Loads more money, a better, more prestigious team, and a better, more prestigious league – there are only three reasons that might persuade Neymar to leave Paris Saint-Germain for Real Madrid. As such, Kylian Mbappé felt able to dismiss the prospect as “nothing but hot air”, hot air being fairly useful when moving from one place to another. “Neymar sends me messages, gives me news,” he said. “I wished him a good World Cup, but not to win it.” That begins in a mere 10 weeks, so the two are obviously very close.
Elsewhere, and despite cruising to the Premier League title, Manchester City will not spend the summer sitting idly by. They like the look of Eljif Elmas, Fenerbahce’s 18-year-old attacking midfielder, the plan being for him to adorn their elite development squad before departing in search of playing opportunities a couple of years later. Borussia Dortmund, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord are also keen.
Across Manchester, we learn that Paul Pogba has “no problem” with José Mourinho, and why would he have? After all, he has only endured the humiliation, frustration and indignation of being deemed less use than both Scott McTominay and Marouane Fellaini. “It’s not me who picks the team,” he said. “Ask the coach if you want to know why I play less. I respect his choices.” Such effusion explains why Pogba is expected to remain at United next season, his centrality to the club’s commercial plans and lack of potential suitors simply a spooky coincidence. Perhaps he can play right-back.
Another player tantalised with options is Moussa Marega. The French-born Malian international is stationed at Porto, for whom he plays either as an attacking midfielder or a striker, and has notched 20 goals this term. His buy-out clause is £35m, and Everton, Swansea City and West Ham United all fancy paying it; one can only imagine his excitement.
West Ham also fancy paying £27m for Rodrigo Battaglia of Sporting Clube de Portugal. The 26-year-old midfielder is interesting Internazionale, Roma and Napoli too, but the prospect of David Moyes and bubbles might be enough to seal the deal.
A player who will not be moving this summer is Roma’s goalkeeper, Alisson. Ramón Rodríguez Verdejo, commonly known as Monchi, also known as that director of football who is always talking, has been talking again. “I am honestly a little tired of talking about Alisson’s future,” he claimed. “I get asked this in every interview now. We have not received any offers and have no intention of selling. We are happy to have Alisson, we want to enjoy him. I don’t want to name a hypothetical price-tag for him, because when someone doesn’t want to sell, he doesn’t name a price.”
But someone definitely on the move is Antonio Conte, who has rolled up his rug and is ready to transplant his family straight out of west London. “He can’t wait to leave,” said Gianluca Vialli. “He can’t stand that they sell or buy players without consulting him. The truth is, Chelsea would like a manager who is more of a club man.” Avram Grant is standing by.
Elsewhere, Jonathan Bond must have done something terrible to offend the karmic universe. Reading’s 24-year-old keeper is impressing on loan at Peterborough United and, out of contract at the end of the season, has piqued the interest of Sunderland. Good luck, old mate.
And finally, a bombshell: though his contract expires in the summer, Wayne Hennessey would like to stay with Crystal Palace. This is great news for the Eagles, but a devastating blow for all those clubs seeking a keeper equally suspect on crosses as at shot-stopping.