Neymar rules himself out as Ronaldo’s Madrid heir while wishing him ‘good luck’ in Italy

Neymar has affirmed he will not be leaving Paris Saint-Germain to become Cristiano Ronaldo’s successor at Real Madrid, as he wished the striker ‘good luck’ at Juventus. 

The Brazil star has been constantly linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu despite sealing a world-record transfer to France less than 12 months ago. 

Those rumours have only increased since Ronaldo’s sensational move to Serie A, with both he and PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe as possible heirs to the record-breaking striker. 

But Neymar affirmed on Saturday that he was “100 per cent staying” at Parc des Princes, and hopes his old foe can succeed in Italy. 

“I wish him good luck and all the best in this new phase [in his career],” he said to reporters from Sao Paulo’s Praia Grande, where he has organised and is participating in a neighbourhood football tournament to help at-risk youths.

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The forward has suffered widespread criticism for his conduct during the World Cup, facing accusations that he goes to ground too easily. 

But he insisted that the jibes had no effect on him. 

“I am used to it. I know what they say about me, and I know what I have to about it,” he fired. 

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“But those who come a little closer to me know about all the difficulties that being Neymar entails.” 

Neymar, who missed the last three months of PSG’s season with a metatarsal injury, was absent on post-World Cup leave for his club’s first International Champions Cup runout on Saturday. 

Without the Brazilian, Mbappe or Edinson Cavani Thomas Tuchel’s men fell 3-1 to Bayern Munich, despite taking the lead through Timothy Weah. 

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Inter new boy Lautaro Martinez denies Zenit in six-goal thriller

Inter new boy Lautaro Martinez scored a late equaliser to deny Zenit victory in an entertaining 3-3 friendly draw in Pisa.

Antonio Candreva gave the Serie A side the lead after 16 minutes with a gorgeous 30-yard strike which found the top-right corner, though it did not last long.

Christian Noboa levelled just before the half-hour mark, lashing a fine volley into the bottom-left corner from just inside the penalty area.

Inter went back in front early in the second half – Mauro Icardi coolly converting a penalty after Miha Mevlja tripped Borja Valero.

But Zenit were far from done, equalising through Robert Mak’s ferocious effort just after the hour, then going ahead thanks to Hernani, whose stunning long-range strike went in off the crossbar.

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Martinez ultimately ensured Inter claimed a draw 15 minutes from the end, firing home from close range.

It was the young Argentine’s second goal in three pre-season outings since joining from Racing Club, having previously scored in a victory over Switzerland’s Lugano.

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Klopp plays down Pulisic to Liverpool links but doesn’t rule out future move

Jurgen Klopp has admitted that he is a big fan of U.S. national team and Borussia Dortmund star Christian Pulisic, but played down a possible move for the teenager.

Pulisic has been consistently linked with a move to Anfield to play under Klopp, who was with the Bundesliga side when the winger was making his way through the youth ranks. 

And while Klopp believes the future is bright for Pulisic, he doesn’t seem to believe the time is right to make a move for one of BVB’s top prospects. 

“He has a contract at Dortmund, no? That’s the first problem,” Klopp told a press conference 

“I like Christian, I’ve known him since he was a kid. He’s still not really old, he’s a fantastic player, and it’s deserved people think highly of him in America.

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“In Germany it’s the same. If he wants to play in England or whatever one day then for sure he has the chance to do so but he’s at a really good club for his development at this moment.

“It’s really good to be at a club where they know him already.”

While Pulisic has made a name for himself in both Germany and the USA, he struggled in the second half of the season with Dortmund. 

But Klopp says he thinks the 19-year-old is at a great place to continue his development, and wouldn’t rule out a future move for the Hershey, Pennsylvania native. 

“He had not his best season last year but he was still a decisive player. But it’s important in that age group that there’s no rush.

“He still has 14 or 15 years to play in his career and that’s good and he wants to be the best Pulisic he can be. For this, there is still space for development.

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“If – at one point – he will join us, I don’t know.

“I like him, it’s not that that could be the problem, but we respect contracts still and there’s no market I know about at the moment. We did our business and Dortmund are doing theirs. All good.”

Klopp and Liverpool will face off with Pulisic and Dortmund on Sunday in the International Champions Cup. 

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Salah is fully recovered and full of joy – Klopp

Mohamed Salah has fully recovered from the shoulder injury he suffered against Real Madrid in the Champions League final and is “full of joy” ahead of the new season, according to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

Salah dislocated his shoulder in a tangle with Sergio Ramos back in May when Liverpool were beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid, who were crowned European champions for a third year in a row.

The injury meant Salah’s World Cup was disrupted, preventing him from featuring in Egypt’s opener – a 1-0 defeat to Uruguay.

Salah was able to play – and score – against Russia and Saudi Arabia, but Egypt left the tournament without even registering a point.

Nevertheless, the former Roma star is back to 100 per cent and has joined up with Liverpool in the United States ahead of Sunday’s International Champions Cup meeting with Borussia Dortmund.

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“[He’s] fully recovered, he was fine,” Klopp told reporters on Saturday. “We were in close contact [with Egypt].

“He is a very serious person and he knows it’s his career. If you can’t [play], you can’t. He looks full of joy, he’s happy to be back.

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“It was nice to see him and Sadio [Mane]. They had an intense year but they’re really looking forward to the season.

“They did the work they had to do, they can start quicker and from another basis. The season starts August 12, so that’s good.”

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‘He wanted to take my whole team’ – Napoli president slams Sarri after Chelsea switch

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has accused former coach Maurizio Sarri of trying to take his “whole team” with him to new club Chelsea.

De Laurentiis replaced Sarri with Carlo Ancelotti at the end of last season, a punishment for taking too long to make his mind up about his future.

The coach remained contractually tied to Napoli even after his dismissal, before Chelsea eventually reached an agreement with the club to bring him to the Premier League, sacking Antonio Conte as a result.

Chelsea’s appointment of Sarri played a major role in the signing of midfielder Jorginho, who initially looked destined to join Manchester City.

But Jorginho is not the only player Sarri tried to bring with him to Stamford Bridge, according to his former boss.

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“I didn’t like him saying that we both made mistakes, as I don’t think I made any,” De Laurentiis told Sky Sport Italia.

“He had a contract, so I could’ve said something because he was behaving in unacceptably, going against players he didn’t think were very good.

“I was not wrong to not challenge him, even if it would’ve been the most obvious thing [to do].

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“These players gave him a lot. He massacred them in his famous training sessions, but they always reacted well.

“After that, he wanted to take my whole team to England and dismantle it. I had to lay down the law to Marina [Granovskaia, director at Chelsea].

“He wanted Jorginho and I gave him away after talking with Ancelotti, who told me he was expecting a lot from [Amadou] Diawara and that he wants to play [Marek] Hamsik deeper.”

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