Football

Valverde: Neymar is happy at Barca

French sports daily L'Equipe reported yesterday that Neymar has agreed terms to a five-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain.

The stumbling block in the move is the 222-million-euro (S$352.3 million) transfer fee, which the French club are trying to get Barcelona to reduce.

Neymar, serene amid a frenzy of transfer speculation, scored the first-half goal that gave Barcelona a 1-0 victory over Manchester United in an International Champions Cup match in Washington yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, however, rubbished reports that Neymar has played his last game for them, insisting that the Brazilian is "happy" at the club.

"Neymar was very happy...speaking with some friends from Manchester," Valverde said after his side's 1-0 win over Man United. "He's here with us, he's fine."

Valverde believes Man United are back on the up - and would not want to face them in this season's Champions League.

"Obviously, it hasn't been well lately, but I mean they won the Europa League," said Valverde.

"This year, they are going to be in the Champions League. Their presence by itself is impressive. They impress.

"I think they are going to be a really hard team to beat.

"For me, they are contenders to win and they are going to be hard to beat in the Premier League and the Champions League.

"I wouldn't want to face them in the Champions League."

Meanwhile, United boss Mourinho was especially pleased with the performance of world-record signing Paul Pogba, saying he has a player in the same bracket as Lionel Messi, Neymar and Co.

"Messi and Neymar, there is only one: one Messi and one Neymar, there are not two," he said.

"Their relation with the ball is amazing.

"But I have to say one of my players today, Paul Pogba, he showed the level. He showed that he belongs to that level." - WIRE SERVICES

eplManchester UnitedJose Mourinho