Neymar: I will not leave Santos for free

Neymar - Santos FC

Ricardo Saibun | Santos FC

Neymar has insisted that he will not leave Santos for free once his contract expires in 2014.

The Brazil striker has long been linked with a move away from his current club, with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich all credited with an interest in the player.

The 20-year-old has always insisted that he will only move on when the time is right, and has now hinted at signing an extension to his current deal to ensure his side do not end up empty-handed.

“With everything the club have done for me and my family, leaving for free is not an option,” he told reporters.

“But it’s something very distant and we still have to talk. First I’ll try to win some trophies and then I’ll think about it. I don’t know if I’ll be leaving for free.

“It depends on the club and if they want to let me go for nothing.”

Meanwhile, his agent, Wagner Ribeiro, has also insisted that Santos will be rewarded when their prize asset eventually makes the move to Europe.

“Neymar’s family are very grateful to Santos, the club that built him as a player and projected him to world fame.

“Certainly at the end of his contract they will study the best way for him to continue in Brazil or go to Europe with Santos benefiting from it somehow.”

Messi called Karanka 'Mourinho's puppet' after El Clasico – Callejon

Real Madrid forward Jose Callejon has insisted that Lionel Messi insulted Blancos assistant coach Aitor Karanka by labelling him “Mourinho’s puppet”, shortly after his side 1-1 draw with Barcelona in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old says that the Argentine had also approached Arvalo Arbeloa after the game, backing up reports that he had a heated exchange with the Spanish defender in the Santiago Bernabeu’s parking area.

“Messi called Karanka ‘Mourinho’s puppet’ and then insulted Arbeloa after the match,” Callejon told reporters at a press conference.

“On the pitch, it is heated and we can understand why people say things they regret later. But that a fellow professional waits for an hour, an hour and a half, to insult a man with his wife is a little much.

“The good guys aren’t always good and the bad guys aren’t always bad.”

Callejon went on to say that Madrid have improved against Barcelona in recent fixtures, and urged his team-mates to go for the jugular in the second leg.

“Playing Barcelona is always difficult because they have a lot of possession but we have have to go on and give our best in the second leg. We have improved in the last few matches.

“It was a good result for us. The tie is open. We did not want to concede, but we couldn’t. We have to go to Camp Nou with the intention of reaching the final.”

Callejon also spoke about Real Madrid’s new signing from Sevilla who will replace the injured Iker Casillas.

“We are calm because he is an experienced goalkeeper who makes us calm, but so do Iker and [Antonio] Adan.”

PSG among Europe's elite, says Casanova

Toulouse coach Alain Casanova believes that Paris Saint-Germain are on the same level as recognised European giants such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United.

The 51-year-old feels the Parisiens are doing a lot to raise the profile of the French game, having lured stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Javier Pastore and David Beckham to Ligue 1 in recent years, and has nothing but praise for their approach.

“For me, this team is the calibre of Barcelona, Real Madrid or Manchester United, even if they have less experience,” the Toulouse coach was quoted as saying on the official Ligue 1 website.

“The value of any one of their players is equal to our budget. That makes you think. But it’s a great opportunity for Ligue 1 and for us all. PSG are a driving force, and we need that. PSG are doing a lot for French football.

“You can like their policy or not, but they are pulling our game upwards and we needed that. It’s up to the other clubs to organise the revolt, to find solutions and the means to improve in terms of their play and economically.”

Toulouse host PSG on Friday evening.

Granada-Real Madrid Betting Preview: Why the champions should win without conceding

After the glorious spectacle of Wednesday night’s Clasico at the Bernabeu, it is back to earth with the proverbial bump for Real Madrid on Saturday as they travel to struggling Granada.

The Champions at times played some stunning football against Barcelona, who themselves contributed to a magnificent evening’s entertainment, yet of course the game at Granada will be a very different affair.

price Madrid at 3/10 (1.33) for the win while Granada, who gave Madrid a fright in the fixture last season, can be backed at 8/1 (9.00), with the draw offered at 4/1 (5.00).

The Andalusians will be hoping for an immediate impact having unexpectedly sacked manager Juan Antonio Anquela and replaced him with a man who’s been on more journeys than a high speed train, Lucas Alcaraz.

Having been in charge of Granada in the early 1990’s, the nomadic Alcaraz has plied his trade across the entire Andalusian region; from Almeria in the west to Huelva and Xerez in the east via Cordoba, the 46-year-old is well versed in the travails of lower league football in the south of the Iberian peninsular.

Facing the reigning Spanish champions, however, is another matter, and while Granada have played some decent stuff this season, they have struggled pitifully in front of goal. Their total of 18 goals in 21 games is the second lowest in the league and among the lowest of any team in Europe’s major divisions.

With Sergio Ramos returning from suspension and Rafael Varane showing the world just what a talented player he is, Madrid should have little problem in keeping a clean sheet, something they have done in each of their last three league games.

Therefore punters would be wise to invest in Madrid to win without conceding offered at the exceptionally appealing price of 29/20 (2.45).

Granada have failed to score in nine of their 21 league games this season, and with Madrid beating them 3-0 earlier this season, there is a great chance that Los Blancos will maintain their new-found defensive solidity against once of the division’s poorest sides.

For a value bet, back Real Madrid to score twice in the first-half at 16/5 (4.20) which looks to offer some decent value as, if Madrid get an early goal, there is every chance they will follow it up with another against a shaky Granada back four.

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Phil Kitromilides is a sports anchor working on TV in Madrid. You can also follow Phil on Twitter.

Hierro: Varane has got it all

Real Madrid legend Fernando Hierro has taken the time to praise Raphael Varane in the wake of the Frenchman’s impressive performance against Barcelona.

The young centre-back put in a man-of-the-match performance to help Madrid to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final against the Catalan giants, and has since been compared to Hierro.

“It’s not time for that or for any other comparisons. Varane is very good, he’s magnificent and he’s got it all,” Hierro told Marca.

“He’s a player with good ball control, good positioning and he’s very fast. He’s also strong in the air in both boxes.

“But he must be left to grow, so he can be taken care of, creating the ideal environment for him to develop and show what he’s got.

“Flaws? It would be strange if he didn’t have anything that needed correcting at the age of 19. Varane is equally good now as he was before having played against Barcelona.”

Varane has made 18 appearances in all competitions this season for Madrid, and was rewarded for his good form at club level with a call-up for France’s international friendly against Germany.