Insider Notes: Real Madrid eyes Neymar; Bob Bradley's motivation
If Real Madrid is able to avoid its FIFA transfer ban until after this summer, look for the Spanish giant to make a serious run at landing Barcelona star Neymar during the next transfer window, a source close to the Real Madrid bosses says.
According to a separate source close to Neymar, he and his people are expecting pursuit from Real Madrid, PSG and Manchester United this summer, even if he signs a new contract with Barcelona. The clubs think Barcelona might be willing to sell Neymar sooner rather than later due to Barcelona’s growing debt problems. Keep in mind, Neymar is still just 24 years old and has a long career ahead of him. He signed with Barcelona in 2013.
Real Madrid having interest in Neymar is nothing new. A source says that while Neymar was playing for Santos, a deal to join Real Madrid was "98% done," with the player going as far as having a medical with the club.
Stars playing for Barcelona and Real Madrid is unusual but far from unprecedented, even among the world's biggest names. Players like current Barcelona manager Luis Enrique and Brazilian legend Ronaldo have done so, while Portugal icon Luis Figo and Danish great Michael Laudrup are the most prominent ones to move directly from one club to the other.
Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid were hit with transfer bans in January for signing players under the age of 18 before they were permitted to. Both of their bans are temporarily suspended while under appeal.
Here are a couple of more insider notes from around the world
Bradley uses Tony Parker as motivation
Former U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley is at it again in his quest to become the first American to manage in one of Europe’s top five leagues. After taking over midseason at Le Havre in France’s Ligue 2, Bradley now has his club in third place and among the three promotion spots to the French top flight with six games to go.
Le Havre has won five of its last seven games and has a big home showdown against second-place Nancy next weekend. Bradley said he has used his entire toolbox of coaching ideas to motivate his players. That includes showing them a video of Frenchman Tony Parker talking about how much he had to learn from Gregg Popovich as a rookie with the San Antonio Spurs—the idea being that Parker would resonate with his French players.
It makes sense: There’s a lot of Popovich in Bradley when you think about it.
Stillitano responds to criticism
Charlie Stillitano is the best-connected American in European soccer thanks to his role organizing the International Champions Cup for top European clubs in their summer preseasons here over the last decade. But Stillitano became a social media piñata in England last month after he organized a meeting of England’s big five clubs and was quoted in an AP story saying the richest clubs were talking about forming a European super-league outside the UEFA Champions League, or at the very least changing the Champions League format to favor richer clubs.
This week Stillitano told me he thinks he was targeted in England as a clear case of anti-Americanism, especially since the ideas aren’t his but are coming from top clubs like Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Manchester United. And given the power vacuum at UEFA right now, big Champions League changes really could happen.