Paid in full

Barcelona have confirmed they will pay Santos 57 million euros for Neymar after presenting the player to supporters on Monday.

The transfer fee was confirmed by Barca vice president Josep Bartomeu, who also revealed the forward’s buyout clause in his five-year contract has been set at 190 million euros.

Speaking at the player’s presentation at Camp Nou, Bartomeu said the fee, which will give the club full ownership of Neymar, will be paid to Santos and the three other companies who held percentages of the player’s rights.

An advanced payment of 10 million euros has already been made, and the rest will be paid in instalments over the course of the next three years.

“Neymar has signed a five-year contract with a buyout clause of 190 million euros,” Bartomeu said at a press conference.

After arriving in Catalonia on a specially chartered private jet on Monday afternoon, hundreds of photographers were waiting to take his picture when he landed. He was then presented to thousands of supporters at Camp Nou, where he delighted those present with a round of ball juggling (see below).

The Brazilian, who has been tipped by many, including his compatriot Pele, to become the best player in the world, said he was overcome by the welcome he was given.

“The thrill of being cheered when I entered the Nou Camp – it was hard not to cry,” said the Brazilian. “My dream has come true.

“I’ve never worried about being the best in the world. The best is already here and that’s Messi.

“I’m one of the luckiest men in the world to be able to play with him and it’s an honour. I’m very happy to be realising my life’s dream.

“To have the opportunity to play with great players I admire like Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta – I’ve begun a new stage of my life and I’m going to be very happy and achieve a lot.”

Personal Jesus

During the final months of his reign as Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini could often be heard complaining about the tardiness with which City conducted their transfer business last summer.  This year, he warned, they should not make the same mistake. No doubt, now that he is no longer with the club, he would appreciate the irony of them splashing the cash the moment the transfer window had been flung open.

First through the revolving door in what promises to be a hectic summer at the Etihad, is Spain international winger Jesus Navas, who joins from Seville in a deal that could cost around £17m plus add-ons.

Navas was a little-used member of Spain’s successful 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 squads and is in the 23-man party picked for the Confederations Cup.

Navas was a key part of the Sevilla team that won the UEFA Cup in 2006 and 2007 but he was unable to take up a place in the Spain squad for many years because he suffered terribly from homesickness.

The 27-year-old has suffered from anxiety attacks when away from home for extended periods and has been forced to leave training camps on several occasions. However, happily, extensive counselling appears to have alleviated the symptoms. A long, cold, grey winter in Manchester will test the extent of that recovery.

A statement on the Sevilla website confirmed: “Jesus Navas leaves Seville for Manchester City.

“Sevilla accepted an offer from the English club on Monday, taking into account the desire of the player, who will now have to pass a medical.

“Navas wants to continue his successful sporting career in English football, more precisely at a club at which he can continue to develop as a footballer, as he has publicly stated on various occasions in recent months.”

The winger spoke enthusiastically about the move and said he was relishing the prospect of teaming up with Manuel Pellegrini, the coach expected to replace Mancini.

“I’m so happy to be joining Manchester City. It’s a good opportunity and I think both sides are happy,” he told reporters. “I took the decision to go to City four months ago.”

“I still haven’t spoken to Manuel Pellegrini but he is a coach that I know.”

“The Premier League is very fast and I’m very excited because Manchester City are putting a very good team together,” he continued.

“I’m leaving Sevilla, which is a beautiful place and I’m going to a big club in England. I’m still not comfortable speaking English though. I’ll have to study now.

“The most important thing with the deal is that everyone wins. I leave Sevilla very grateful for everything and hope to achieve big things at City.”

Goal of the day

Lech Poznan’s Gergo Lovrencsics lashed home from 25 yards against Korona Kielce.

Quote of the day

“The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It’s nothing of the kind. The game is about glory. It is about doing things in style, with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.”

An old quote, from former Tottenham legend Danny Blanchflower. It came to mind when hearing Real Madrid president discussing a possible move for current Tottenham icon Gareth Bale.

“Regarding the figures spoken about Bale, players are neither cheap nor expensive, but an investment. Most expensive players are those that can be classified as an investment because, if they are very good, they produce a return.”

So much for the ‘glory’ of the game; Blanchflower would be turning in his grave on hearing Perez’s view of the modern day footballer.

Honda powers Japan to Brazil

Japan became the first team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, drawing 1-1 with Australia.

Tommy Oar put Australia ahead in the 82nd minute. But Japan equalised when Matthew McKay’s handed the ball  and from the resultant penalty, Keisuke Honda beat goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer with a left-footed shot fired into the top corner.

So, just over a year before the finals kick off in Sao Paulo, Japan become the first country to qualify, joining hosts Brazil in the draw.

”I have achieved one of the goals I was hired for,” Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni said. ”But just qualifying is not enough. We have a very strong commitment to playing well so we will aim even higher in Brazil.”

Honda had missed Japan’s last two matches – both defeats – but he was his team’s best player on Tuesday and was rightly praised by his Italian coach.

”Honda is a special player,” Zaccheroni said. ”He has two important qualities: he’s strong physically and he’s strong mentally. That was his first full 90-minute game since November and he was spectacular.”

With the top two in each group qualifying for next year’s finals, Australia lie third, two points behind Oman with a game in hand.

Time out

Treble-winning Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes will take time out next season but fell short of announcing his retirement on Tuesday.

The 68-year-old, who will be replaced by former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, won the Champions League earlier this month as well as the Bundesliga and Cup double for an unprecedented treble by a German club.

“I am still impressed with the events,” an emotional Heynckes told reporters. “From July 1 I will not take over any club here or abroad.”

Heynckes had been linked in the media with a possible move back to Real Madrid, but Henyckes hinted that he fancied a sabbatical.

Flanked by club boss Uli Hoeness and chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who heaped praise on the 1974 World Cup winner with a large banner behind them that read “Thank You Jupp”, Heynckes said he needed time to reflect.

“The last two years were intense and outstanding,” he said, adding the team had learned a lot after just missing out on three titles last season.

“This season I reached my limit. In the past weeks I realised I had reached an age where recovery takes a lot longer.

“I personally am not in favour of final decisions. I am 68 and there is life outside the job. I want to enjoy my life,” he said.

And after a season of unprecedented success achieved against a backdrop of his looming redundancy, no one would begrudge the veteran coach that.

No hard feelings

Iker Casillas has refused to criticise departed Real Madrid coach, Jose Mourinho, despite not playing a single match for the first team in the final five months of the season.

The Spanish number one was initially dropped for little-known understudy Antonio Adan before Christmas and then, while Casillas was recovering from a hand injury, Diego Lopez was brought in for the remainder of the season.

Mourinho then handed Casillas what appeared to be one final slight when, with Lopez unavailable, he named fourth-choice keeper Jesus Fernandez in his starting line-up for his final match in charge against Osasuna at the weekend.

Mourinho’s treatment of long-serving club captain Casillas did not go down well with sections of the Madrid supporters, but the keeper chose to keep his own counsel by offering a dignified epitaph to the Mourinho era.

He said in the Spanish press: “I don’t hold any grudge nor do I feel mistreated by him. He took the decisions which he thought were the best for the club and you need to respect that. I’ve nothing personal against him.

“Unfortunately we weren’t able to achieve our objectives in the Copa del Rey and Champions League in the end, but there’s no point going on about that.

“Mourinho has embarked on a new journey and I wish him the best.”

Common enemy

Politicians know the value of distracting a discontented electorate when things are not going to plan. And, it would appear, that football coaches are beginning to master the same art.

One win in six matches since he returned to coach the Brazil national team have hardly endeared Luiz Felipe Scolari to the Brazil faithful, so what better way of taking their attention away from their dire recent form than by manufacturing a conflict with a common enemy.

In this case Bayern Munich, with Scolari hitting back at the European champions in the row over Dante and Luiz Gustavo’s enforced absence from the German Cup Final last weekend.

The pair received international call-ups for the Confederations Cup – which begins on June 15 – and last Sunday’s friendly against England in Rio de Janeiro to inaugurate the newly rebuilt Maracana stadium.

The Brazilian federation’s insistence that the duo joined up with the squad 14 days before the start of the tournament – as stipulated in FIFA regulations – angered Bayern as it meant both missed last weekend’s German Cup final.

After the England game Scolari blamed Bayern and explained that a lack of communication was one of the reasons behind the call-ups.

“We wrote to Bayern 15 days, ten days and five days ahead,” he said. “No reply. If they had answered us with 15 days lead time, we would have been ready to negotiate. But they spoke out only two days before. And then you can of course forget about it.”

Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had said in the run-up to the final that Brazil had put a “psycho terror” on their players, something Scolari strenuously denied.

“Which pressure did we put on?” he asked. “We only followed the statutes.”

Scolari will allow the row to rumble on while he prepares his players for the more daunting prospect of the Confederations Cup. Failure in that tournament, though, and Scolari may well have run out of excuses.

Search for silverware

Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny says he may be forced to leave the Premier League outfit if the Gunners do not start winning silverware soon.

Thus, the French international becomes the latest in a long line of Arsenal players who use the club’s failure to win a trophy since 2005, as a pretext for securing a move away from the Emirates. It’s a familiar, almost ritualistic call, heard throughout the summer months in north London; though more usually, it emanates from a player who has done rather more than put together a more consistent body opf work than Koscielny.

Among his more illustrious predecessors, even the mercenary likes of Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie, would express dismay at Koscielny agitating for a move on the back of quite such an undistinguished Arsenal career.

The 27-year-old, who has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich, has asked the club match his own ambition – which until relatively recently, comprised of earning a place in Arsene Wenger’s starting eleven.

“I feel good at Arsenal, if we have ambition to fight against the other teams of course I want to stay here,” Koscielny told Eurosport. “It’s hard psychologically. We are constantly pressured because if Arsenal is not in the Champions League it would be a catastrophe.

“I have to see if I have clubs interested in me. I will not go to any club. I want to maybe discover another league. Paris [Saint-Germain]? There has been no contact yet. It is hard to not win titles year after year. We are competitors, professionals, we want to win. I want to add to my list of achievements. If Arsenal cannot allow me that, I’ll seek a move elsewhere.”


The ongoing anti-government protests in Turkey have achieved one feat that has always seemed unlikely: uniting the partisan and sometimes violent supporters of Istanbul’s “Big Three” football clubs.

Besiktas, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce fans have come together in new-found solidarity during days of demonstrations against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

The mood has been immortalised in a photo doing the rounds on Twitter and Facebook – three fans in rival shirts marching arm-in-arm under the slogan: “Tayyip do you know Istanbul United? Since 31 May 2013.

There are tales of Galatasaray fans coming to the aid of Fenerbahce supporters trapped by the police, or of fans aiding rival supporters in the nearby Besiktas district on the shores of the Bosphorus.

“We are normally enemies, but this has really brought us together. It’s never happened before,” said university student Mert Gurses, 18, sporting a black-and-white Besiktas scarf.

Just three weeks ago, a Fenerbahce fan was stabbed to death at an Istanbul bus stop by someone wearing a red-and-yellow Galatasaray shirt after an end-of-season derby match.

Football pundit Bagis Erten said the impact of the fans was comparable to that of supporters of Cairo clubs Al Ahli and Zamalek during the Egyptian protests in Tahrir Square in 2011.

“It’s very clear that even if Gezi Park (protests) achieve nothing else, they have still brought peace in football,” Erten wrote in the Radikal newspaper. “At least for now.”