Rapinoe Edges Modric, Neymar To Make Ballon D’Or Shortlist

 

While Megan Rapinoe is the leading candidate for the second ever women’s Ballon D’Or, the holder of the men’s award, Luka Modric, and the world’s most expensive player Neymar missed out as France Football unveiled nominees in four categories on Monday.

Modric, fresh from guiding Croatia to a World Cup final, broke the 11-year Cristiano Ronaldo-Lionel Messi, who are both included, stranglehold on the men’s award last year.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar, who cost the French club 222 million euros ($247 million) in 2017, failed to make the 30-man shortlist after a year overshadowed by injury, suspension and controversy for both club and country.

Messi has just collected the FIFA Best award, as did Rapinoe, which split from the Ballon D’Or in 2016.

Rapinoe dominated the Women’s World Cup, on and off the field, in the summer.

She was joint top scorer and was voted player of the tournament as she led the United States to victory in France in July.

The 34-year-old Reign FC playmaker, already a campaigner for LGBT rights and gender equality, made headlines during the tournament by publicly taking on US President Donald Trump.

Last year, Norwegian Ada Hegerberg was the first women’s winner.

The Lyon forward did not play in the World Cup but is among the 20 nominees as are stars who were present at the competition, such as Australia striker Sam Kerr, England’s Lucy Bronze and France captain Amandine Henry.

Virgil Van Dijk, 28, who has had an impressive six months with Liverpool lifting the Champions League, could become a rare defensive winner of the men’s award.

Fabio Cannavaro was the last defender to win in 2006, and only the fourth since the award began in 1956.

Another nominee, Kylian Mbappe, the top goal scorer in Ligue 1 last season, would represent a genuine change of the guard.

The Paris Saint-Germain striker is inelgible to defend his Kopa trophy for the best player under 21 last year as he celebrates his 21st birthday on December 20.

This year also sees the introduction of the Yashin trophy, named after the only goalkeeper to win the Ballon D’Or, Lev Yashin of the Soviet Union, to give that ignored minority a chance to get their hands on a prize of their own.

The award winners will be unveiled on December 2 during a ceremony in Paris after a voting process including journalists from 180 different countries.

AFP

Injured Neymar Out For Four Weeks

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar looks on during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and OGC Nice at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris.
Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

 

Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar will be out for four weeks with a hamstring injury he suffered playing for Brazil, the French club said on Monday.

Neymar limped off in the 12th minute on Sunday as Brazil drew 1-1 against Nigeria in a friendly in Singapore.

PSG said that an MRI scan showed that their star player had suffered “a grade two lesion” in his left hamstring.

If he is out until November 11, Neymar will miss four French league matches, including a trip to Marseille on October 27, and home and away Champions League games against Bruges.

The world’s most expensive player had been due to make his champions League return against Bruges next Tuesday after serving a two-match suspension.

This latest in a catalogue of injuries since joining PSG in 2017 came after a promising start to the season with four goals in five Ligue 1 matches.

Neymar Happy To Reach Brazil 100th Cap Milestone

Handout picture released by the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) showing Brazilian football star Neymar, who is to make his 100th appearance with the national team in a friendly match against Senegal, speaking during a press conference in Singapore on October 9, 2019. 
Lucas FIGUEIREDO / Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) / AFP

 

On the eve of his 100th international Brazilian appearance, striker Neymar spoke Wednesday about his committment to both his country and his club, Paris-Saint Germain.

Brazil face Senegal on Thursday in a friendly in Singapore and the Brazilian federation presented Neymar with a special shirt on Wednesday with the number 100 on the back instead of his customary 10.

“I’m happy in the national team and with my club too,” said Neymar, who tried to escape Paris and return to Barcelona in the summer.

“Everyone knows what happened during the last transfer window, my initial desires, but today I’m happy and I feel comfortable in my club.”

“The season has started well for me. I’m going to defend my club tooth and nail,” said the 27-year-old who has struggled with foot injuries during his time in Paris. “I will give 100% so that we can do great things.”

The shirt was presented by Bebeto, a striker who played 75 times for Brazil, appearing in two World Cup finals, winning the first in 1994.

“I’m happy to reach this number,” said Neymar. “The results are very positive, even if a footballer’s life is not all about winning. There are also many disappointments, defeats. You make mistakes.”

Neymar has scored 61 goals in 99 games for the Selecao, making him the third highest scorer in the history of his national team. He is one behind Ronaldo but needs 16 to catch Pele.

He won an Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 but has experienced many disappointments, particularly at the World Cup.

In 2014, in Brazil, a back injury in the quarter-finals against Colombia prevented him from being on the field during the 7-1 semi-final debacle against Germany.

AFP

‘I’ll Give My Life To PSG,’ Says Neymar

File Photo: Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

 

Brazilian superstar Neymar pledged Saturday to “give my life to PSG” after his goal kept the French giants top of Ligue 1 with a 1-0 win at Bordeaux.

Neymar, the world’s most expensive footballer, had been strongly linked to a return to Barcelona over a tumultuous summer.

However, in an attempt to win over PSG fans, many of whom have become unconvinced by the player’s attachment to the French capital, Neymar has looked a rejuvenated figure, scoring for a third time this season.

“I’m very happy to be able to help PSG, it’s better with the fans,” he said.

“It’s like with your girlfriend, one moment you’re bad, but with hugs and a lot of love, it’s better.

“I am here to give my life to PSG. They are my team, my goal is to help my club, to continue to score goals.”

On Saturday, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar played together for the first time this season and combined for the only goal in Bordeaux.

Mbappe, who had been out injured since August 25, started on the bench but, with PSG struggling for a breakthrough, came on after an hour.

The Parisian attack immediately gained a more menacing edge.

Both Mbappe, with a shot, and Neymar, with a header, went close before combining to open the scoring for the game’s only goal in the 70th minute.

Mbappe outpaced the Bordeaux defence on the right. His precise low cross presented Neymar with a tap in at the far post.

“The most important thing is that these goals are decisive, in tight matches, that’s why I’m here,” added Neymar.

“It’s obviously a pleasure to link up with Kylian again. He came back with his smile and with his football talent,” he added.

– Mbappe’s Neymar ‘admiration’ –
French World Cup winner Mbappe said he was delighted to link-up again with Neymar although he admits their partnership remains a work in progress.

“There are things that have been said, but we have always had a relationship based on honesty and admiration,” said Mbappe.

The last time Mbappe and Neymar had appeared together was in the French Cup final last April, a match which ended in defeat.

As Bordeaux pressed, Mbappe and PSG began to carve open the home defence.

He burst through on his own, but goalkeeper Benoit Costil anticipated the chip.

Then Costil again reacted quickly, diving at Angel Di Maria’s feet as the Argentine ran onto Mbappe’s angled through ball.

PSG, who had suffered a shock 2-0 loss to Reims on Wednesday, survived a late video review for a potential Bordeaux penalty to recapture first place.

Angers are second in the table after a 1-1 draw with Amiens.

Nantes, also two points off the pace, had briefly moved to the top when they won 1-0 win at Lyon earlier in the day.

Lyon had the best of the chances but conceded the only goal in freakish fashion just before the hour.

As Samuel Moutoussamy broke into the home area, left-back Fernando Marcal slid in and attempted to poke the ball out for a corner. Instead, it struck his other leg and looped over goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and into the goal.

As the home fans whistled their team, the Lyon players appeared increasingly lost, although the brilliance of Nantes goalkeeper Alban Lafont was a major factor in their failure.

For Nantes, it was a first win at Lyon since December 1996.

Monaco’s revival continued when a 4-1 home win over Brest allowed them to move into 12th spot.

Monaco have now taken seven points from their last three league games.

Neymar, Barcelona Lawyers Seek End To Contract Dispute

Brazilian forward Neymar’s lawyers Rodrigo Garcia Lucas (L) and German Martinez Ferrando from Laffer firm, arrive to the court of Ciutat de la Justicia on September 27, 2019, in Barcelona, for a hearing in a case against Neymar’s former club Barcelona FC. PHOTO: PAU BARRENA / AFP

Lawyers for Brazilian footballer Neymar and Spanish champions Barcelona were meeting on Friday in a last-ditch effort to untangle a contract dispute and avert a multi-million-dollar court battle.

Neymar, the world’s most expensive footballer, quit Barcelona in 2017 and joined Paris Saint-Germain in a stunning coup for the French club.

The move angered the Spanish giants who filed a complaint for breach of contract against the 27-year-old superstar who had pledged loyalty to the Spanish club by signing a new deal just one year earlier.

Neymar arrived in Barcelona Thursday ahead of the court hearing set for 10:00 am (0800 GMT) Friday but was not seen with his lawyers for a pre-hearing reconciliation meeting aimed at resolving the dispute without a court hearing.

“The reconciliation meeting was suspended and will resume at 11:45 am with lawyers from both sides seeking a solution,” a court spokesman said.

The dispute stems from Neymar’s shock transfer to PSG for a world record 222 million euros ($250 million at the time), less than a year after signing a contract that would have kept him at the Spanish club until 2021.

Barcelona filed suit and refused to pay him 26 million euros, which were part of his contract renewal bonus.

After an unsuccessful appeal to world footballing body FIFA, the young Brazilian quickly hit back with a lawsuit over the unpaid bonus.

 ‘The taxman watching’

Although the full sum of the bonus has never been clear, Neymar received an initial payout and was to have received the rest in instalments over the course of his new contract.

The Spanish club is demanding he return the part of the loyalty bonus already received as well as 8.5 million euros plus interest in compensation for breach of contract.

Neymar promptly filed a countersuit demanding payment of the 26 million euros with interest.

According to El Mundo daily, the case is being closely watched by the Spanish tax authorities who are keen to know whether Neymar, who was a tax resident in 2017, paid his dues on both the bonus and his transfer to PSG.

Back in March, Neymar’s public relations agency, NR Sports, admitted the tax authorities had requested documents but insisted the player was not the subject of a new tax investigation in Spain.

The young striker has been beset by legal problems since his arrival in Europe in 2013 following his move to the Catalan club from Brazil’s Santos.

Barca valued the transfer at 57.1 million euros but Spanish prosecutors believe the amount paid was at least 83.3 million, trigging a string of legal cases in both countries, some of which remain unresolved.

And since transferring to PSG, things have not been any easier.

In the last few months, the superstar who has a huge social media following, found himself facing a rape allegation, which was dropped in August, and an assault charge for hitting a fan after PSG’s shock defeat in April’s French Cup final.

AFP

Neymar’s PSG Champions League Suspension Reduced To Two Games

FILES) In this file photo taken on May 4, 2019 Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar looks on during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and OGC Nice at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. PHOTO: Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

 

Neymar’s Champions League ban for insulting match officials on social media has been reduced from three games to two following an appeal, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled on Tuesday.

The world’s most expensive player will miss the fixtures against Real Madrid on Wednesday and Galatasaray in two weeks’ time due to the original ban from UEFA but will now be free to face Belgian side Bruges on October 22.

The Brazilian criticised the referee and his assistants after Paris Saint-Germain’s last-16 collapse against Manchester United in March which he watched from the stands due to injury.

AFP

Neymar Jeered, Insulted By Angry Fans On Return To PSG Team

 

Neymar was loudly jeered and met with a barrage of insults by Paris Saint-Germain fans on Saturday as he made his first appearance for the club in four months in their Ligue 1 game at home to Strasbourg.

The world’s most expensive player’s name was booed by supporters when the teams were read out at the Parc des Princes, and his first touches of the ball were also whistled.

The Brazilian was also greeted with loud chants in Spanish aimed at his mother. A banner briefly unfurled at one end of the ground in Portuguese, aimed at Neymar’s father who is also his agent, read: “Neymar Senior, sell your son in the Vila Mimosa”.

Vila Mimosa is a district of Rio de Janeiro known for prostitution.

Neymar had not played for PSG in four months having spent the close season trying to push through a return to his former club Barcelona, two years after moving in the opposite direction.

The transfer window closed on September 2, bringing the saga to an end.

The 27-year-old has since been away on international duty for Brazil in two friendly matches in the United States, scoring one goal and making another in a 2-2 draw with Colombia and then coming on as a substitute in a 1-0 loss to Peru.

Those were his first appearances this season after he was left out of PSG’s opening four league games amid the uncertainty over his future.

Neymar is suspended for PSG’s opening Champions League game against Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Neymar Scores Injury-Time Winner As PSG Beat Strasbourg

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar celebrates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Racing Club de Strasbourg Alsace (RCS) on September 14, 2019 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. Martin BUREAU / AFP

 

Neymar marked his return to action for Paris Saint-Germain for the first time in four months with a stunning overhead kick in injury time that gave his team a 1-0 win over Strasbourg on Saturday.

The world’s most expensive player, resigned to another season in France after failing to get the move back to Barcelona he so desired, had been given a hostile reception by angry PSG fans throughout the match at the Parc des Princes.

However, his acrobatic effort in the 92nd minute broke the deadlock and gave PSG a 1-0 win as they stay top of the Ligue 1 table.

PSG Ready For Neymar Return Ahead Of Champions League Campaign

 

With the saga over his on-off move back to Barcelona now over, Neymar could return to action with Paris Saint-Germain this weekend.

The world’s most expensive player has had to come to terms with a third season in Ligue 1 after PSG and his former club failed to agree terms on a transfer before the transfer window shut on September 2.

Neymar has since been away on international duty for Brazil in two friendly matches in the USA, scoring one goal and making another in a 2-2 draw with Colombia and then coming on as a substitute in a 1-0 loss to Peru.

Those were his first appearances this season after the 27-year-old was left out of PSG’s opening four league games amid the uncertainty over his future.

READ ALSO: ‘I Would Be Thrilled If Neymar Came Back To Barcelona,’ Says Messi

If he is passed fit after a long trip back across the Atlantic, coach Thomas Tuchel may choose to select Neymar in Saturday’s game against Strasbourg, the team against whom he suffered a fractured foot in a cup tie back in January.

PSG are already without Kylian Mbappe, who has a hamstring injury, as they prepare to start their Champions League campaign at home to Real Madrid next week. Edinson Cavani is also struggling for fitness.

Argentine striker Mauro Icardi is available after joining from Inter, but Tuchel may be tempted to turn to Neymar, even though the Brazilian is suspended for the game against Real and seems unlikely to receive a warm welcome from fans unhappy with his posturing for a transfer.

“He knows that he has made mistakes, but he has no bad intentions,” said his club and international colleague Thiago Silva. “He is an incredible kid. I hope he has a great season.”

Even Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has had her say, urging Neymar to get his head down and help PSG finally succeed in Europe.

“We turned the Eiffel Tower red and white for him, in the colours of PSG,” she told magazine Tele Loisirs.

“Now my boy, we love you a lot, and you are going to have to work hard and win us the Champions League.”

One to watch: The stands

French football has been consumed by its battle to eradicate homophobia from stadiums, so all eyes will be on the stands this weekend to see if more matches will be halted by referees.

Seven games have been interrupted so far this season because of anti-gay chants and banners, including a hold-up of more than 10 minutes during a match between Nice and Marseille.

The last week has seen French Football Federation president Noel Le Graet enter into a war of words with the country’s sports minister, former Olympic swimmer Roxana Maracineanu, after saying in a radio interview that stopping matches in such circumstances was “a mistake”.

On Wednesday the French league (LFP) called on politicians to let them get on with leading the fight against homophobia, while insisting that referees will be left to decide whether to stop matches if they hear “discriminatory” words from the stands.

“For a long time we have tolerated certain chants in stadiums, but today society no longer accepts them,” said LFP president Nathalie Boy de la Tour.

Key stats

53 – The number of league goals scored by Florian Thauvin for Marseille in the last three seasons. This week the French World Cup-winning winger was ruled out until January as he requires ankle surgery.

876 – In millions of dollars, the amount made by French top-flight clubs during the summer transfer window, more than any other league worldwide, according to analysis by FIFA.

7 – Lille are back in the Champions League group stage for the first time in seven years. Before visiting Ajax next midweek, they play Angers in the French league on Friday.

Fixtures (GMT)

Friday

Lille v Angers (1700), Amiens v Lyon (1845)

Saturday

Paris Saint-Germain v Strasbourg (1530), Bordeaux v Metz, Brest v Rennes, Dijon v Nimes, Montpellier v Nice (all 1800)

Sunday

Nantes v Reims (1300), Saint-Etienne v Toulouse (1500), Monaco v Marseille (1900).

‘I Would Be Thrilled If Neymar Came Back To Barcelona,’ Says Messi

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi would be “thrilled” if Neymar returned to the Catalan side but insisted they could still win trophies without the Brazilian. 

In an interview with the Catalan newspaper Sport this week, Messi said the return of Neymar, who was at Barca from 2013 and 2017 when he left for Paris Saint-Germain, could only strengthen the Spanish champions.

“I would be thrilled if Neymar came back,” said the Argentine.

“I understand that not everyone agrees. That’s normal after everything that happened around Ney, the way in which he left, the way he abandoned us.

“But when you look at the sporting angle, for me Neymar is one of the best players in the world and obviously would improve our chances of getting the results we want.”

The summer transfer window saw an on-off soap opera surrounding the 27-year-old’s apparent desire to leave PSG, who paid a world record 222 million euros ($264 million at the time) in 2017, with Barcelona and Real Madrid both linked.

Ultimately he stayed in the French capital, at least for the time being.

“I am not disappointed,” said Messi. “I would have liked it if he had come and been with us but, as I have said, we have an exceptional squad to challenge for every title, even without him.”

Messi denied reports he had used his influence to try and force the Barcelona board to push through the deal.

“Here, it is not me that gives the orders,” he said. “We never said that he had to be brought in. We didn’t make any demands.”

“I don’t know if the club (Barcelona) wanted it to happen. What I do know is that Neymar really wanted it. But I understand it is very difficult to negotiate with PSG.”

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said on Friday Neymar “did everything” to force through a return to the Camp Nou in the close season, but his club could “not meet” the French champions’ demands.

AFP

Neymar Rape Accuser Charged With Extortion

Brazilian football star Neymar reacts as he plays in a five-a-side football tournament for his charity Neymar Junior Project Institute, in Praia Grande, Sao Paulo, Brazil, on July 13, 2019. Miguel SCHINCARIOL / AFP

 

Police in Sao Paulo said Tuesday they will bring extortion and slander charges against a Brazilian model who accused football star Neymar of rape.

Najila Trindade filed a rape complaint with Sao Paulo police upon her return from a trip to Paris in May in which she said she was assaulted by Neymar following a pre-arranged meeting.

A judge dismissed the case in August, citing insufficient evidence.

Instead, Sao Paulo prosecutors said in a statement that investigators had found “indications of slanderous denunciation and extortion” in the woman’s accusation.

A final decision on whether to prosecute Trindade will be left to a judge.

Neymar, the world’s most expensive footballer, has always protested his innocence, saying their relations were consensual.

The case complicated an already tumultuous year for the 27-year-old Brazil star, who has yet to play for his club Paris Saint-Germain this season following injury and reports of an aborted return to previous club Barcelona.

On Friday, Neymar played his first game since suffering an ankle injury in June, grabbing a second-half equalizer for Brazil in a 2-2 friendly draw with Colombia.

AFP

Neymar To Stay At PSG

PSG’s Brazilian forward Neymar attends a training session in Ooredoo training center in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on August 29, 2019. Martin BUREAU / AFP

 

Neymar is to stay at Paris Saint-Germain after seeing his desired transfer back to Barcelona fail, according to press reports Sunday.

“Se queda,” Spanish for he’s staying, read the L’Equipe headline on its front page with a photo of the Brazilian.

“Faced with the impossibility of completing his transfer to Barcelona, Neymar had informed his entourage he has decided to end the season at PSG,” the daily said.

READ ALSO: Liverpool Record 13th Straight Premier League Win At Burnley

Spanish sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo carried similar news, which comes just ahead of the transfer market deadlines in France and Spain on Monday.

“Neymar’s entourage admit it: it’s finished,” it said.

Neymar, 27, became the world’s most expensive player when PSG paid 222 million euros ($264 million at the time) for his transfer from Barcelona two years ago.

A scorer of 51 goals in 58 appearances in his two seasons in the French capital, Neymar has not featured at all for his club this season amid the uncertainty surrounding his future.

He trained with PSG on Thursday, but coach Thomas Tuchel omitted him from the team that beat Metz 2-0 in Ligue 1 action on Friday.

Efforts to negotiate a suitably lucrative transfer back to Barcelona have seemingly floundered, with PSG sporting director Leonardo saying Friday there was “no agreement. It depends on Barcelona”.

Madrid sports newspaper Marca said: “Barcelona neither have the financial muscle to meet PSG’s demands nor have the French side been in any rush to do the Catalans any favours.”

Failure to sign Neymar will likely leaves a lot of damage to repair between Neymar and PSG, Barcelona’s board and the fans, and Barcelona players who  were offered to PSG as part of a potential deal.

“The bomb was deactivated at the last minute but the trail of burnt fuse has left cracks in the ground, cracks in many relationships,” Marca said.

“The failure of his signing leaves many of the characters involved affected, with wounds that won’t just be healed with a plaster. These characters will have to go again from Tuesday as if nothing had ever happened.”

AS, which is also based in Madrid, said a swoop for Neymar by Real Madrid could not be discounted.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane said on Saturday there could be “one or two surprises” before the Monday transfer deadline.

“As for any possible last-minute arrivals, the club ruled out the arrival of Neymar a couple of days ago but with the Brazilian you never know,” AS said.

“The latest information yesterday (Saturday) was that he would not be joining Barcelona and it is not impossible that Madrid could make a late entry into the bidding.”

Mundo Deportivo, which is based in Barcelona, said Neymar staying at PSG was only postponing his return to the Camp Nou.

“His idea is still to leave the PSG and return to Barca, where he played between 2013 and 2017, when he decided to pay his contract termination clause of 222 million and fly to Paris, a manouevre he regretted very quickly as has been shown,” the paper said.

“Players at Barcelona, who remain his friends, already know that this is only a postponement.”

AFP