Diving for pearls
Neymar is an inveterate diver whose antics should be scrutinised and punished by referees, says Uruguayan skipper Diego Lugano, on the eve of the sides Confederations Cup semi-final meeting.
The striker has earned a reputation in his homeland for simulation and he has shown that tendency again during this month’s tournament in Brazil, most notably for the ‘foul’ which led to his curling free-kick in the 4-2 win over Italy.
“Neymar can feign a foul and so we must be watchful that nobody is fooled by his ability,” Lugano told reporters. “Neymar is very lightweight, he can drop to the ground and fool the referee and rivals.
“Brazil is a team that has abandoned the beautiful game, they hit hard and they are very tough physically.
“I have played here and it is perhaps the toughest football in Latin America and it is a tactical system they apply.”
Here’s a compilation of Neymar’s misdemeanours. One has to admire the sheer variety of his dives. If he stayed on his feet a bit more, the claims to greatness would not seem quite so fanciful.
While the South American sides face each other in what promises to be a heated encounter in Belo Horizonte, 100,000 people are expected to take to the streets in the south eastern city to continue their protest about the money being spent on staging next year’s World Cup.
It is just the latest in a number of demonstrations, which have filled the country’s cities in recent days, and, with it being a holiday in the capital of Minas Gerais, authorities are expecting the largest turnout so far.
Though largely peaceful, there have been a number of outbreaks of violence across the country. Despite Wednesday’s demonstration being planned as a a peaceful protest, concerns have been raised after its organizers said on social networking sites they expect people to wear items including a long-sleeved shirt, pants, gloves, goggles and a handkerchief to cover their face.
The latest demonstrations come after Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s attempted to defuse the discontent by proposing a referendum on political reforms. The move was seen as a bid to bypass the country’s unpopular Congress with an appeal to the people. Legal experts said that was unconstitutional.
Act in haste
Matts Hummels cannot understand why Mario Gotze chose to leave Borussia Dortmund for Bayern Munich and he feels there are no “sporting reasons” to switch to their Bundesliga rivals.
The attacking midfielder will start the 2013-14 campaign at the Bundesliga champions as Bayern triggered his 37 million euro buyout clause.
“I do not understand Gotze’s decision and I have told him just that. Everybody at Dortmund was surprised. This only further shows that this was never an issue,” Hummels told Sport Bild. “Everybody can see how good our team has become. I simply do not believe that there were any sporting reasons to leave BVB.
“It was clear to see that the team had really made steps forward and Mario got along with all of us very well. That’s why it annoyed me so much that he felt it was necessary to leave at such an early stage of his career.”
Gotze, 21, is a product of the Dortmund youth academy and played an integral role in its Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012.
Goal of the day
Colombia’s Juan Fernando Quintero skips past one challenge before unleashing a powerful left-footed strike into the roof of the net in his side’s World Under-20 win over hosts Turkey.
Quote of the day
“Cisse? No, it is out of the question. I don’t want a guy who plays DJ in bars.”
Montpellier chairman Louis Nicollin rules out a move for QPR striker Djibril Cisse
Going, going, gone…
Manchester City and Juventus have agreed a €9m deal for Carlos Tevez that could be worth up to £27m to the Premier League outfit when saved wages and bonuses are taken into account.
Tevez has still to agree personal terms and talks will take place between the player’s representatives and Juventus on Wednesday, so there is no guarantee of a deal being struck. Not least when one considers the 29-year-old’s current pay package of £198,000 a week.
Although the fee is €9m for Tevez, this should rise to a minimum of €12m as a clause in the contract gives City an extra €1m a year for three years should Juventus qualify for the Champions League in each of those seasons. An additional clause awards City €1m for every season Juventus win either the Champions League or Serie A over the course of Tevez’s contract, meaning the total transfer fee could end as high as €15m.
City will recoup a further total of £17m in saved wages and bonuses, meaning that, if Tevez does agree to the move, they will make a saving of about £27m which they can reinvest in the squad.
Ferran Soriano, the City chief executive, and the director of football, Txiki Begiristain, met the Juventus hierarchy in London on Tuesday to thrash out a deal that has been approved by the new manager, Manuel Pellegrini.
For City the desire to be rid of such a divisive figure is understandable. The financial saving will be huge and the departure of a man who effectively went AWOL less than two years ago will be welcomed by supporters and team-mates alike, most of whom will have been dismayed at the contempt displayed to them.
Savings on wages: £27 million; peace of mind now that he’s gone: priceless.
Speaking of players missing in action, Shakhtar Donetsk’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan has still not turned up after failing to report to their pre-season training camp in Austria.
Amid reports that the Armenian is trying to force a move to Liverpool, Shakhtar have now confirmed they have received a bid from Borussia Dortmund. The bid is worth £19.5m,which falls some way short of the £25m demanded by the Ukrainian champions.
Shakhtar’s chief executive Sergei Palkin told Terrikon: “I don’t know where Mkhitaryan is, now; solely his agent knows this.
“Borussia offered $30m (£19.5m) for the midfielder. I contacted Mkhitaryan’s agent yesterday. I wrote to him about the official position of the club.
“We are prepared to sell Mkhitaryan for €30m (£25m). This offer stands for the next 10 days. If Mkhitaryan wishes to leave, they have to pay this amount for him.”
After failing to report for training at Shakhtar, Mkhitaryan reportedly resurfaced in a London hotel after a photo claiming to be the player appeared online on Tuesday evening.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has confirmed that he expects Cristiano Ronaldo to stay with the club next season, amid rumours that the forward might be returning to Manchester United.
Ronaldo joined Madrid for a world record £80million from Manchester United, and there are some reports linking him with a return to Old Trafford this summer.
However, Perez still feels that Ronaldo will put pen to paper on a new deal, and end his career in the Spanish capital.
“He’s our most important asset, and we will build the future of Madrid around him,” he said.
“Soon we will clarify this issue. I have no doubt that Cristiano is going to retire at Real Madrid. I’m convinced that he’ll renew. The renewals are done before the season starts.”
Perez explained why he hoped Ronaldo would commit himself to a new deal with the club – it would boost replica shirt sales.
“I try to make it that the best players in the world play for Madrid,” he added.
“Players are never expensive or cheap. It depends on the performances that they provide. (Luis) Figo, (Zinedine) Zidane, Ronaldo and (David) Beckham gave us a massive jump in income. If you invest in great players, you will have more income.
“That allows, firstly, the club to be independent and in the hands of the members, and, secondly, to attract other great players.
“We want great footballers who work hard and understand this club and its history. Those that know me, know I always want the best to come to Madrid.”
Carlo Ancelotti, who was unveiled as Real Madrid coach today, will be assisted by Paul Clement with whom he worked at Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.
Clement’s journey to the Bernabeu is an unusual one, offering hope to anyone who harbours ambitions to coach professionally but was was unable to make the grade as a player.
Clement took a Sport Science degree before doing his coaching badges. He became a school PE teacher and worked at Chelsea, initially at the Centre of Excellence.
Clement worked with the youngest players there, aged 10 and 12, before moving up through the age-groups. He worked for the Football in the Community programme. Clement eventually benefited from the frequent managerial changes at Chelsea, becoming an assistant to Guus Hiddink when he replaced Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2009. Staying to work under Ancelotti, Clement impressed and, when Ancelotti took over at PSG, he brought Clement – then working at Blackburn Rovers – to France with him.
Now, he sits alongside two of the modern game’s greats on the bench at arguably the biggest club in the world. That’s some journey for a former PE teacher.
Gerard Piqué has reacted angrily to the rumours surrounding the alleged robbery at Spain’s team hotel in Recife.
Several players had large amounts of money stolen from their hotel rooms following their 2-1 victory over Uruguay in the Confederations Cup on Thursday.
Globoesporte claim that, according to hotel employees, five women joined five players and one member of Spain’s backroom staff in a late night game of strip poker.
Piqué, who recently became a father for the first time when his singer girlfriend, Shakira, gave birth to a boy, claimed that those statements are false.
Speaking to Cadena Cope, Pique said: “These are all lies. They are trying to complicate other people’s lives.
“The football federation will take up this matter.”
He added: “This is all a very unpleasant and unwelcome experience. This situation will be resolved, though. Lies are always exposed at some point.”
Gossip mongers among you will be interested to learn that along with Pique, the other players alleged to have been involved were Andrés Iniesta, Santi Cazorla, Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos.