Insider: Neymar's Olympics, Copa compromise; Wenger safe at Arsenal
It’s still up in the air whether Neymar will participate in this summer’s Copa América Centenario for Brazil. National team coach Dunga met with Barcelona officials last week, but no agreement has been reached yet. Barça would like for Neymar to play in either the Copa or the Olympics, but not both. Neymar would like to do both and is now pitching the idea of playing in just the second half of the Copa América.
Because the Copa América is on the FIFA calendar and the Olympics is not, Barcelona would only be required to release Neymar for the Copa. But keep in mind: Brazil has never won the Olympic gold medal and wants to do so in Rio. Neymar was on the Brazil team that fell to Mexico in the gold medal game in London 2012, and would be one of the host nation's over-age players should he join the Olympic team.
Here are a couple more insider items from around the soccer world:
Wenger's job not in jeopardy
With Arsenal’s recent collapse in several tournaments, plenty of fans are wondering if manager Arsene Wenger’s job is in jeopardy. But everyone connected to Arsenal that I’ve spoken to says Wenger remains solidly in charge and secure in his post. That includes the support of CEO Ivan Gazidis and owner Stan Kroenke.
Wenger’s contract runs through May 2017. Last week at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, Kroenke gave a rare public talk and said: “I have to have some reality involved. If you want to win championships, then you would never get involved.”
NYCFC has no interest in dealing Poku
NYCFC midfielder Kwadwo Poku became something of a folk hero with the club last season, but he hasn’t played a minute in the first two games this season and wasn’t even in the 18 for NYCFC over the weekend despite being healthy.
I’m told that coach Patrick Vieira wants Poku to improve the tactical and mental sides of his game. Multiple MLS GMs said they would be interested in trading for Poku, but NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna was explicit when asked, saying the club has no interest in trading him and isn’t even listening to offers.