By Tim Stannard
1) Neymar pledges PSG future
Time for a bit of a giant media reverse with beep-beeping and hazard lights in full effect.
Neymar is going nowhere next summer except to Russia for the World Cup and no doubt a lengthy vacation in Brazil. His club boss says it, his manager says it, the footballer’s ‘people’ say it and heck, the football says it too. The player is ‘2000% percent’ going to be playing with PSG next season, whether the French club wins the Champions League or not. "I'm happy with my team-mates and I'm happy at PSG,” was Neymar’s message after Saturday’s 4-0 win over Montpellier.
So back off, Real Madrid and pack away any sneaky ideas in a bag marked, ‘not in a million years’.
One of the reasons is that the hidden puppet master of European football, Dani Alves – throwing rocks a both Juventus and Barcelona over the summer – says that the footballer is on the level of Lionel Messi, but needed to get out of the Argentinean’s technically small, but expansive shadow. “I just told him to follow his heart and be happy,” revealed Alves on his role in the Neymar deal in an interview published on Monday with FIFA’s official website. And the weekend’s assertion of a ‘never Ne-exit’ has Spanish paper AS reporting that Madrid have already given up the ghost on a Neymar deal.
By giddy chance, you can have another chance to see Neymar in action on Tuesday as PSG visit Stade Rennais in the semifinal of the Coupe de la Ligue – the action starts on beIN SPORTS at 3PM ET / 12PM PT.
2) Aubameyang nears Arsenal
While one big virtual move in the summer appears to have been road-blocked by the barrier of truth, another looks good with just three days to go until the closing of the winter transfer window.
That deal is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang moving to Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund. The striker could well be heading to London for a fee of around $85million. However, Dortmund are waiting until a replacement is found in the market, which might well be Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud.
Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte is set to travel to England on Monday to seal a deal with Manchester City, a club that will trigger the buyout clause of $80 million. If fact, another incoming Premier League deal could see Tottenham signing PSG winger Lucas Moura for around $28 million.
Tune into the XTRA on Monday at 7PM ET / 4PM PT for the world-famous Transfer Tracker. Only three left to go! Eeek!
3) Pique promises to be a titan of trolls
The shy and retiring Gerard Pique was up before the media on Monday talking about…pretty much everything – trolling Espanyol, Real Madrid, the nation of Spain, political ambitions, being President of FC Barcelona. But the one overriding theme of a virtuoso performance in the Catalan capital is that he does not regret for a single second being…a polemical figure. And nor should he, or the whole football world would be Luca Modric. No offense, Luca.
“I don’t regret never hiding away. Everyone has defects,” admitted the Barcelona stopper, “but I feel that I have improved in a lot of ways, but there is a lot left to work on.” Pique was out before the media masses to celebrate a new deal with Barcelona until 2022. And you can catch him in action next on beIN SPORTS on Thursday at 3:25PM ET / 12:25PM PT as Barca takes on a semifinal Copa del Rey clash with Valencia.
And as a bit of a tip, tune into the Locker Room on Monday at 7.30PM ET / 4.30PM PT to see if the panel feel that Barcelona had a bit of a helping hand – quite literally – in Sunday’s win against Alaves.
4) Miami expects news over Beckham MLS bid
The city of Miami is all a tingle on Monday as an announcement over the future of the MLS franchise in the city is expected, after a good 85 years of waiting. David Beckham is going to be at a special event and so will beIN SPORTS. Tune into the XTRA at 7PM ET as our Kevin Egan sits down with the living legend to talk through the next steps – whatever they may be.
LA Galaxy are also in the news on Monday with rumors of a move for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the club once the EPL season is over. King Zlatan is set to make a return from injury for the Old Trafford club.
And the wacky world of sports entertainment blew up the internet on Sunday night with Ronda Rousey wondering into the ring at the WWE Royal Rumble, standing awkwardly for a bit, pointing, trying to act and then revealing that she is quitting UFC for WWE. “This is not a smash-and-grab; this is not a publicity stunt,” said Rousey after the publicity stunt.
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