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Christian Pulisic to Liverpool links continue

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For well over 12 months Christian Pulisic has been linked with a move to Liverpool, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

[ MORE: Pulisic speaks to JPW ]

The U.S. national team star, still just 18 years old, signed a new long-term deal at German giants Borussia Dortmund over the summer but the Pennsylvania native has once again been linked with a transfer to Liverpool to join his former manager Jurgen Klopp.

A report in the Daily Mirror in the UK suggests that if Barcelona’s Neymar moves to PSG, Barca will then push through a move for Liverpool’s Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho. If that happens then per the report Pulisic would be Klopp’s top replacement.

Pro Soccer Talk understands that Klopp and Pulisic keep in regular contact after the latter moved from Hershey, PA as a 15-year-old to sign for Dortmund who were then managed by Klopp.

Last summer speculation was rife that Liverpool were pushing hard to sign Pulisic, but Klopp was coy when we asked him just before the transfer window slammed shut. And before you accuse Klopp of tapping up another player (fans of RB Leipzig and Southampton are likely nodding their heads), it is believed the pair have a very close relationship with the German coach influential in helping Pulisic and his father settle into life overseas in 2015 when he moved to Germany.

Since then a lot has changed for Pulisic.

He’s become the main attacking threat from midfield for the U.S. national team, plus a regular for Dortmund as they reached the UEFA Champions League last eight, won the German Cup and finished third in the Bundesliga.

The hype is very real around Pulisic and although the talented teenager continues to impress each and every time he steps on the pitch, fans of the USMNT are trying not to get ahead of themselves.

In truth, he’s the most exciting attacking talent the U.S. has had since Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey burst onto the scenes and he has the potential — seven goals in 16 appearances for the USMNT is not half bad — to surpass both of their stunning international careers.

When it comes to Pulisic’s club career, many would suggest that staying in the Bundesliga for another two to three years would be the best for his development and then he’d still only be 21 or 22 if he decided it was time to move on in 2020. The world is at his feet and if he continues his rapid ascension then plenty of big money offers will come in if he ever wants to leave Dortmund, which again is another big question mark given their status in Europe and beyond.

The main question, at least for me, around this reported Liverpool interest is simple: how much would Pulisic cost? A rough estimate of $35-40 million may even be on the low side, considering Dortmund would know that Liverpool has a huge transfer fee of over $115 million, or more, coming in for Coutinho.

Everything suggests Pulisic will remain at Dortmund for the foreseeable future given their annual ability to challenge for the Bundesliga title and qualify for the UCL each season.

Klopp is keeping a close eye on his former protege.

Although Pulisic’s diminutive stature may be an issue for some around this move, anybody who has watched his breathtaking ability on the ball, pace and sublime awareness to navigate his way around the pitch know that moving to the Premier League would be something he’d take time to adjust to but would surely master.

It still seems a little early for Pulisic to be heading to the PL, but there’s no doubt the top clubs in England will soon be chasing him if he improves on his breakout season at Dortmund in 2016-17.

As long as Klopp is in charge at Liverpool, it’s likely they’ll be at the front of the queue.

Neymar says he’s staying at PSG; rumors “invented by the press”

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Neymar insists he is going nowhere this summer, that he’ll spend (at least) one more season at Paris Saint-Germain, and he intends to bring another handful of trophies back to the French capital in doing so.

[ MORE: PSG in “advanced negotiations” for N’Golo Kante, but must sell first ]

Speaking during a press conference on Friday, his first media availability session since Brazil were eliminated in the 2018 World Cup quarterfinals, the 26-year-old superstar went so far as to say that reports linking him with a move to other European mega-clubs (most notably, Real Madrid) were “invented by the press” — quotes from ESPN:

“Yes, I will stay in Paris. I have a contract with PSG. The speculation? The majority of it is invented by the press.

“I have a contract and people know the objective, the reason why I went to PSG. I want to win with this club and I hope this season will be wonderful.”

While it seems a no-brainer that PSG would want Neymar to stay, there’s unquestionably a case to be made that selling him would give them the financial flexibility needed to address needs elsewhere in the squad. N'Golo Kante, for instance, is reportedly transfer target no. 1 at the Parc des Princes, but sales will have to be made before a fee of that size can be paid, due to financial regulations.

Report: PSG in “advanced negotiations” for Kante, but must sell first

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N'Golo Kante might just be the best midfielder in the world, and he might just be leaving Chelsea for Paris Saint-Germain in the coming days or weeks, as French newspaper Le Parisien has reported that the defending Ligue 1 champions are in “advanced negotiations” over a mega-bucks contract with the World Cup winner.

[ Transfer Rumor Roundup: Everton bid for Richarlison, latest on Mbappe ]

The report goes so far as to say that a “provisional contract” has already been agreed. “Provisional,” in this instance, means there has likely been little — if any — contact between the two clubs thus far.

One major sticking point remains: following last summer’s outlandish spending spree, in which they shelled out nearly $500 million to sign Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, PSG are in serious danger of failing to comply with financial regulations set forth by UEFA and could/would be banned from European competition should they fail to achieve compliance.

The likes of Angel Di Maria, Goncalo Guedes, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Jese Rodriguez and Alphonse Areola have had their names floated as possible departures to recoup the necessary funds before paying another fee of (presumably) over $100 million.

[ MORE: Conte to sue Chelsea over how firing was handled ]

After helping the Blues to the Premier League title two seasons ago (and doing the same with Leicester City three campaigns gone by), Kante was powerless in saving Chelsea from themselves in 2017-18. They finished fifth in the PL and failed to qualify for this season’s Champions League.

Given his age — 27 — it’s wholly understandable that Kante would prioritize playing in club soccer’s top competition (while also making even more money) every season going forward. Throw in the fact that uncertainty is the only certainty at Stamford Bridge these days, and trading west London for Paris — where Kante was born — starts to sounds pretty good, pretty quickly.

18-year-old Vinicius ready to fight for minutes at Real Madrid

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Following in the footsteps of Neymar and Kaka, and Ronaldinho and Ronaldo before them, Vinicius Junior has been dubbed the next transcendent Brazilian superstar, and he’s ready to show why after being unveiled by Real Madrid on Friday.

[ Transfer Rumor Roundup: Everton bid for Richarlison, latest on Mbappe ]

The 18-year-old from the famed Flamengo youth academy will make his European debut next month when the new La Liga season kicks off, and he has every intention of being part of the first-team squad from the very beginning. While many South American starlets will move to a club the size of Real Madrid and spend a season or two (or more) out on loan as they continue to develop and adjust to life abroad, Vinicius is bullish on his ability to make an immediate impact — quotes from ESPN:

“I am staying at Real Madrid with the first team. I will play some games with Castilla [the youth team] to adapt as quickly as possible.

“I can do everything I did at Flamengo, and do better. I will show I am ready to play and show everything possible as quickly as I can. I know the adaptation will not be easy, but I am ready to do whatever is necessary.

“I am coming from Flamengo, another club with a lot of pressure. The people around me are here to help me with this. I never think of failing, just succeeding, winning as much as possible.”

“Football is a bit different here, but coach Lopetegui is helping me a lot, telling me what I must do, how I can improve. This is the best opportunity a football player can have.

“I will sacrifice a lot to show I deserve this opportunity. But sacrifice is not something new for me. I come from a very simple family, and am very proud of all they did for me and the values they have taught me.”

Vinicius’s $52-million transfer was agreed last summer, but FIFA rules stipulated that the player must be 18 before making the move abroad.

Sports court overturns AC Milan’s ban from Europa League

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — In a legal victory over UEFA, AC Milan is back in the Europa League after the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a ban imposed for overspending.

[ Transfer Rumor Roundup: Everton bid for Richarlison, latest on Mbappe ]

The court said Friday the punishment was “not proportionate” following a takeover completed last week, even though UEFA was right to judge Milan had broken financial monitoring rules.

The seven-time European champion had failed to approach breaking even on player transfers and wages over several seasons in which it failed to qualify for the top-tier Champions League.

UEFA was ordered to review the case and apply a “proportionate disciplinary measure,” the court said in an urgent ruling.

Milan’s reprieve was largely due to the takeover by a United States-based hedge fund which last year provided key finance to a Chinese-led purchase of the storied club.

In a statement Friday, European soccer body UEFA noted without comment that the case returns to the judging section of its club finance panel.

[ MORE: Conte to sue Chelsea over how firing was handled ]

The verdict was given Friday without detailed reasons from a three-judge panel, one day after a hearing at the highest court in world sports.

An urgent ruling was needed because the case affected Italy’s entry in the Europa League second qualifying round next week.

Milan’s legal win restores the club’s place in the group stage which kicks off in September. Atalanta, which placed seventh in Serie A, goes back into the qualifying rounds and plays Sarajevo in a first-leg game in Bosnia-Herzegovina on Thursday. Fiorentina, which placed eighth last season, is now withdrawn from the Europa League.

Milan broke UEFA’s financial fair rules which monitor finances over a three-year assessment period of all clubs qualifying to enter the Champions League or Europa League.

When it was banned last month, Milan said it failed to break even on soccer-related business in the period from July 2014 to June 2017 — before its spending spree one year ago.

[ MORE: Goalkeeper Alisson completes record transfer to Liverpool ]

Milan spent nearly $250 million on new players. This was despite questions over the financial stability of the Chinese-led consortium that purchased the club from former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for $800 million in April 2017.

The team finished sixth in Serie A, missed out on the four Italian places in the Champions League, and qualified for the Europa League.

However, the court said UEFA had not “properly assessed” some relevant points in Milan’s case, and the club’s finances improved after the takeover.

Elliott Management has promised to inject $66 million in capital.

Former owner Li Yonghong missed a deadline to repay part of a loan worth more than $350 million from the hedge fund. Elliott repossessed the holding company in Luxembourg that Li used to buy Milan.

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