Thomas Tuchel Reveals What He Really Thinks of Neymar and Discusses His Targets at PSG

?After a long, long transfer saga that spanned the whole summer, Neymar finally remained at PSG against his own wishes amid serious interest from Barcelona.

Despite a good start to the season, fans of the French champions have continued to express their anger towards the Brazilian star, but manager Thomas Tuchel believes the relationship between the two sides is finally healing.


The German was speaking exclusively to ?the Guardian and said: “The supporters have expressed their opinions and I can understand them, absolutely. It’s their right to express themselves.

“They’re proud of their club and it’s not so nice when you hear your player talking for weeks and weeks saying he wants to leave. As I told Neymar, sometimes it’s like this in life – you have to face the truth and deal with the consequences.”

However, Tuchel added that a lot of negativity the player receives in the press about his character is unwarranted, and that he has ‘a nice heart’.

Neymar Jr

He explained: “?Neymar has a good heart. Sometimes it’s a bit hard to see that he is a nice person when you only watch him play from outside. But he is, he’s a nice guy.

“I told him: ‘You think the hardest part is over but from now on you have to deal with me and I’m going to push you hard. So the hardest thing is still to come for you.”

PSG currently sit at the top of both Ligue 1 and their Champions League group, but the season is only a few months old. Tuchel was asked about his targets for the club this campaign, and what he deems a successful season.

Mauro Icardi

He said: “I have no clear definition. Points count, definitely, titles count if you go to a club like PSG, that’s the way it is. But there’s also the relationships with the players, the connection with the players, sometimes helping a player through a difficult period in his career. That’s also success, no? 

“There’s more to life than points and trophies but we’re all very competitive and we all want to win every game.”

With a tricky period now approaching for Tuchel and his men – which includes three games in nine days – the 46-year-old was questioned about the difficulty of being a manager, and if you have to be slightly mad to take up the role.

Thomas Tuchel

“Yes, you have to be,” Tuchel replied. “It was pretty obvious from the start because even when you’re the coach of the under-14s or the under-15s in the academy, although you don’t have to deal with the press or the media you do have to deal with the parents and sometimes I’m not sure which is worse.

“You have to deal with the pressure inside the academies, the parents who want the best for their kids and how you don’t always share the same opinions. But we’re all crazy in love with football so we accept it.”


Introducing Pedri: Barcelona & Spain’s Next, Next Wonderkid

?On 2 September 2019, Barcelona fans across the globe were still clutching in vain to the hope that Neymar might still, somehow, complete a deadline day move back to Catalonia to end the transfer saga of all transfer sagas. 

He didn’t.

The lack of closure on Neymar’s prodigal son story was a severe, if not unexpected, anti-climax. However, there was one announcement from Barcelona that deadline day at 10:27 pm. The Spanish champions had reached an agreement for the transfer of 16-year-old Pedro Gonzalez Lopez, Pedri for short, from Las Palmas for the sum of €5m.

It wasn’t the deal to appease the fans but the announcement was intriguing. 

Set to arrive in the summer of 2020, Pedri – who had only just made his first-team debut with Las Palmas but had also been linked with Chelsea – would get a contract with a €100m release clause at Barcelona B. That clause would, in turn, rise to €400m when he joined the first team. ?Barça seemingly knew they had someone special.

The early stages of the 2019/20 season have borne out Barcelona’s assessment, as Pedri has become one of the surprise sensations of Spanish football despite not even playing in the top tier.

The teenager as described by his manager Pepe Mel has been ‘scandalously good’, scoring three times and assisting three more in ten games in Spain’s often unloved and uncompromising second tier.

Pedro Gonzalez Lopez ''Pedri''

He scored his first 17 days after signing on to become a Barcelona player, walloping a 20-yard half-volley into the bottom corner as Las Palmas beat Sporting Gijon 1-0.

In the 3-0 victory over Deportivo La Coruña, his last domestic game before joining up with Spain’s Under-17 World Cup squad to travel to Brazil, Pedri registered a brace of assists – the first a slide-rule pass beyond the toes of the defence that would’ve made fellow Canary Islander David Silva proud.

“He’s going to be a star of Spanish football,” Mel said unequivocally, via SPORT.

MARCA described the youngster as a ‘hurricane’, while his Las Palmas teammate Benito Ramírez said (via ?El Diario): “Pedri is what you see on TV, pure talent.”

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Pedri’s limelight-hogging displays were made all the more impressive when taking into account his age. As Catalan daily ?SPORT pointed out, Pedri was born just two days ahead of Luis Figo’s infamous return to Camp Nou involving the pig’s head in November 2002. That’s how young he is. 

However, rather than Figo, it’s Andres Iniesta who is Pedri’s idol. Curiously, Iniesta’s first-team debut at Barcelona also came in autumn of 2002 – one month prior to Pedri’s birth.

“My biggest reference was Iniesta, but my father gave me videos of [Michael] Laudrup and I loved how he played. The two were reference points,” he is quoted as saying to Leaderbrock Sports prior to the Under-17 World Cup. 

Andres Iniesta

Dismissed by Tenerife at youth level for beingflaco y pequeñito’  – ?too skinny and small – Pedri might have joined Real Madrid rather than Barcelona. SPORT revealed that in February, the teenager went to Los Blancos’ Valdebebas training ground for a trial, but was apparently unsuccessful. Whether Pedri goes on to become a missed opportunity to match the infamous story of Florentino Perez letting a 13-year-old Neymar slip threw his fingers after a trial in Madrid is unknown, but there is already an interesting symmetry.

With Barcelona’s other wonderkid Ansu Fati not going to the Under-17 World Cup in Brazil – which runs between 26 October and 17 November – Pedri is perhaps ?the team’s most exciting talent and certainly the one with the most first-team experience.

The prospect of Fati and Pedri linking up for Barcelona next season and beyond is an exciting one for fans, who have seen their club semi-abandon a reliance on elite youth products in favour of heavy spending in the transfer market for ready-made (if not best-fit) stars in recent years.

?A report this week claimed that Barcelona are considering ditching any plans they had to re-sign Neymar as they already have Fati, a potentially generational talent whose style they don’t want to cramp.

In Pedri, Barça maybe might just have the player to stop them looking for another big-money Iniesta replacement.

For more from Andy Headspeath follow him on Twitter! 


Marco Verratti Admits He Was Close to Joining Barcelona in 2016

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti has revealed he was close to joining Barcelona in the summer of 2016, but eventually turned them down. 

The Italy star, who is currently on international duty with the Azzurri preparing to take on Liechtenstein in a Euro 2020 qualifier following an impressive performance against Greece, has been in imposing form for Paris Saint-Germain so far this season. 

Marco Verrati

And, speaking in an interview with L’Equipe as relayed by Calciomercato, Verratti revealed he had been the subject of some considerable interest from Barca back in 2016, and that he considered making the switch.

The midfielder, who has been somewhat blighted by injury in the interim, explained: “They had proposed me something different and I think it’s normal to think about it for a few moments.”

Ultimately though, of course, he remained in the French capital, where has been since leaving Pescara in 2012. Asked about the move and his first few months in Paris, Verratti admitted: “I asked Leonardo [the sporting director] and [Carlo] Ancelotti if they knew me but I don’t think they knew me very much and I know they asked about me in Italy.

“It’s a strange story: so I always say that in football you also have need some luck.”

In his time in France, he has come under some scrutiny for his off-field lifestyle, but he was quick to leap to his own defence, protesting: “Whoever is a footballer is a person like many others.

“And we don’t do anything special. I can go out like any other person. If I have a free day I go out, but there was a moment when if I went out and was recognised all this turned into ‘Marco Verratti goes out every night’. It’s not like that at all.”


Neymar Transfer Saga Continues as Report Explains Real Madrid Meetings

To call the summer a tumultuous one for Neymar would be to call Monday the worst day of the week – glaringly obvious. 

After all, Neymar’s tumults were played out for public attention all summer long. But were they played out in full? Of course not. Even with the microscopic eye for content the football world now has, there remains an underbelly of secret talks and dealings.

Neymar Jr

A report Marca now claims to shed further light on the state of mind of the Brazilian during those trying months. 

As per the publication, it is understood that between 1 August and 20 August, ?Neymar and his representatives held a number of talks with high-profile players at Real Madrid in an attempt to get a deal over the line. 

These players included captain Sergio Ramos, who praised of the player’s abilities, alongside compatriots Casemiro and Marcelo, who were understandably eager to give Neymar a warm welcome, with Ballon d’Or holder Luka Modric also involved. 

The principal message of those conversations was essentially his desire to join Real, and an attempt to pass it on to gain some credibility and influence.

As for the club, they are understood to have done a great deal of analysis over the potential for a transfer, while assessing who they could sell to get it over the line. This all happened, according to Marca, with the ‘knowledge’ of PSG’s sporting director Leonardo.

Florentino Perez is known to have been somewhat hesitant and thought the cost of the deal would end up being too much but he did acknowledge the player’s quality and was not dismissing the move out of hand.

Ultimately, of course, unwanted high earners like Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez were not shifted, and on 20 August the club officially told their French counterparts that they would not be submitting an offer, sparking panic from the player, who turned back to Barcelona without success.

More recently, the ?Brazilian picked up an injury on international duty and will be out of action for the next four weeks.


The 20 Best Footballers of the Decade

Let’s not kid ourselves. We all know that the 2010s was a decade dominated by two players; not 20.

Those two footballers are called Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

You’ve probably heard of them.

In the 2010s, they’ve scored a combined 1,026 goals (and counting), they’ve won a combined 41 trophies and eight Ballons d’Or between them (four each, if you’re wondering).

However, while Messi and Ronaldo were the footballing protagonists of the decade, and while you probably are just reading this article to see who between them we’ve named the number one best footballer of the decade, there are plenty of other players on this list – and they’re all pretty good.

– We have a footballer who has won more trophies than any other footballer ever.

– A footballer so good he won the Ballon d’Or during CR7 and Messi’s decade of dominance.

– A footballer who revolutionised the game, and changed it forever.

And here they all are, ranked by the 90min team from 20-1. So, enjoy…or at least try to.  

20) Arjen Robben

By ?Jude Summerfield

You would imagine watching the same magician pull off the same trick for roughly 17 years would become a bit boring by the time of said magician’s retirement. 

Not Arjen Robben. 

The Dutchman captivated audiences around the world with his enigmatic style and wand of a left foot, and fans never tired of watching the winger cut in from the right, work a yard of space, and curl a strike into the top corner with such outrageous power.

Robben succeeded wherever he played, winning league titles in the Netherlands, England, Spain and Germany, and also starred as the Netherlands punched above their weight to secure second and third place finishes in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

Arjen Robben: The Flying Dutchman Who Became a Modern Legend at Bayern Munich

19) Mohamed Salah

By ?Robbie Copeland

Iconic simply doesn’t cover it for ?Salah, and his attitude towards the game has not only helped return Liverpool to what many believe they should be, but redefined what is expected of a modern attacker. He bears no arrogance and takes nothing for granted, yet carries himself with the confidence of a forward so cocksure that he could tell you the sky is orange and your first response would be to get your eyes checked.

Having long-since shaken the ‘Chelsea reject’ tag to become one of the most clinical forwards in the world over the course of the last five years, he will play out the remaining four years on his Liverpool deal, and potentially beyond, with nothing to prove to anyone but himself.

And that’s a prospect that may lead a generation of left-backs just not to bother. 

Mohamed Salah: The Humble King Who Conquered Rome and Took Liverpool By Storm

18) Sergio Aguero 

By ?Ed Alexander

From his breakthrough years as a teenager at boyhood club Independiente, to his glorious career with Manchester City, ?Sergio Aguero has been lethal. Goals are his food and drink, with the Argentine often hitting crucial winners for the Sky Blues since arriving from Atletico Madrid for £38m.

None have been more important, more iconic, than that last-gasp effort against QPR in 2012, when Aguero immortalised himself with one swing of his right boot. The striker painted Manchester blue in an instant, bringing to an end the misery of his adoring City supporters. From that moment on, the club has been transformed, and Aguero has been at the forefront of a devastating revolution.

Sergio Aguero: The Man Who Painted Manchester Blue With One Kick of a Football

17) Manuel Neuer 

By ?Max Cooper

It wouldn’t be a list of the world’s greatest players without the man who revolutionised the art of goalkeeping forever. Manuel Neuer was the perfect sweeper-keeper, and the German international became the benchmark for all budding goalkeepers, demonstrating a composure and skill on the ball to match his unbelievable cat-like reactions.

The 2014 World Cup winner was crowned UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year from 2011-2015, as well as lifting seven consecutive Bundesliga titles and a Champions League trophy with Bayern Munich.

Neuer will go down as the greatest goalkeeper of his generation, not only because of his logic-defying saves, but also for the fact that his bold style of goalkeeping changed the way every shot-stopper plays the modern game today. 

Manuel Neuer: The Bayern Munich & Germany Legend Who Revolutionised Goalkeeping

16) Eden Hazard 

By ?Tom Gott

From ripping it up in Ligue 1 to terrorising Premier League defenders, everything ?Eden Hazard has done in football has looked easy. The Real Madrid man has made a career out of making the impossible seem well and truly possible. The perfect blend of speed, agility and dribbling, there simply isn’t much that Hazard can’t do.

Capable of accelerating faster than Manchester United’s glory days disappeared, defenders around Europe have struggled to come anywhere close to Hazard when he has the ball at his feet. The Belgian magician had fans of both Lille and Chelsea in tears when he left, which speaks volumes of the impact he had on both clubs.

Eden Hazard: The Brilliant Belgian Who Mesmerised Fans Across the World

15) Zlatan Ibrahimovic 

By ?Ed Alexander

Dare to Zlatan. Dare to attempt the unthinkable. Dare to tear up the script and walk your own path. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is more than a mere footballer – he is an inspiration to countless fans, the world over, showing people that they do not need to conform to achieve success.

The Swede has collected over 500 goals, 13 league titles, and nine Ballon d’Or nominations in a marvellous, record-breaking career. Representing clubs from across Europe – plus LA Galaxy in the States – Zlatan has gained a reputation as a traveller who comes to visit, looks around, and conquers all before him.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: The Man Who Needs No Introduction

14) Toni Kroos 

By ?Andrew Headspeath

Rejection, injury and being criminally underrated have had virtually zero impact on Kroos’ trajectory. For the last ten years, ?Kroos has continued to play with an unwavering assurance in midfield, whether further forward or from deep. His clinical, low-profile style, ironically, has made him stand out in Galactico-studded teams, while helping him to a trophy cabinet with enough precious metal to match the GDP of some countries.

Consistently topping assist and passing accuracies charts; at pretty much any point in the last ten years if someone asked you to name the best central midfielders in the world, chances are Toni Kroos would’ve been in your top three answers.

Toni Kroos: The Underrated Jahrhunderttalent Who Was There for the Biggest Occasions

13) Giorgio Chiellini

By? ?Jack Gallagher

Giorgio Chiellini, above any other player of the past ten years, proved time and time again that he can, and will, do everything in his power to win.

Throw his body in front of every venomous shot? Check.

Head anything that comes within 20 yards of the penalty box? Check.

Leap into a 50/50 that he was 100/100 going to come out of feeling worse for wear? Check.

You name it, if it meant that Juventus or Italy would win, he would do it.

In an exorbitant number of the 507 games he has played for Juventus, Chiellini has busted his head wide open, broke his nose, turned his knee, rolled his ankle, had abdominal influenza (yes, the sh*ts), and STILL played on. STILL performed at the highest level. STILL dragged his team to famous win…after famous win…after famous win. 

That’s why Chiellini makes this list. He’s a winner, through and through. 

Giorgio Chiellini: The Juventus Legend Who Has Always Found a Way to Win

12) Marcelo 

By ?Ross Kennerly

Tasked with assuming the slot left for him by the legendary Roberto Carlos, few could have expected ?Marcelo would take ownership of that role as impressively as he has done.

An ever-present in the Real Madrid side, his consistency and tenacity were pivotal in his side’s domination of a competition that would become his niche. His predecessor claimed ‘just’ a trio of Champions League titles, while Marcelo’s boundless energy and Brazilian flair saw him accumulate that in just three seasons.

Taking into account the countless club successes and individual accolades that have glittered Marcelo’s career, the fact he is the only left-back on this list speaks for itself.

Marcelo: From Favela Kickabouts Under Grandad’s Watch to 4 Champions League Wins

11) Robert Lewandowski 

By ?Ben Carter

He might not have made it into 90min’s Definitive All-Decade XI, but Robert Lewandowski could have thrived in any team in history.

Poland’s best-ever player has the perfect balance of pace, power and technique, and Lewandowski is ageing like a fine wine, with his best years looking like they’re still to come.

The Bundesliga’s most prolific foreigner is among the most underrated players in football history and is deserving of a seat at the table in discussions over the who is the best striker of all time.

Robert Lewandowski: Bayern Munich’s Best Foreign Player & Europe’s Most Underrated Star in History

10) Neymar Jr. 

By ?Ben Carter

A global icon with limitless talent, ?Neymar was unsurprisingly tipped to succeed Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on world football’s throne throughout the early stages of his career.

The Brazilian has single-handedly produced some of the most iconic footballing moments of the 21st century and is even responsible for the greatest comeback in Champions League history.

Neymar’s career is far from over but he has a cloud hanging over him, unlike any other Ballon d’Or contender before him, with many still waiting for the Brazilian to put his unparalleled ability to use by reaching the pinnacle of the beautiful game

Neymar Jr: Brazil’s Generational Talent Who Dictated the Greatest Champions League Night in History

9) Gareth Bale 

By ?Jamie Spencer

Incredibly, ?Gareth Bale was once considered ‘cursed’ and a ‘jinx’ at Tottenham because he wasn’t on the winning side in a Premier League game in his first two years at the club. But he set himself on a path to superstardom with a famous Champions League hat-trick against Inter in 2010, utterly tormenting Maicon that night, and was soon the most expensive player in the world.

At Real Madrid, he has suffered with injuries and has had to battle sky high expectations, but a personal haul of four Champions League titles speaks for itself. What’s more, Bale was certainly not a passenger in those triumphs; as he played crucial roles in the final in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

Gareth Bale: The Cursed Talent Who Went on to Conquer Europe Four Times

8) Dani Alves 

By ?Chris Deeley

?Dani Alves, with eyes that could stare through your soul and enough gold medals to make a dragon’s eyes water with jealousy. Dani Alves, who’s won 25 club titles in this decade alone. Dani Alves? Dani Alves. 

The two-time Copa America winner should’ve been past his peak halfway through this decade, if that. Full-backing is a young, quick man’s game – especially in the modern era. Except Dani Alves has never played the traditional full-back game, because Dani Alves is better than other full-backs, all other full-backs, always, forever.

He ends this decade at the age of 36, playing back in Brazil after winning seven league titles in three different ‘top five’ leagues in the 2010s. He was, as a free agent, at 36, the player of the tournament at the Copa America 2019. Dani Alves is eternal. All hail Dani Alves.

Dani Alves: The Maverick Who’s Just Too Good to Be Copied

7) Franck Ribery 

By ?Max Cooper

Franck Ribéry is one of the Bundesliga’s most decorated servants, and his time at Bayern Munich will be remembered for his majestic grace on the ball, his tormenting of desperate full-backs and a consistent end product.

Ribéry was the star of Bayern’s left flank for 12 years, and won the Bundesliga title an unbelievable nine times. He also lifted the Champions League and reached a World Cup final with France in 2006.

Despite his advancing years, the diminutive Frenchman continues to light up the footballing stage, and is now the key player in an exciting Fiorentina side. The fun never stops with Franck. 

Franck Ribery: The Serial Entertainer Who Was Born to Win

6) Luis Suarez

By ?Wilf Dutton

Reserves of emotion are what make Suarez ?Suarez. They are what separate him from the other preeminent – and non-Lionel Messi/Cristiano Ronaldo – striker of his generation: Robert Lewandowski.

Where the Pole is all freakish efficiency, eastern European stoicism and mechanical majesty – yes, in this case ladies and gents, the international stereotypes really do ring true – Suarez is pent up South American passion.

Sometimes it’s controlled, sometimes it overflows with dire consequences, but it’s always there, pumping his blood, pervading his being, providing his motivation, pushing his talent to the edge.

It’s why he’s here. And it’s why he’ll stand the test of time.

Luis Suarez: The Uruguayan Heel Who Never Bit Off More Than He Could Chew

5) Andres Iniesta

By ?Matt O’Connor-Simpson

When he was 15 years old, Andres Iniesta impressed Pep Guardiola so much that the Man City manager (then a mere Barcelona player) turned to Xavi and said: “You will retire me, but this kid will retire us both.” 

He was right, on both accounts. 

Iniesta may not have been as flashy as some of the other members of this list but he was one of the best. The midfielder made the sublime look simple and impossible look even simpler. The enigmatic architect behind the best Barcelona team of all time, no wonder there were tears when he departed the Camp Nou pitch for the final time.

Andrés Iniesta: The Enigmatic Architect Behind the Best Barcelona Team in Modern History

4) Sergio Ramos

By ?Andrew Headspeath

Since the turn of the decade, ?Ramos has won two La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, four World Club Cups, the Copa del Rey twice (dropping one off a bus), the Euros and the World Cup.

For all his flaws and controversy, he will enter 2020 still at the pinnacle of football, named in FIFPro’s World Team of the Year – somewhat questionably mind you, but still there.

The hair has changed, the teeth have been whitened, the beard styled and the tattoos added but Ramos is still the apex predator, still the box-office centre-back, still football’s Big Bad, still one of the best around.

At the beginning of episode one in El Corazón de Sergio Ramos, there is also some B-roll of Madrid’s famous Puerta del Sol square, and the plaque that marks ‘Km.0’ (kilometre zero) from which all roads in Spain are measured. Ramos, for whatever else he might be, is ‘kilometre zero’ when comparing all other defenders, captains, villains and heroes.

Sergio Ramos: Football’s Big Bad Who Has Dominated the Sport Like No Other

3) Luka Modric 

By ?Jack Gallagher

You already know the reason ?Luka Modric is number three on the list of the greatest footballers of the past decade. 

It’s simple:

Luka Modric is number three on 90min’s list of the top 20 greatest footballers of the decade because he is one of three players during said decade to win the Ballon d’Or. 

See, simple. 

Luka Modric: The Only Other Ballon d’Or Winner of the Decade

2) Cristiano Ronaldo 

By ?Jamie Spencer

What more can you actually say about ?Cristiano Ronaldo that hasn’t already been said a thousand times over? This is a man with five Ballons d’Or, five Champions League titles and nearly 700 career goals for club and country, yet who is never truly satisfied and works harder than anyone to ensure he achieves his ever-higher targets.

Talent alone will only get a player so far and Ronaldo understood that from an early age. His utter dedication to his craft is second to none, while the incredible attention to detail he puts into looking after himself is what has kept him at such a high level for more than a decade. Most players never reach his level – certainly none can sustain it for long – bar just one other…

?Cristiano Ronaldo: The GOAT Contender Who Knows There Is No Substitute for Hard Work

1) Lionel Messi 

By ?Wilf Dutton

There is no current footballer comparable to ?Lionel Messi. Not one. Which is pretty incredible, not just because Cristiano Ronaldo exists, but also because – since his breakout all those years ago – the number of players that have attempted to emulate him has been staggering.

Every country across every continent has their own punditry-patented ‘Messi’ – the German Messi (Marko Marin, RIP), the Scottish Messi (Ryan *checks notes* Gauld?), the North Korean Messi (Jong Il-Gwan) etc etc – some of which we’ve been foolish enough to pledge our faith in. But these are all imitators, fakes, FRAUDS. 

They pale in comparison to the pasty champ. Because, when it’s all said and done, this world’s only big enough for one growth hormone-treated 5’7 footballer. And he needs no national prefix. 

He’s just Messi. Or the GOAT.

?Lionel Messi: One Man to Rule Them All & in the Darkness Bind Them