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

3 Comments

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.

Premier League state of play after Man City ban lifted

Leave a comment

Eight clubs, six five places.

Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal no longer have the eighth-place crutch when it comes to chasing a place in Europe.

Manchester City’s European ban has been lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, who ruled that City “did not disguise equity funding as sponsorship contributions but did fail to cooperate with the UEFA authorities” and reduced the club’s fine from $32 million to $11 million fine.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

This means two of the Premier League’s guaranteed four UEFA Champions League bids are sewn up with Liverpool and Man City guaranteed to finish first and second.

Want to know how this alters perspectives for the final three match days of the Premier League season (and the FA Cup)? Read on…

The field “shrinks” and Man City wins. Who loses?

This is especially bad news for Leicester City and Wolves. Both Leicester’s form and Champions League hopes have dropped significantly and the Foxes and their 59 points could sit fifth by the close of business Monday if Manchester United stays hot and beats Southampton (United is a heavy favorite).

Wolves had an outside shot of catching one of Chelsea, Leicester, or Manchester United for fifth but now are likely to need to win the Europa League to qualify for the UCL.

Obviously the lifting of the ban is not great news for the margins of error for Chelsea or Man United, but it hurts fellow traditional powers Tottenham and Arsenal a whole lot more.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners dipped to ninth place on Sunday when they lost the North London Derby to Spurs, and now are four points back of the final UEL spot held by Sheffield United (54 points). Spurs have 52. Burnley’s dreams of a second UEL berth are also stung, their 50 points level with Arsenal.


Arsenal’s new reality as wild card

The Gunners can no longer affect the fates of any team around them in the table via the league route, with matches left against confirmed champions Liverpool and relegation candidates Aston Villa and Watford.

They can also affect all of the teams around them by winning the FA Cup and eliminating seventh place as a UEL place.

Arsenal maxes out at 59 points. That would probably be enough for a Europa League place, but so would winning two FA Cup matches, easier said than done against Man City and then either Chelsea or Manchester United.

They’ll know a lot more about whether that could be their only route by about 5:15 pm ET Wednesday when they finish a league tilt against Liverpool. A loss to the champions would arguably make Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal versus Man City their last chance to avoid a first Europe-free season since 1996.


The biggest “swing” matches

As mentioned, the margins of errors have shrunk in a big way, and the final day of the season could be a blockbuster with the table’s current third through sixth place teams matching up on Decision Day.

Imagine if the table holds form and Wolves visit to Chelsea and Manchester United’s trip to Leicester City kick off at 11 am ET on July 26 with the Champions League on the line. Hashtag drama.

That assumes that Leicester City dodges a Thursday effort from Sheffield United, the Blades bidding to keep themselves in the discussion for a stunning berth in the UEL during their promotion year in the Premier League.

In fact, you might as well have a look at Leicester’s fixture list as the one that will determine European slotting. The Foxes control their destiny with a visit to Spurs sandwiched between home matches versus the seventh-place Blades and fifth-place (at the moment) Red Devils.


Remaining fixture lists of European candidates

Chelsea (60 points)

Monday v. Norwich City — 3:15 pm ET
July 22 at Liverpool — 3:15 pm ET
July 26 v. Wolves — 11 am ET

Leicester City (59 points)

Thursday v. Sheffield United — 1 pm ET
Sunday at Spurs — 11 am ET
July 26 v. Manchester United —  11 am ET

Manchester United (58 points)

Monday v. Southampton — 3 pm ET
Thursday at Crystal Palace — 3:15 pm ET
July 22 v. West Ham — 1 pm ET
July 26 at Leicester City — 11 am ET

Wolves (55 points)

Wednesday at Burnley — 1 pm ET
July 20 v. Crystal Palace — 3:15pm ET
July 26 at Chelsea — 11am ET

Sheffield United (54 points)

Thursday at Leicester City — 1 pm ET
July 20 v. Everton — 1 pm ET
July 26 at Southampton — 11 am ET

Tottenham Hotspur (52 points)

Wednesday at Newcastle — 1 pm ET
Sunday v. Leicester City — 11 am ET
July 26 at Crystal Palace — 11 am ET

Arsenal (50 points)

Wednesday v. Liverpool — 3:15 pm ET
July 21 at Aston Villa — 3:15 pm ET
July 26 v. Watford — 11 am ET

Burnley (50 points)

Wednesday v. Wolves — 1 pm ET
Saturday at Norwich City — 12:30 pm ET
July 26 v. Brighton — 11 am ET


Oh, why not? Predictions!

3. Manchester United — 68 points
4. Chelsea — 65 points
____________________________
5. Leicester City — 63 points
6. Wolves — 60 points
7. Spurs — 59 points
_______________________________
8. Sheffield United — 58 points
9. Arsenal — 56 points
10. Burnley — 56 points

FA Cup semifinal draw
Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic watched by Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Photo by Mark Leech/Offside via Getty Images)

Man City win appeal against UEFA Champions League ban

Manchester City win appeal
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester City have won their appeal against their two-year ban from UEFA competitions and will play in the Champions League next season.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said that most of the alleged Financial Fair Play (FFP) breaches against Manchester City from 2012-16, which were reported by UEFA, were “not established or time-barred” and that although City failed to cooperate with UEFA’s investigation, the two-year punishment was not warranted.

CAS statement

CAS said the club was cleared of “disguising equity funds as sponsorship contributions” and their fine was also reduced by a third to $11.3 million. Here is the statement in full from CAS:

“The CAS award emphasised that most of the alleged breaches reported by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) were either not established or time-barred. As the charges with respect to any dishonest concealment of equity funding were clearly more significant violations than obstructing the CFCB’s investigations, it was not appropriate to impose a ban on participating in UEFA’s club competitions for MCFC’s failure to cooperate with the CFCB’s investigations alone.

“However, considering i) the financial resources of MCFC; ii) the importance of the cooperation of clubs in investigations conducted by the CFCB, because of its limited investigative means; and iii) MCFC’s disregard of such principle and its obstruction of the investigations, the CAS panel found that a significant fine should be imposed on MCFC and considered it appropriate to reduce UEFA’s initial fine by two-thirds, i.e. to the amount of EUR 10 million.”

Manchester City statement

Manchester City released the following statement on the decision, as they are still in the Champions League this season and they lead Real Madrid 2-1 after the first leg of their Round of 16 clash

“Whilst Manchester City and its legal advisors are yet to review the full ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the Club welcomes the implications of today’s ruling as a validation of the Club’s position and the body of evidence that it was able to present. The Club wishes to thank the panel members for their diligence and the due process that they administered.”

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Manager Pep Guardiola was shown celebrating with his staff in a quickly deleted Instagram post, while players, fans and everyone connected with the club breathed a huge sigh of relief as the ban, which was announced in February, cast a huge shadow over the club as many believed star players, and maybe Pep, could leave if the ban was upheld.

What now for Premier League clubs?

This decision also has a huge impact on Premier League clubs chasing Champions League qualification this season as fifth place will no longer by a Champions League spot.

Man City will finish second in the Premier League and previously it was believed their UCL spot would be passed down to fifth place if their ban was upheld. Now there will be an almighty scrap between Chelsea, Leicester City, Manchester United and Wolves for third and fourth spot in the final three matchweeks of the season. It also has an impact on Europa League spots further down the table.

Many across the soccer landscape in Europe are now questioning whether FFP should remain, or at the very least be overhauled, as Manchester City having their entire two-year UEFA ban overturned came as a huge shock to many.

UEFA reaction

UEFA also released a statement as they admitted there was “insufficient conclusive evidence to uphold all of the CFCB’s conclusions in this specific case and that many of the alleged breaches were time-barred”.

However, European soccer’s governing body defended FFP rules overall.

“Over the last few years, Financial Fair Play has played a significant role in protecting clubs and helping them become financially sustainable and UEFA and the European Club Association remain committed to its principles.”

Manchester United – Southampton preview: How to watch, stream, odds

Manchester United - Southampton preview
Photo by Ian Hodgson/PA Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The door to third place is wide open for Manchester United when Southampton visits Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live at pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Chelsea’s weekend loss and Leicester City’s place on United’s docket means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s in-form men control their own destiny when it comes to finishing as high as third on the table.

STREAM MANCHESTER UNITED – SOUTHAMPTON LIVE

Southampton, for its part, can harbor outside hopes of a Europa League place, currently six points back of eighth place before Arsenal and Spurs play Sunday.


Team news

Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe remain the only absences for Manchester United.

Moussa Djenepo, Sofiane Boufal and Yan Valery are out for Saints and may not return this season, but Jannik Vestergaard could be back and gunning for a second goal against the Red Devils.


What they’re saying

Paul Pogba about what’s changed at Old Trafford: “We play more as a team than we did before, we enjoy it even more, we defend together, we attack together, and this team is stronger as well. The players who are on the bench or who don’t play every time, when they come on they help the team so the mentality is good and is right. All this together has put us where we are today.”

Ralph Hasenhuttl on improving Saints: “We want to be braver, but that can sometimes cause you problems, like against Arsenal when we make some mistakes. We need this decision making, because then we learn. If you don’t demand this, you cannot improve in this way. …In every regard you must get better. In this moment it looks like we can make this step, and the players are open-minded to go this way. This is important, otherwise you will always stay on the same level.”


Odds and ends (Full matchweek odds)

Saints are tied with Burnley as the biggest underdog of the weekend at +1050, but you see how that turned out for Nick Pope and the Clarets. United is a minus-375 favorite.

Jannik Vestergaard and Daniel James traded goals at St. Mary’s on Aug. 31 when 10-man Saints drew United.


Prediction

Can anyone slow United? Saints have already claimed a big win against a Mancunian power… and this would be a big moment for Hasenhuttl’s project. The teams are on the same amount of rest and all things equal you’d like the hosts to boot. United 2-1.


How to watch Manchester United – Southampton stream, start time

Kickoff: 3:15 pm ET Monday
TV Channel: NBCSN
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

NBC Sports Premier League schedule

4 Comments

The new NBC Sports Premier League schedule for the 2019-20 season has been released, with time and dates for the upcoming matchweeks confirmed and here’s how you can watch it all live on TV in the USA.

[ WATCH: Premier League video ] 

With games spread out across multiple days and many in separate time slots, there are lots of changes to your regular schedule as the league returns on June 17 after being suspended on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Games will be played in empty stadiums and at home venues.

The full TV schedule for the games this month are below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com, the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold and the new Peacock streaming service from NBC.

Below is the new schedule for the Premier League on NBC Sports from June 17 to July 22 , as we will release the dates and times for the final matchweek of the 2019-20 season when they become available and how to watch them in the USA.


Premier League: How to watch, schedule in USA (all times EST)

Matchday 29

Wednesday, June 17: Aston Villa 0-0 Sheffield United
Wednesday, June 17: Man City 3-0 Arsenal

Matchday 30

Friday, June 19: Norwich 0-3 Southampton
Friday, June 19: Tottenham 1-1 Man United
Saturday, June 20: Watford 1-1 Leicester
Saturday, June 20: Brighton 2-1 Arsenal
Saturday, June 20: West Ham 0-2 Wolves
Saturday, June 20: Bournemouth 0-2 Crystal Palace
Sunday, June 21: Newcastle 3-0 Sheffield United
Sunday, June 21: Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea
Sunday, June 21: Everton 0-0 Liverpool
Monday, June 22: Man City 5-0 Burnley

Matchday 31

Tuesday, June 23: Leicester 0-0 Brighton
Tuesday, June 23: Tottenham 2-0 West Ham
Wednesday, June 24: Man United 3-0 Sheffield United
Wednesday, June 24: Newcastle 1-1 Aston Villa
Wednesday, June 24: Norwich 0-1 Everton
Wednesday, June 24: Wolves 1-0 Bournemouth
Wednesday, June 24: Liverpool 4-0 Palace
Thursday, June 25: Southampton 0-2 Arsenal
Thursday, June 25: Burnley 1-0 Watford
Thursday, June 25: Chelsea 2-1 Man City

Matchday 32

Saturday, June 27: Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves
Sunday, June 28: Watford 1-3 Southampton
Monday, June 29: Crystal Palace 0-1 Burnley
Tuesday, June 30: Brighton 0-3 Man United
Wednesday, July 1: Everton 2-1 Leicester
Wednesday, July 1: Bournemouth 1-4 Newcastle
Wednesday, July 1: Arsenal 4-0 Norwich
Wednesday, July 1: West Ham 3-2 Chelsea
Thursday, July 2: Sheffield United 3-1 Tottenham
Thursday, July 2: Man City 4-0 Liverpool

Matchday 33

Saturday, July 4: Norwich City 0-1 Brighton
Saturday, July 4: Leicester 3-0 Crystal Palace
Saturday, July 4: Man United 5-2 Bournemouth
Saturday, July 4: Wolves 0-2 Arsenal
Saturday, July 4: Chelsea 3-0 Watford
Sunday, July 5: Burnley 1-1 Sheffield United
Sunday, July 5: Newcastle United 2-2 West Ham
Sunday, July 5: Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa
Sunday, July 5: Southampton 1-0 Man City
Monday, July 6: Tottenham 1-0 Everton

Matchday 34

Tuesday, July 7: Crystal Palace 2-3 Chelsea
Tuesday, July 7: Watford 2-1 Norwich City
Tuesday, July 7: Arsenal 1-1 Leicester City
Wednesday, July 8: Man City 5-0 Newcastle
Wednesday, July 8: Sheffield United 1-0 Wolves
Wednesday, July 8: West Ham 0-1 Burnley
Wednesday, July 8: Brighton 1-3 Liverpool
Thursday, July 9: Bournemouth 0-0 Tottenham
Thursday, July 9: Everton 1-1 Southampton
Thursday, July 9: Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United

Matchday 35

Saturday, July 11: Norwich City 0-4 West Ham
Saturday, July 11: Watford 2-1 Newcastle United
Saturday, July 11: Liverpool 1-1 Burnley
Saturday, July 11: Sheffield United 3-0 Chelsea
Saturday, July 11: Brighton 0-5 Manchester City
Sunday, July 12: Wolves 3-0 Everton
Sunday, July 12: Aston Villa 2-1 Crystal Palace
Sunday, July 12: Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal
Sunday, July 12: Bournemouth 4-1 Leicester City
Monday, July 13: Man United v. Southampton, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Matchday 36

Tuesday, July 14: Chelsea v. Norwich, 3:15 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 15: Burnley v. Wolves, 1 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 15: Man City v. Bournemouth, 1 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 15: Newcastle v. Tottenham, 1 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 15: Arsenal v. Liverpool, 3:15 p.m. ET
Thursday, July 16: Everton v. Aston Villa, 1 p.m. ET
Thursday, July 16: Leicester v Sheffield United, 1 p.m. ET
Thursday, July 16: Crystal Palace v. Man United, 3:15 p.m. ET
Thursday, July 16: Southampton v. Brighton, 3:15 p.m. ET
Friday, July 17: West Ham v. Watford, 3 p.m. ET

Matchday 37

Saturday, July 18: Norwich City v. Burnley, 12:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, July 19: Bournemouth v. Southampton, 9 a.m. ET
Sunday, July 19: Tottenham v. Leicester, 11 a.m. ET
Monday, July 20: Brighton v. Newcastle, 1 p.m. ET
Monday, July 20: Sheffield United v. Everton, 1 p.m. ET
Monday, July 20: Wolves v. Crystal Palace, 3:15 p.m. ET
Tuesday, July 21: Watford v. Man City, 1 p.m. ET
Tuesday, July 21: Aston Villa v. Arsenal, 3:15 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 22: Man United v. West Ham, 1 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 22: Liverpool v. Chelsea, 3:15 p.m. ET