Neymar Transfer Saga Continues as Report Explains Real Madrid Meetings

To call the summer a tumultuous one for Neymar would be to call Monday the worst day of the week – glaringly obvious. 

After all, Neymar’s tumults were played out for public attention all summer long. But were they played out in full? Of course not. Even with the microscopic eye for content the football world now has, there remains an underbelly of secret talks and dealings.

Neymar Jr

A report Marca now claims to shed further light on the state of mind of the Brazilian during those trying months. 

As per the publication, it is understood that between 1 August and 20 August, ?Neymar and his representatives held a number of talks with high-profile players at Real Madrid in an attempt to get a deal over the line. 

These players included captain Sergio Ramos, who praised of the player’s abilities, alongside compatriots Casemiro and Marcelo, who were understandably eager to give Neymar a warm welcome, with Ballon d’Or holder Luka Modric also involved. 

The principal message of those conversations was essentially his desire to join Real, and an attempt to pass it on to gain some credibility and influence.

As for the club, they are understood to have done a great deal of analysis over the potential for a transfer, while assessing who they could sell to get it over the line. This all happened, according to Marca, with the ‘knowledge’ of PSG’s sporting director Leonardo.


Florentino Perez is known to have been somewhat hesitant and thought the cost of the deal would end up being too much but he did acknowledge the player’s quality and was not dismissing the move out of hand.

Ultimately, of course, unwanted high earners like Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez were not shifted, and on 20 August the club officially told their French counterparts that they would not be submitting an offer, sparking panic from the player, who turned back to Barcelona without success.

More recently, the ?Brazilian picked up an injury on international duty and will be out of action for the next four weeks.

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The Current Leaders of Europe’s Top 20 Leagues

?Around Europe, there are some utterly fascinating title races beginning to unfold, and there is fantastic football to be seen wherever you look.

The more popular leagues often dominate the headlines, but there are stories to be told from all of Europe’s major leagues, with teams all vying for a place in next season’s Champions League.

Here are the current standings of Europe’s top 20 leagues, as dictated by UEFA’s current ?league rankings.


La Liga – Real Madrid

Eden Hazard

Crisis? What crisis?

Despite a rocky start to the ?La Liga season, ?Real Madrid currently occupy top spot, and they are actually unbeaten in their eight games to date.

If this is ‘the worst Real team in years’, Los Blancos fans must be fairly satisfied. You’d think.


?Premier League – Liverpool

Mohamed Salah,Roberto Firmino

This season, nobody in the ?Premier League has come close to ?Liverpool.?

The Reds deservedly sit atop the standings thanks to eight wins from as many games, with Jurgen Klopp’s men looking to lift that elusive league title.

So far, so good.


Bundesliga – Borussia Mönchengladbach

Marcus Thuram,Breel Embolo

No, that’s not a typo. ?Bayern Munich actually aren’t top of the ?Bundesliga.

Instead, that honour goes to Marco Rose’s Borussia Mönchengladbach, who truly have been the surprise package of the season so far.

Maintaining their lead is not going to be easy, but getting to the top in the first place wasn’t supposed to be straightforward either.


Serie A – Juventus

Paulo Dybala

Once again, it’s ?Juventus who find themselves top of the ?Serie A, but it hasn’t all been plain sailing for them this year.

I Bianconeri’s performances have been good, but they find themselves locked in a battle for top spot with Antonio Conte’s ?Inter, who have looked like a side reborn since the Italian’s arrival.

Will it be nine league titles in a row for Juventus, or will someone else spoil the party?


?Ligue 1 – Paris Saint-Germain

Mauro Icardi

Paris Saint-Germain have not been overly dominant so far this year, but they have still fought their way to top spot in France.

There are plenty of teams who are battling to keep pace with Thomas Tuchel’s men, so PSG know they can ill-afford to take their foot off of the gas pedal.

Les Parisiens are fighting for their third consecutive league title, and their seventh in eight seasons.


?Premier Liga – Lokomotiv Moscow

Vedran Corluka

After falling short against Zenit Saint Petersburg last season, Lokomotiv Moscow are trying to go one step further this time around.

There are four teams currently sat on the same points tally, but Lokomotiv’s goal difference sees them occupy top spot.

Their goalscoring saviour? None other than former ?West Bromwich Albion midfielder ?Grzegorz Krychowiak. Right then. Ok.


Liga NOS – Famalicão

Ruben Lameiras

Undoubtedly one of the biggest feel-good stories from around Europe this season has been in Portugal’s Liga NOS.

Newly promoted Famalicão have fired their way to the top of the standings and into ?90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings. The minnows have won seven of their eight games and are undefeated so far.

The highlight of their run was a 2-1 win over Sporting CP, and fans across Europe are hoping to see their form continue.


Pro League – Club Brugge

Emmanuel Bonaventure

Every year, there are plenty of sides in with a shout of winning Belgium’s Pro League. With Vincent Kompany’s Anderlecht deciding not to bother this season, there’s room for even more contenders to join in the fun.

2017/18 champions Club Brugge currently find themselves in first place, having enjoyed an unbeaten start to the campaign.

They’re also unbeaten in the ?Champions League, and they were a matter of seconds from stealing three points away from Real Madrid.


Eredivisie – Ajax

FBL-NED-EREDIVISIE-THE HAGUE-AMSTERDAM

As we have come to expect, it’s a straight shoot-out at the top of the Eredivisie? between Ajax and PSV Eindhoven, but it’s Erik ten Hag’s men who have the advantage right now thanks to their superior goal difference.

Dusan Tadic, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and new signing Quincy Promes have all been in scorching form this season, and this title race promises to be one of the most exciting around.

Ajax are looking to win back-to-back titles for the first time since the 2013/14.


Premier Liga – Shakhtar Donetsk

FBL-EUR-C1-ATALANTA-SHAKHTAR

Obviously it’s still early in the season, but the race for the Premier Liga title in Ukraine seems all but over.

Shakhtar Donetsk’s dominance doesn’t look to be coming to an end any time soon, because they have already opened up a huge lead over the rest of the competition.

Will it be four titles in a row for the Miners?


?Süper Lig – Alanyaspor

Yacine Bammou

With no runaway leaders this year, the Turkish? Süper Lig really is up for grabs.

However, with the heavy hitters struggling to impress, it’s Alanyaspor who have taken advantage and fired themselves to the top of the table.

There are so many teams hovering around the upper end of the table, so there could still be plenty of twists and turns before this season is over.


Austrian Bundesliga – Red Bull Salzburg

FBL-EUR-C1-SALZBURG-GENK

Austrian football has attracted plenty the interest of fans across Europe this season thanks to the emergence of young ?Erling Håland, who has been scoring goals for fun.

It should come as no surprise to hear that ?Håland’s side, Red Bull Salzburg, are comfortable leaders in the Bundesliga.

Their teenage sensation has been in outrageous form this year, but Salzburg are far more than just a one-man team, as Champions League sides are quickly figuring out.


Fortuna Liga – Slavia Prague

Peter Olayinka

After a long spell away from the Czech Fortuna Liga title, Slavia Prague finally got their hands back on the trophy last season, and they are on track to defend it this year.

Drawn in the Champions League alongside ?Barcelona, Inter and ?Borussia Dortmund, Slavia might have to make do with domestic glory this year.

However, with a number of exciting players in their ranks, expect to see their name involved in Europe’s most prestigious competition next season as well.


?Superliga – Midtjylland

Runners-up for the last two seasons, Midtjylland are looking to take that next step towards glory in the Danish Superliga.

Their run of ten games without defeat was a perfect way to start the season and, even though that streak may have come to an end, Midtjylland still look good value for their lead.

Copenhagen are not far behind, so this title race is one to keep an eye on.


?Super League – Olympiacos

Daniel Podence

Olympiacos saw their run of seven consecutive Super League titles come to an end in 2018, so they are looking to get their hands on the trophy once more.

As Greece’s most successful side in history, they are often the favourite to win it all, but they are still locked in a battle with the numerous sides around them in the table.

There’s a lot of football left to be played, but it’s looking good for Olympiacos.


First Division – Anorthosis Famagusta

Cast your eyes over to Cyprus and you’ll see Anorthosis Famagusta sit atop the First Division table.

They found themselves locked in a relegation battle last season, but they have clawed their way to the top of the table at this early stage in the season.

Teams have games in hand over others in the league, so the final standings in the First Division are far from a certainty.


?Serbian SuperLiga – Red Star Belgrade

FBL-C1-EUR-CRVENA-ZVEZDA-OLYMPIACOS

Red Star Belgrade were the runaway winners of the Serbian SuperLiga in the last two seasons, and they are eager to make it three in a row this year.

Vojvodina are not far behind, but Red Star’s impressive defence has been enough to see them climb into top spot.

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Regulars in the Champions League group stage, expect to see their name in the competition even more over the coming years.


 1.HNL – Hajduk Split

As it stands, it’s Hajduk Split who sit at the summit of the 1.HNL in Croatia, but their lead is far from secure.

Dinamo Zagreb, who led for the opening weeks of the campaign, are incredibly close behind. With games in hand to consider, this league could go either way.

Hajduk were nowhere near the title picture last season, so this year could be theirs.


Scottish Premiership – Rangers

FBL-EUR-C3-RANGERS-FEYENOORD

Celtic aren’t having it their own way this season, and they recently lost their lead in the Scottish Premiership to Rangers.

As one of the fiercest rivalries around, you can guarantee that both teams are going to throw their all at this title race. Steven Gerrard’s men may have the advantage now, but whether they will be in the same position at the end of the year is a different question.

The Gers haven’t won the top title since 2011, and fans are desperate to see them end that dry streak at Celtic’s expense.


?Swiss Super League – Basel

FBL-EUR-C3-BASEL-KRASNODAR

Last but not least, we have the Swiss Super League. At the minute, it’s Basel at the top of the table.

Basel were humbled by runaway winners Young Boys last season, and they are clearly out looking for revenge.

With only a few points in it, it will certainly be interesting to see which way this title race eventually goes.


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!?

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Real Madrid Considering ‘Unique Opportunity’ to Sign Christian Eriksen in Cut-Price January Deal

??Real Madrid could agree a cut-price €25m deal for Tottenham playmaker Christian Eriksen in January, with a move for Napoli’s Fabian Ruiz likely to prove too expensive.

The Danish midfielder has been linked with a move from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium all summer long, with Eriksen having previously admitted that he’d like to sample a new challenge after six years in north London.

Christian Eriksen

Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid have been touted as a potential destination for months on end, though the speculation thus far has been purely that – speculation. However, Spanish publications ?Marca and AS offer a fresh update that claims Los Blancos could snare Eriksen on the cheap in January, as his contract is up in the summer.

He would represent an affordable, and immediate, alternative to other top target, Manchester United midfielder ?Paul Pogba – who the publication reiterate is Zidane’s preferred choice. But having spent around €300m in the summer transfer window, Real may have no choice but to pursue Eriksen instead.

Currently, Zidane only has four central midfield options to choose from – Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Casemiro and Federico Valverde – after sanctioning the permanent departures of Mateo Kovacic and Marcos Llorente to Chelsea and Atletico Madrid respectively, as well as the loan exits of Dani Ceballos and Martin Odegaard.

Napoli’s Fabian Ruiz and Ajax’s Donny van de Beek are also being considered as potential targets, but it’s reported that deals for either player will be too complicated to complete – and also too costly, given Real’s aforementioned outlay on the likes of Eden Hazard, Ferland Mendy and Luka Jovic.

An early recall for Norwegian prodigy Odegaard, currently on a two-year loan at Real Sociedad, is another option, but Real would prefer that the young Danish playmaker continues his education away from the Santiago Bernabeu limelight.

Pogba remains Real’s primary target, and Zidane’s in particular, but he may have to compromise and settle on a deal for Eriksen instead, given his more affordable market price.

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Euro 2020 Roundup: Bale Saves Wales, Wijnaldum Double, McGinn Hat-Trick, Belgium & Russia Qualify

Another eventful day of Euro 2020 qualifiers are out the way, and we’re starting to get a clearer idea of who will be heading to the summer’s showpiece event. 

Sunday’s action saw two more teams qualify, as Wales just about kept their hopes of making the finals alive and Scotland restored some pride thanks to a spectacular showing from John McGinn. 

Because we’re good to you, we’ve broken down all of tonight’s results in one place for your perusal… 


Belarus 1-2 Netherlands (Group C)

UEFA EURO 2020 qualifier group C"Belarus v The Netherlands"

It was a long way from pretty by Ronald Koeman’s men in Minsk, but if they’ve shown one thing in this qualification campaign so far, it’s a resolve to win games when they aren’t quite at their best – and that can take you a long way in international football.

They were hard-pushed against Northern Ireland on Thursday, a remarkable turnaround in the last ten minutes securing a 3-1 victory, and it all looked to be going swimmingly in Belarus when a terrific double from ?Liverpool’s Georginio WIjnaldum had them cruising at half-time.

As it happened, a second-half header from Stanislav Dragun made a game of it, but the Dutch were able to see it out and take another step towards qualification – something they will now achieve if they can overcome Michael O’Neill’s men in Belfast. 


Estonia 0-3 Germany (Group C)

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With the Netherlands winning the earlier game, the same was required from Germany if they were to move level on points with the group leaders and keep the pressure on ahead of the final round of fixtures next month. 

It proved to be far from straightforward against an Estonia side who had previously picked up just one point, and would have been sweating as they went into the break scoreless. However, in the end, the quality of the former world champions shone through, as strikes from Ilkay Gundogan (2) and Timo Werner made sure of the points. 

Read a ?full match report of Germany’s win here…


Hungary 1-0 Azerbaijan (Group E)

Istvan Kovacs,Bahlul Mustafazade,Gara Garayev

In Wales’ group, Hungary got things back on track after successive defeats to Slovakia and Croatia dented their qualification hopes, as they confidently brushed aside Azerbaijan – if only by a single goal. 

A strike from left-back Mihaly Korhut set the tone on ten minutes, and no second goal would be forthcoming, with the visitors opting to frustrate and play on the counter – but to no avail. The home side saw it out with minimal fuss, and on 12 points from their seven games, have put themselves in a really good position to qualify. 


Wales 1-1 Croatia (Group E)

Gareth Bale

Wales are still just about in with an opportunity of making the finals, but will need victories in their final two matches – and a helping hand from Croatia if they are to do it, after earning an admirable draw with the Croats on home turf. 

In a feisty atmosphere in Cardiff, a Gareth Bale equaliser on the stroke of half-time cancelled out Nikola Vlasic’s early opener to secure a share of the spoils for the home side. Croatia are almost there, but a disaster against Slovakia coupled with other results going against them could knock them out. 


Poland 2-0 North Macedonia (Group G)

Robert Lewandowski

Poland will be in the hat after a late show from substitutes Przemyslaw Frankowski and Arkadiusz Milik earned them a hard-fought victory against North Macedonia, whose own unlikely qualification hopes now hang by a thread. 

Both goals were assisted by one Robert Lewandowski, who yet again proved his value as his side’s go-to man for the big occasions. 


Slovenia 0-1 Austria (Group G)

Slovenia v Austria - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier

Austria, meanwhile, moved to within one win of the finals after right-back Stefan Posch earned them a victory in Slovenia. 

They sit five points ahead of their hosts and North Macedonia, both of whom will need to win their final two matches and pray for a favour from Latvia – who are yet to pick up a point – if they are to catch Matjaž Kek’s side.


Kazakhstan 0-2 Belgium (Group I)


Belgium made it eight wins from eight in what has been a routine qualification campaign for them so far, comfortably overcoming a sturdy Kazakhstan side thanks to strikes from Michy Batshuayi and Thomas Meunier. 

They rattled nine past San Marino on Thursday to make sure of qualification, but nonetheless, Roberto Martinez went full strength for this one. Eden Hazard combined tremendously with younger brother Thorgan down the left throughout a functional if unspectacular display, in which they netted their 29th and 30th goals of the campaign. 

Favourites for Euro 2020? Quite possibly.


Cyprus 0-5 Russia (Group I)

FBL-EURO-2020-QUALIFIER-CYP-RUS

The Belgians will be joined in the finals by Russia, who booked their passage thanks to an emphatic win in Cyprus inspired by Denis Cheryshev, who scored two and assisted two more in a masterful display. 

Having thumped Scotland on Thursday, they look in good shape heading into the finals and will do all they can to win the group when they face Belgium in their penultimate qualifier next month. 


Scotland 6-0 San Marino (Group I)

John McGinn

Scotland, meanwhile, had only pride to play for in a match that was effectively a friendly. Their resounding defeat against the Russians means their playoff in March is now their only opportunity to qualify for next summer’s games.

The remit was a big win to get the feel-good factor back at Hampden, however, and in a game that looked in jeopardy at one point due to the biblical weather conditions, they did just that. Aston Villa’s John McGinn netted a first-half hat-trick before Lawrence Shankland hit the net on his full debut. 

Goals from Stuart Findlay and Stuart Armstrong – the latter a stunning free-kick from the edge of the area after the San Marino keeper bizarrely handballed on the edge of the area – then put it to bed, and hinted at a step or two in the right direction for Steve Clarke’s men.

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A Way Too Early Assessment of Real Madrid’s Summer Signings

Despite sitting atop the table, there is already talk of Zinedine Zidane fighting to save his job at Real Madrid with rumours of old boss Jose Mourinho lurking in the background like a bad smell. 

Los Blancos made headlines over the summer window with multiple high-profile signings after a disappointingly trophy-free 2018/19, spending around £300m in search of old glory. 

However, not all have made an instant impact. Here’s a (very) early assessment of the club’s summer recruits.


?Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard arrived in the summer for a staggering £90m rising to £130m from Chelsea but has so far struggled to have the impact most would have expected from him. Having missed the first four games of La Liga football due to a hamstring injury, Hazard has only completed 90 minutes twice this season. 

Possibly due to a struggle for match sharpness, the Belgian has only been able to contribute one goal and one assist in all competitions, both coming in last week’s 4-2 win against Granada. As for the Champions League, Hazard was unable to impose himself on the game as Madrid were comfortably beaten 3-0 by Paris Saint-Germain and laboured to a 2-2 draw against Club Brugge. 

Real Madrid need Hazard to start coming up with more match-defining performances to begin to justify his marquee signing. 

Grade: C-


Luka Jovic

Luka Jovic

After an impressive season last year for Eintracht Frankfurt, finding the net 17 times in the Bundesliga, Jovic was snapped up by Real Madrid for around £53m shortly after making his move to the German side from Benfica permanent. 

As with Hazard, however, the young Serb has so far failed to have the influence expected of him, heading into the international break without a goal or assist to his name in all competitions. 

Jovic has so far only started two league games this season. He has struggled for game time, having completed 90 minutes once so far this season, with Karim Benzema preferred ahead of him to lead the line.

Should Jovic fail to score when Real arrive to face Real Mallorca on 19 October, it will be 63 days without a goal since his signing. ?No striker since the year 2000 has ever needed so many days to find the back of the net for Real.

Amazingly there has already been exit talk…

Grade: D


Eder Militao

Karim Benzema,Eder Militao

After a breakthrough season at Porto, Real Madrid parted ways with £45m to secure the signature of the highly rated Brazilian defender Eder Militao. 

Most likely viewed as a player for the future, the 21-year-old has so far only played three games in all competitions, playing the full 90 minutes in two of them. Currently sat behind Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, he is unlikely to displace either men for the time being, but will be expected to impress when called upon to deputise.

Militao is most likely seen as a player for the long term, so is gradual introduction is of less alarm than Jovic. 

Grade: B-


Ferland Mendy

Ferland Mendy

Frenchman Ferland Mendy joined Real Madrid from Lyons for £43m this summer after a stellar two years in Ligue 1. Unfortunately, the left back has so far struggled for match fitness, missing a total of five games so far this season as a result of a hamstring injury. 

Mendy has played the full 90 minutes three times this season, including the 3-0 defeat to PSG (where he was a rare bright spark) but has not been involved in the last three games as a result of a muscle injury. 

Tipped as the successor to the ageing Marcelo, Real Madrid need Mendy to stay fit if he is to hold down a place in Zidane’s new-look team.

Grade: C+


Rodrygo

Rodrygo Goes

Very much a signing for the future, 18-year-old winger Rodrygo was this summer’s Vinicius Junior, making the move from Santos to Real Madrid for £40m.

As expected, despite the price tag on his head, he has only played 19 minutes in the league this season. However, he did score his first for the club in a 2-0 win against Osasuna but will likely spend most of this season with the Real Madrid B team in Segunda División B.

Grade: B


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