Lionel Messi has laughed off suggestions that his Barcelona team-mates think he is too dominant on and off the pitch.
The 25-year-old has become embroiled in heated debates with Cristian Tello, Isaac Cuenca and David Villa over the past two seasons, but Messi has stressed there are no problems between him and the rest of the dressing room.
“A little dictator? I don’t care what people say. My team-mates all know that I’m not like that,” Messi was quoted as saying by Sport.
“It is a privilege to be part of the best Barcelona ever. Not just for what we have achieved, but also because of the way we play.”
The Argentina international then went on to stress he is not affected by rival fans’ attempts to upset him by chanting Cristiano Ronaldo’s name.
“I do not care about those chants. It’s only normal that rival fans are trying to distract you.”
Messi also had his say on Real Madrid, and had nothing but praise for the Catalans’ arch-rivals.
“Madrid are one of the best teams in the world and games against them are always nice to play,” the forward told El Mundo Deportivo.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best, and Pepe is a great defender.”
Santos forward Neymar has stressed he has no intention of moving to Europe any time soon as he is happy with life at his current club.
The Brazil international is continually being linked with teams such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea, but Neymar feels the time is not yet right to leave his native country for a foreign adventure.
“I’m happy here in Brazil, I’m happy at Santos. I have a dream of playing in Europe, but it’s still not the right moment,” the forward told Reuters.
The 20-year-old then went on to voice his disappointment with Brazil’s disappointing 2011 Copa America campaign, and the Selecao‘s failure to win Olympic gold in London.
“We were very upset about the Copa America. A lot of people were upset about the Olympic Games, but none more so than us.
“However, I am very proud to have taken part in the Olympics and won a medal.”
Neymar feels Brazil are on the right track, though, ahead of the 2014 World Cup, and is confident they will hit top form when it matters most.
“The national team is on a very good upwards curve. We are creating our identity and the team is getting more confident and becoming tighter. In a short time, it will suit us, our Brazilian way of doing things and things will happen.
“Responsibility is always divided. Everybody does their part on the pitch. One man can’t do it alone. In the World Cup there will be 23 determined players, looking for the win. I will be just one more Brazilian, chasing after the title.”
Brazil last won the World Cup in 2002, when they beat Germany 2-0 in the final.
Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has dismissed rumours the Ligue 1 giants have approached Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.
La Gazzetta dello Sport suggested earlier this week that the capital club have set their sights on the Portugal international and were willing to pay up to €100 million for the forward, but Al-Khelaifi has made it clear there is no truth in the report.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is a great player, but he’s under contract with Real Madrid. I have not spoken with anyone at Madrid,” the PSG president was quoted as saying by AFP.
Les Parisiens were previously linked with the former Manchester United man after the 27-year-old revealed his unhappiness with life at Madrid earlier this season, but Al-Khelaifi then denied any concrete interest in the player.
Ronaldo has a contract with Los Blancos until the summer of 2015.
The 29-year-old has attempted to force through a move already this summer by not featuring on a pre-season tour with the club and has now refused to play for Martin Jol’s team until ge is transferred.
The dutch manager has insisted he would welcome Dempsey back into his squad readily, and that no bids have been made but the former Fulham striker is sure his compatriot would shine on Merseyside.
“If you’re asking me if I think Clint can succeed [at Liverpool]? For sure,” McBride told Goal.com. “He’s got not only the talent and the ability but he’s a very determined individual. He adapts extremely well to so many different situations.
“Take Fulham for example. He’s had four or five different coaches. He’s always put his head down and showed them what he’s made of.
“I think that’s a sign of not only a very good player but one that is able to adapt and make the transition regardless of who the manager is.”
McBride is currently playing with Wembley FC who, in partnership with American beer company Budweiser have been competing in this season’s FA Cup with several former stars including David Seaman, Ray Parlour and Graeme Le Saux.
The non-league outfit beat Langford 3-2 in the extra preliminary round clash recently and the former USA international is delighted to be part of the project.
“My mindset going through this is that I’ve been trying to get involved with grassroots soccer and Budweiser helped make the connection.
“I get a chance to do some coaching and some mentoring at a lower league level and really get to see the passion that goes into the game itself. These guys go through the same amount of training but still have jobs and have to work through all those different aspects.”
The long-serving Red Devils coach praised his side’s display despite failing to cope with the huge presence of Marouane Fellaini, who’s header in the second half won the game for the Toffees.
Van Persie made a late substitute appearance in his debut for the club, but failed to register a shot on target, as the visitors found it difficult to break down a hardworking and resolute Everton side.
“We played around him too much, we didn’t show enough penetration,” Ferguson told Sky Sports.
“With Robin in your team you know you want to use his ability against centre-backs in situations he is very good at – but we didn’t use him enough.”
Ferguson had to deploy a make-shift defence with Michael Carrick at centre-back and Antonio Valencia at right-back, with Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans all injured, but refused to criticise the backline despite struggling to cope with Fellaini.
“He [Fellaini] is a handful: he is a big, tall, gangly lad and they just lumped the ball forward to him, that’s all they did,” added Ferguson.
“They worked from that base all the time and they got a goal from him, so it’s justified.
“Centre-back is a problem but we coped quite well, I don’t think you can criticise their performance in that respect.
“It was just difficult to handle him when they were knocking these balls up to him.
“Michael did fine, good on the ball and applied himself well, they all applied themselves well.”
Sir Alex was also keen to praise goalkeeper David de Gea, who was in superb form in the first half and had made several key saves which kept the Red Devils in the game going into the break, and also stated that his team were the better side.
“We were the better football team, they had eight shots on target and De Gea did very well for us in that way,” he told MUTV.
“But we had the possession and made some great openings without actually finishing it. That was the only difference. These shots on targets the goalkeeper did really well.
“Other than that we played good football, good combination play, on another day we would have won the match.”
Former Brazil ace Pele has reopened the debate over who the world’s best player is, again lauding Santos starlet Neymar as the globe’s finest ahead of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and former Argentina player and coach Diego Maradona
The 1958 World Cup winner has an uneasy relationship with Maradona, with the pair often engaging in discussions over who is the world’s current and best ever footballers.
“For me, Maradona was a great player, but only really used his left leg. Messi resembles him in that sense,” the former Santos and New York Cosmos forward opined at a book unveiling in Sao Paolo.
“[Neymar] has the potential to overcome both by being more complete.”
Pele scored an astonishing 1,281 goals during his career, which spanned from 1956 to 1977. Neymar has so far racked up 133, and his admirer admits it will be hard for him to equal or better his tally.
“It is hard to say yes or no, but it will be difficult,” the 71-year old chuckled.
“Neymar is an exceptional player, but at times he has showed he is not mature enough for some responsibilities. He has ability.”
Neymar recently returned to his club following Brazil’s unsuccessful Olympic campaign, which saw them miss out on a gold medal following their 2-1 final loss against Mexico. The forward was often the subject of cheers at the event, and Pele believes this would have not happened in his time as a player.
“Today the players send a kiss to the camera and it appears worldwide. In my day, we had to play in every country to be known. It’s only because I didn’t play on the moon that I wasn’t famous there,” the Brazilian joked..
“We’re not yet in the best shape physically,” Ronaldo said after the game. “It is normal. We’ll be better, we are trying to.”
“We have tried everything, but still need to reach the highest level we can.
“The equaliser was a pity, we had given everything to win. We had many chances but it was not to be.”
Madrid will now turn their attentions to arch rivals Barcelona, who they face in the first leg of the Super Cup at Camp Nou on Thursday evening.