A $218 million bid? $360 million price tag? Neymar, Manchester United saga raising eyebrows

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Neymar’s agent was at Old Trafford for Manchester United’s weekend clash with Newcastle United, jumpstarting the unlikely rumors that the Brazilian superstar could be en route to the Theater of Dreams.

And as crazy as it sounds, the reports have done two things for the world of soccer:

  1. Taught us how willing the media is to run with unlikelihood
  2. Shown us some crazy big transfer fees

At some level, this Neymar story is perfect. We rarely get to see a megastar, still on the verge of his prime years, change clubs. So the deals we see are usually on potential, star power or name quality.

With Neymar, we get to see all three. And the prices are staggering.

[ MORE: Henry says Arsenal needs two signings ]

Reports from Brazil’s GloboEsporte say that United have bid approximately $218 million for Neymar — the price tag of his release clause — but that’s nothing compared to the report that Red Devils executive is willing to pay up to $360 million for the star, hoping to make the man the flagship of his business.

That’s 3.6 million $100 replica kits. For comparison, United and Real Madrid duke it out annually for most replica shirts sold as a club. The number in 2013-14 was around 1.5 million.

The Guardian says Neymar has told United he’s interested in joining their club, but that the Premier League outfit is well aware that it could be a ploy to get a new, rich deal from Barcelona.

Neymar is signed through 2018 at Barcelona, and president Josep Maria Bartomeu doesn’t expect him to go:

“We do not want Neymar to leave,” the Blaugrana supremo told Radio Catalunya . “He is young and we want him to retire here at our club.”

Yet could they turn down $360 million? Even at Barca, that number is bonkers.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback — Round 3 ]

There’s another level to this, and it involves setting the market. $360 million is close to three Gareth Bales (Sold for 85 million pounds). So perhaps it’s the same thing as Bale with a closely-cropped haircut. The repercussions would be staggering, raising the fees for mid-level players as well and lighting a fuse connected to Financial Fair Play and fiscal responsibility.

In any event, even considering the numbers above it would be shocking if any Neymar sale happened before Sept. 1. Barcelona doesn’t get the influx of players it bought this summer until after its transfer ban is lifted ahead of the January window. And with Pedro sold, the money would only help the club if they had a replacement ready right away.

Still, the saga is showing us something new, and something bonkers. We’ve gotten used to big numbers in the transfer world, but nothing like this.

Bayern extends lead in Bundesliga to 4 points (video)

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich extended its lead in the Bundesliga to four points with a 1-0 win over Werder Bremen on Saturday.

Niklas Sule scored in the 75th minute with Bayern’s 22nd shot of the game, his effort taking a deflection off Bremen’s Davy Klaassen.

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Bremen lost Milos Veljkovic to a second yellow card around the hour mark at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern leads with 70 points and has four games left. Second-place Borussia Dortmund, which plays Freiburg on Sunday, has 66 points.

Also Saturday, Augsburg thrashed relegation-threatened Stuttgart 6-0 and Bayer Leverkusen beat 17th-place Nuremberg 2-0.

Mainz beat Fortuna Duesseldorf 3-1 in a mid-table clash.

More AP German soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Ayoze Perez hat trick leads Newcastle past Southampton (video)

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  • Newcastle now 10 points clear of 18th
  • Perez scores both Magpies goals
  • Southampton five points ahead of drop zone

Ayoze Perez a hat trick as Newcastle United held off Southampton’s second half charge in a 3-1 win at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

Mario Lemina scored a beauty for Saints in a game of high quality goals.

Newcastle goes 12th with 41 points, while Saints remain 16th with 36.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Newcastle wanted a penalty when an early shot from Ayoze Perez was blocked by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg‘s arm.

Miguel Almiron took a Salomon Rondon flick and hit a wayward cross that Angus Gunn slapped wide of the goal.

The dam burst near the half-hour mark, when Perez scored both of his goals.

The first came with a fine, physical dribble right which the Spaniard punctuated with a hard shot across his body and inside the far post.

Then it was 2-0 within four minutes, Perez sliding onto the end of a Rondon cross to slap the ball inside the goal.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

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Saints deserved a goal and nearly had one through Maya Yoshida before Lemina answered the bell.

Off the bench, the ex-Juve midfielder scored from 21 yards after Stuart Armstrong and Nathan Redmond combined to set the table.

But Matt Ritchie‘s diving header was redirected by Perez for an 87th minute insurance goal and the completion of a fine hat trick.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Pellegrini ready for VAR after West Ham draw Leicester City

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West Ham United manager Manuel Pellegrini knows his side played well enough for three points in its 2-2 draw with Leicester City, but also is well aware that the Irons should’ve had three goals before the Foxes’ nabbed their second equalizer of Saturday’s match at the London Stadium.

[ RECAP: West Ham 2-2 Leicester ]

Lucas Perez’s would-be brace wouldn’t stand when the linesman’s flag was raised for what should’ve been an insurance goal for the hosts, who were very good on the day.

But Leicester would score through Harvey Barnes in stoppage time to eke out a point in London.

“I think we deserved more than a draw,” Pellegrini said.

“We should have been leading 3-1 but it was a mistake of the linesman. Yes, I’ve seen the goal again and he was one meter onside. There is nothing you can do about that. Next season when we have VAR it can be more fair.”

Still two switched-off moments cost the Irons a win nearly as much as the linesman’s flag.

“We generally played well but you cannot concede two goals.”

Fulham win second-straight, beat Bournemouth (video)

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  • Mitrovic’s penalty kick the winner
  • Second-straight win for Fulham
  • 3 defeats in 4 for Bournemouth 

Already-relegated Fulham beat Bournemouth 1-0 at a sunny Vitality Stadium on Saturday, as Aleksandar Mitrovic scored the only goal of the game to secure Fulham’s first away win of the season.

Mitrovic’s penalty kick came in the second half, as an even game saw the Cottagers edge it and caretaker boss Scott Parker has done his chances of getting the full-time job no harm at all with back-to-back PL wins against Everton and Bournemouth.

With the three points Fulham remain in 19th and are on 23 points, while Bournemouth sit in 12th on 41 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Callum Wilson raced in on goal early on but lifted his effort over the bar, and Bournemouth did all the pressing as Fulham struggled to get out of their own half and Josh King then fired over when it looked easier to score.

At the other end Nathan Ake cleared a header from a corner off the line, then Mitrovic flashed a shot over the bar but was offside.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Ryan Fraser forced Sergio Rico into a smart stop across his goal after a trademark surging run forward, as Bournemouth turned the screw. Bournemouth were forced into an early change as Junior Stanislas (who only replaced Adam Smith in the team just before kick off) went off with a knee injury and youngster Jack Simpson replaced him.

Mitrovic was then denied by a great last-ditch tackle by Steve Cook as Fulham improved, and from the resulting corner Denis Odoi‘s flicked header was saved well by Artur Boruc.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

At the start of the second half Fulham went ahead, as Simpson clattered into Mitrovic to give away a clear penalty kick. Mitrovic stepped up and sent Boruc the wrong way to end his drought of nine games without a goal and put Fulham 1-0 up.

Ryan Sessegnon weaved his way into the box and forced Boruc into a save at his near post as the visitors dominated the play in the second half.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Fraser flashed a shot just wide and Bournemouth threw everything at Fulham late on, with Rico denying Wilson and then Maxime Le Marchand coming up with a huge block.

David Brooks‘ cross hit the top of the crossbar and then Lys Mousset sent a late header straight at Rico, and that was as close as Bournemouth came to an equalizer as boos rang out from the home fans at the final whistle.