC Milan​ 5 (1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007)​
Juan Alonso​ Real Madrid​ 5 (1956, ​1957, 1958, 1959, 1960)
Alfredo Di Stefano​ Real Madrid​ 5 (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960)​
​Rafael Lesmes ​Real Madrid 5 (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960)​
​Marquitos ​Real Madrid 5 (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960)
​Hector Rial ​Real Madrid ​5 (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960)
​Juan Santisteban ​Real Madrid 5 (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960)​
Jose Maria Zarraga​ ​Real Madrid 5 (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960)​



Spain Legend Insists Barça Must ‘Reflect on Priorities’ Following Real Madrid’s Success in Europe

Former Barcelona defender Carles Puyol has claimed that the club must “reflect on our priorities” after their bitter rivals Real Madrid recently lifted their fourth Champions League trophy in five years.

Madrid eventually cruised to a 3-1 win over Liverpool last week to win Europe’s elite competition, thus claiming their 13th European crown.

However, Puyol – who won three Champions League’s with Barcelona – is eager to see his former side challenge Los Blancos in Europe again, even in spite of their domestic success this season.

AS Roma v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg

Congratulations Madridistas,” Puyol tweeted following the final in Ukraine. “Four Champions Leagues in five seasons against one of the best Barcelona teams in history… we must reflect on our priorities.

The league cannot be thrown away, but the cup must be played by those who do not play regularly and be at the top of the Champions League,” he later added.

“Having said that, I think Barça have had a great season. Visca Barca always.”

Barcelona last reached the Champions League final at the end of the 2014/15 season, securing a comfortable 3-1 win over Juventus to lift the trophy for the fifth time in their history. 

However, despite winning the title four times between 2006 and 2015, the Blaugrana have only reached the final on four occasions in over 25 years – the same amount of times as Real Madrid have reached the last stage of the competition since 2014.



Champions League Hero Gareth Bale Reveals He Didn’t Speak to Zinedine Zidane After Final Win

Following his ​Champions League final performance, Gareth Bale seemingly wowed the entire world with his first of two goals in ​Real Madrid’s 3-1 victory over Liverpool.

The Welshman leapt to meet a Marcelo cross and, just as Mario Mandzukic did in 2017, he executed a spectacular bicycle kick that found its way over a helpless Loris Karius and into the back of the net.

“I just remember Marcelo clipping a ball in, it was kind of at right height to give it a go and it was great to get the connection,” Bale told journalists following the match.

Real Madrid v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Final

As a result of converting such an amazing goal after coming off the subs bench, you’d have thought that ​Real Madrid’s manager Zinedine Zidane would be quick to congratulate Bale for his heroics and almost single-handedly winning Los Blancos their third Champions League trophy in a many years.

However, the French manager instead didn’t utter so much as a word to Bale for over three hours after the final whistle, as reported by ​Metro.

When asked whether Zidane had spoken to him, following his match-winning performance against Liverpool Bale responded bluntly, saying: “No”.

Such a story seemingly sums up Bale and Zidane’s frosty relationship, with Bale not feeling as though he has the support of the Los Blancos coach, leading to speculation that ​the Welsh superstar could be on his way out at Madrid in the upcoming transfer window.