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Neymar injury an opportunity for Julian Draxler at PSG

From rising star to Germany regular, Julian Draxler's career has long been trending upward, but he's struggled for playing time since joining Paris Saint-Germain. Will Neymar's injury offer him a pre-World Cup boost? Six months ago, things were looking pretty good for Julian Draxler. After securing the move away from Wolfsburg that he'd long been angling for, he'd become a regular in Paris Saint-Germain's version of the Galacticos, captained Germany to a Confederations Cup win and had the inside track toward a starting spot in Germany's World Cup defense in Russia. But then, at the beginning of August, the French club broke the world transfer record to sign a Brazilian from Barcelona who played in his position. Since Neymar arrived at the Parc des Princes, there's been little doubt that he's the star of the show, with 29 goals in 29 games to go along with the headline-grabbing birthday parties and public rows over penalty duties. But his arrival has been less than positive for Draxler, who has completed 90 minutes just six times for his club this season, with only a handful of cameo appearances in his favored position on the left wing. Frustrations evident After PSG's 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 — in which Draxler played just nine minutes — the 24-year-old let his frustrations slip to German broadcaster ZDF. “In the Bernabeu, you don’t want to watch 84 minutes from the bench but, with our squad, you don’t always get the choice,” he said. The extent of Neymar's metatarsal fracture, which he suffered in PSG's 3-0 win over Marseille on Sunday, is unclear at this stage, but it appears he'll be out for at least a month. This means he is almost certain to miss the return leg on March 6, despite PSG coach Unai Emery's suggestion there's a "small chance" he'll be ready. Draxler would surely revel in another game against a team he dismantled while playing for Wolfsburg in 2016 . However, his place is not totally assured, with Argentinians Angel di Maria or Javier Pastore among the alternatives for the Parisian club. A chance to make his mark Despite the competition, Emery, who has often tried to shoehorn the German in to a central midfield since Neymar's arrival, spoke highly of Draxler in December as rumors swirled about a switch to the Premier League. "He's in a constant evolution and he still has a lot of energy. At PSG, Draxler is in very good hands, he's a great contributor to our game, he's learning a lot," Emery said. "I talk to him a lot and I'm very demanding with him and he's one of those very ambitious players and he shows that with good performances, also for the national team, and he's a very important player for us." As Emery suggested, Draxler is a key man for Joachim Löw and his name is surely inked in to Germany's 23-man squad for Russia 2018. But, with Leroy Sané impressing for Manchester City, Julian Brandt showing flickers of form at Bayer Leverkusen and Marco Reus impressing in his latest comeback at Borussia Dortmund, Draxler needs regular playing time to find the form and fitness that would secure him a starting spot. With another crunch game against Marseille in the French Cup on Wednesday before the Madrid game and prestige international friendlies against Spain and Brazil at the end of March, Neymar's absence could offer an opportunity for PSG's half-forgotten man to restate his case.

From rising star to Germany regular, Julian Draxler’s career has long been trending upward, but he’s struggled for playing time since joining Paris Saint-Germain. Will Neymar’s injury offer him a pre-World Cup boost? Six months ago, things were looking pretty good for Julian Draxler. After securing the move away from Wolfsburg that he’d long been angling for, he’d become a ... Read More »

Cristiano Ronaldo the favorite to win FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award

Cristiano Ronaldo is the clear favorite to be named the world's top men's football player of 2017. The Portuguese superstar is the holder of the award, which was handed out for the first time in 2016. Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, 32, will be up against strong competition in the form of Barcelona rival Lionel Messi and Neymar, who became the world's most expensive player when Paris Saint-Germain spent €222 million ($260 million) last summer to trigger his release clause at Barca. However, the general consensus ahead of Monday evening's awards ceremony in London was that Ronaldo has the clear edge. Over the past year, the Portuguese superstar fired Real to glory in La Liga and scored 12 goals as they won the Champions League for a third time in four seasons. "In the end, Ronaldo is ahead of the others," former Italy and Roma star Francesco Totti told FIFA's website. "He had an amazing season and also accomplished all of his goals with the most prestigious of teams." World-class peers There's also an argument to be made for the 30-year-old Messi, who scored a total of 54 goals in all competitions last season, and helped Barcelona to a Copa del Rey title. The Argentina superstar is off to a great start to the current season, having scored 15 goals so far. He also earned his country a place at next year's World Cup with a hat trick against Ecuador. "We all know who is the player in the world," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "The truth is, the handing out of a trophy isn't something that worries me too much." At 25, Brazilian star Neymar is the youngest of the three. He was part of the Barcelona side that lifted the Copa del Rey and helped Brazil become the first team aside from hosts Russia to qualify for next year's World Cup. Zidane the favorite to win coaching honor Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is expected to be named "The Best" men's coach for 2017 after becoming the first man to lead his team to a successful defense of the European Cup in the Champions League era. The former France star is up against Chelsea's Antonio Conte and Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri. "To be sincere, if they give it to me, I'll take it with pleasure," Zidane said. "But if the question is, 'Am I the best coach in the world?' No, and I'm sure of it." Neuer up for top goalkeeper Manuel Neuer of Bayern Munich and Germany is one of the three candidates to the top goalkeeper of 2017. The 31-year-old is joined on the shortlist by veteran Italy and Juventus keeper Gianluigi Buffon, 39, and Real Madrid's Costa Rican shot stopper, Keylor Navas. The shortlist for the best women's player includes Venezuela's Deyna Castellanos, American star Carli Lloyd and Dutchwoman Lieke Martens. Fan award Borussia Dortmund's supporters, who won the inaugural award last season, have been nominated again as one of the three finalists for the ward in the fan category. They are up against the supporters of Celtic and FC Copenhagen. The awards were voted on by national team captains, national team coaches, selected members of the media and fans.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the clear favorite to be named the world’s top men’s football player of 2017. The Portuguese superstar is the holder of the award, which was handed out for the first time in 2016. Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, 32, will be up against strong competition in the form of Barcelona rival Lionel Messi and Neymar, who became the ... Read More »

Neymar unveiled as football’s most expensive player, denies it’s about the money

Paris Saint-Germain have unveiled the most-expensive signing in football history. Brazilian star Neymar described the decision to leave Barcelona for PSG as the most difficult one of his life. Neymar, who officially joined Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for 222 million euros ($264 million) on Thursday, repeatedly told reporters at a Friday press conference that he decided to leave Barcelona for footballing reasons. "I wanted a new challenge. I wanted something bigger. To do my best. And to do even better," he said. He added that he hoped to further develop as a player at his new club. Although his wages are reportedly set to triple to 30 million euros a year after tax, the 25-year-old was also quick to insist that the move had nothing to do with the money. 'Not about the money' "I was never motivated by money," Neymar said. "What I think about is happiness. If I was following the money I would maybe be in some other country." The club's chairman, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who described Neymar as "the best player in the world," also insisted that the striker could have made much more money at another club and that he had made the decision for "sporting reasons." Al-Khelaifi also confirmed that a buyout clause was included in Neymar's contract, but he declined to put a figure on it. The 222 million euros that PSG spent on him was used to trigger his previous contract at Barcelona. Financial fair play Asked about how PSG intended to ensure that it complies with UEFA's financial fair play rules, the chairman replied: "What we have done is completely transparent and legal... Whatever the media says, we honestly don't care." However, he did say it was a good bit of business for the club, despite the record fee, because Neymar's value would "at least double inside two years." Leaving Barca 'the most difficult decision' For his part, Neymar also took great pains to insist that he had left Barcelona, where he won the Champions League in 2015 and collected two Spanish league titles and three Copas del Rey in four seasons, on good terms. He described the decision to move on as "the most difficult decision" that he had ever made, and he praised Barca as a special club with wonderful teammates who will remain his friends. He also admitted that some of his former teammates had tried hard to convince him to stay. Ready for action At the same time though, he stressed that he was keen to get down to work on his new challenge in the French capital. "I can play tomorrow (against Amiens). Why not? I'll speak to the staff, but I really want to play. I haven't discussed where I will play. I will play where the coach wants me to," he replied when asked how soon the PSG fans could expect to see him in the squad. "I only stopped training in the last two days and I'm hungry to play football." If the queue outside of the Parc des Princes is any indication, the supporters can't wait to see him in the number 10 jersey that was already on sale when the club's fan shop opened for business this Friday.

Paris Saint-Germain have unveiled the most-expensive signing in football history. Brazilian star Neymar described the decision to leave Barcelona for PSG as the most difficult one of his life. Neymar, who officially joined Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for 222 million euros ($264 million) on Thursday, repeatedly told reporters at a Friday press conference that he decided to leave Barcelona for footballing ... Read More »

Neymar under investigation for fraud in Brazil

Star Brazilian striker Neymar has found himself at the center of tax evasion allegations in his hometown of Santos. At the same time, he was facing a Spanish court over irregularities when he was signed to FC Barcelona. Soccer star Neymar and his father found themselves in new legal hot water on Tuesday when Brazilian prosecutors filed suits against the pair for tax evasion and providing false information. Two ex-presidents of Neymar's Spanish club FC Barcelona were also implicated in the suit, launched by the Prosecution Service in the star's hometown of Santos. The state attorneys released a statement saying Neymar and his father had "forged a series of documents between 2006 and 2013 with the intention of reducing the taxes owed to the inland revenue in Brazil," referring to contracts over image rights made when a teenaged Neymar was playing for the Santos side. The famous footballer and his father funneled money from publicity work into the elder Neymar's account to cut their tax burden, claims the prosecution. "Neymar's conduct, along with the others accused, caused millions in losses to the public coffers," the statement continued. A judge now must decide if the case goes forward. The charge also has to do with fraud the prosecution says occurred during negotiations to trade the striker to Barcelona in 2011. Before finally leaving for the Spanish champions in 2013, prosecutors say three companies linked to Neymar's relatives were all involved in the scheme to evade taxes. The 23-year-old Brazilian has defended himself on his website, accusing the prosecution of "seeking the limelight." Neymars in front Spanish judge At the same time the charges were being filed on Tuesday, Neymar and his father were already before a judge in Madrid to provide evidence in a case also involving former FC Barcelona Presidents Alexandre Rosell Feliu and Josep Maria Bartomeu Floresta, also to do with irregularities in signing the young striker to the team. Last week, a Sao Paolo judge ruled that Neymar and his father would have to pay back nearly $113,000 (103,000 Euros) in taxes to the Brazilian authorities in a separate case relating to wrongdoing in 2007 and 2008.

Star Brazilian striker Neymar has found himself at the center of tax evasion allegations in his hometown of Santos. At the same time, he was facing a Spanish court over irregularities when he was signed to FC Barcelona. Soccer star Neymar and his father found themselves in new legal hot water on Tuesday when Brazilian prosecutors filed suits against the ... Read More »

Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar up for Ballon d’Or

All three finalists for the Ballon d'Or award as player of the year come from Spain's Primera Liga. Three German World Cup winners failed to make the final cut. Ballon d'Or holder Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured, above right) of Real Madrid was joined by two members of FC Barcelona on the three-man list of finalists unveiled at a FIFA gala on Monday. Neymar has made it to the final three for the first time, alongside Barcelona teammate and perennial finalist Lionel Messi (above, left). Ronaldo has captured the award as the world's best player for the past two years running, after Messi had dominated the trophy, having previously won the Ballon d'Or four times in a row. Three members of the German team that won the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, his high-scoring teammate, Thomas Müller, and Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos had all been in the running but failed to advance to the final three. Bayern's Pep Guardiola on the other hand, is one of the three finalists in the race for coach of the year, alongside Chile's Copa America winner Jorge Sampaoli and Luis Enrique of Barcelona. The only German to be included among the finalists is Celia Sasic of the women's national team. She is joined by Carli Lloyd of the US squad that won the World Cup in Canada this past summer, as well as Aya Miyama of finalists Japan. Jill Ellis of the US, Norio Sasak of Japan and Mark Sampson of England are the finalists in the category of coaches of women's teams. Also unveiled on Monday were the three finalists for the FIFA Puskas Award for the "most beautiful goal of the year." In the running are Alessandro Florenzi of Roma, Wendell Lira of Brazilian side Athetico GO Goianesia and Lionel Messi. The winners are to be announced at a gala in Zurich on January 11.

All three finalists for the Ballon d’Or award as player of the year come from Spain’s Primera Liga. Three German World Cup winners failed to make the final cut. Ballon d’Or holder Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured, above right) of Real Madrid was joined by two members of FC Barcelona on the three-man list of finalists unveiled at a FIFA gala on ... Read More »

Neymar has millions in assets frozen in Brazil

A Brazilian court has accused international football star Neymar of evading millions of dollars in taxes. Now the Barcelona Forward could face fines worth even more than that. The judge accused 23-year-old Neymar of tax evasion on Friday, freezing 188.8 million reals ($47 million, 42 million euros) of his assets. The Sao Paulo-born star forward, now with FC Barcelona in Spain, is suspected of evading taxes worth 63.6 million reals. Carlos Muta, the Brazilian judge who made the ruling, said he had frozen three times the amount Neymar has been accused of not paying in order to cover potential interest and fines, according to a document released by the court. The alleged evasion dates back to 2011-2013, before Neymar's move to last year's Champions League winners, when he starred for top-flight Brazilian club Santos. The player will still have access to his bank accounts and liquid assets, but will not be able to sell any of his assets before the case comes to a close. Because the fines amount to more than 30 percent of Neymar's total declared assets -- about 244 million real ($61 million, 54.5 million euros) -- Brazilian authorities also froze assets belonging to his family. Prosecutors allege that the player purposefully omitted sources of income from abroad, including FC Barcelona. This isn't the first time Neymar has been embroiled in a tax-related scandal. In 2014, Barcelona's Sandro Rosell resigned as president of the club following allegations that he had failed to report the full cost of Neymar's transfer to the Spanish club from Santos. Afterward, FC Barcelona paid Spanish tax authorities a total of 13.5 million euros.

A Brazilian court has accused international football star Neymar of evading millions of dollars in taxes. Now the Barcelona Forward could face fines worth even more than that. The judge accused 23-year-old Neymar of tax evasion on Friday, freezing 188.8 million reals ($47 million, 42 million euros) of his assets. The Sao Paulo-born star forward, now with FC Barcelona in ... Read More »

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