Football transfer rumours: Neymar dreaming of Messi reunion at Barça?

Today’s fluff needs something to rely on

Neymar is sad and bored and lonely in Paris and is dreaming of a return to Barcelona, says Mundo Deportivo. “Paris is a great city,” it notes, “but its climate is not that of Barcelona, nor is the Parc des Princes the Camp Nou or the Seine the Mediterranean.” The Brazilian continues to shower his former teammates, who he left so willingly in 2017, with messages concerning a move back to Spain. “Neymar longs for his old club and his old teammates, especially Lionel Messi, as well as his old life in Barcelona and the greatness of his old club,” it writes. These feelings have never been reciprocated, with many at Barcelona still scarred by the betrayal they saw in the Brazilian’s departure. “However lately this perception has changed,” Mundo Deportivo continues, “and the return of the Brazilian is already being considered as a plausible possibility.”

That’s as may be. But several members of the Barcelona team, including Gerard Pique, Lionel Messi and Samuel Umtiti, appear to think priorities should lie elsewhere and are campaigning for the club to buy Paul Pogba, says the Daily Mail. “Manager Ernesto Valverde is also keen,” it reports. So with the manager, their greatest player and a host of other dressing-room regulars all behind the move, and the club coffers assumed to be bulging with booty, it looks as if the move is bound to happen – except the Mail also reports that profits are down to a meagre £10m, and not everyone is in favour of the deal happening anyway. “Barcelona scouts are split,” it says, “with some believing the club’s slick passing game requires midfielders who take fewer risks on the ball and have greater positional sense.”

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via Football | The Guardian

Online aggression skews debate over suspended West Ham youth coach | Jacob Steinberg

Disreputable or an individual’s right? Battle lines on social media have sent the temperature soaring regarding the actions of West Ham’s Mark Phillips

When Kick It Out contacted West Ham about the youth coach who went on the Democratic Football Lads Alliance march through central London last Saturday, football’s anti‑discrimination organisation was not trying to stir the pot. Its aim was not to land Mark Phillips in hot water. It had an obligation to act after receiving an anonymous report about Phillips appearing to align himself with an organisation accused of Islamophobia and of having links with far-right groups.

Yet the temperature inevitably rose on Twitter as soon as the Guardian broke the story about Phillips on Tuesday morning. For people who see nothing wrong with the Democratic Football Lads Alliance, a group condemned by anti-racist campaigners, it was a case of political correctness gone mad. Because it had acted on an anonymous complaint against the coach of West Ham’s Under-18s, Kick It Out was accused of being snowflakes who wanted to shut down free speech and, even more bizarrely, of being the real fascists.

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via Football | The Guardian

Footballer dropped from Italian team for supporting far right

Teammates of Concetta ‘Titty’ Astarìta refused to play after she was dropped from pro-integration Afro-Napoli side

From the stands of the Scarfoglio stadium, just outside Naples, fans on Sunday anxiously awaited the teams’ arrival. The game should have begun 15 minutes earlier, but one of the teams had not even entered the changing room. And it never would.

The Afro-Napoli United players were staying off the pitch in protest at the exclusion of their 27-year-old captain and midfielder, Concetta “Titty” Astarìta, by the club’s managers over her decision to run as a member of a political coalition headed by Matteo Salvini’s far-right League in upcoming local elections.

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via Football | The Guardian

Karen Carney spot on but Chelsea find Fiorentina hard nuts to crack

• Women’s Champions League: Chelsea 1-0 Fiorentina
• Carney 8 pen

Chelsea shook off their crushing defeat by Arsenal and moved to within touching distance of a place in the Champions League quarter-finals after a penalty from Karen Carney gave them a first-leg lead against Fiorentina. Only superb goalkeeping from Stephanie Ohrstrom denied them a bigger margin of victory.

Emma Hayes made seven changes to the side who lost 5-0 at home to Arsenal on Sunday. With Fran Kirby, Millie Bright, Ramona Bachmann and Magda Ericsson the only players to retain their places, among the fresh legs were the captain, Carney, the former Liverpool captain Sophie Ingle and the New Zealand captain Ali Riley. The idea being to supply the leadership and grit sorely lacking against Arsenal.

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via Football | The Guardian