Brazil soccer star Neymar

World-class soccer player Neymar leads the Brazil team at the Olympics.

Ronaldo is ahead of Messi and Neymar – Totti

The Roma and Italy legend has given his opinion on the FIFA Best Player awards and believes it will be another joyous night for Real Madrid

Ronaldo is ahead of Messi and Neymar – Totti

The Roma and Italy legend has given his opinion on the FIFA Best Player awards and believes it will be another joyous night for Real Madrid

Money, betrayal and lost love: The bitter public divorce of Neymar and Barcelona

The Brazilian forward left the Catalan club in acrimonious circumstances in August and two months on, Goal looks at how the relationship deteriorated

Money, betrayal and lost love: The bitter public divorce of Neymar and Barcelona

The Brazilian forward left the Catalan club in acrimonious circumstances in August and two months on, Goal looks at how the relationship deteriorated

Money, betrayal and lost love: The bitter public divorce of Neymar and Barcelona

The Brazilian forward left the Catalan club in acrimonious circumstances in August and two months on, Goal looks at how the relationship deteriorated

Money, betrayal and lost love: The bitter public divorce of Neymar and Barcelona

The Brazilian forward left the Catalan club in acrimonious circumstances in August and two months on, Goal looks at how the relationship deteriorated

Jose Mourinho: I'm certain I will not end my career at Manchester United

Jose Mourinho has ruled out spending the rest of his career at Manchester United. The United manager said in an interview with French television that he was certain he would work elsewhere. Mourinho was appointed by United in May 2016 and led the club to the Europa League title last season. His side are vying with neighbours Manchester City for top spot in the Premier League this term, but Mourinho is keeping his future options open. He told TF1's Telefoot programme: "The only thing I can say is that I'm still a coach with worries, with ambitions, and with the desire to do new things. "And I don't believe... no, I'm sure that I won't end my career here." Asked if that meant at Manchester United, Mourinho said: "Yes." Neymar left speechless by PSG move 00:35 Mourinho was responding to the question of whether he might one day be tempted to join Paris St Germain. The club that broke the world transfer record by paying £200.6million to bring in Neymar from Barcelona in the summer have previously been linked with the Portuguese. And Mourinho explained his son has taken the French capital giants to his heart. "The other day, my son who lives in London went to Paris and not to Manchester to watch the match," Mourinho said. PSG shirt sales rose by 10 per cent on the day Neymar signed Credit: AFP/Getty Images Asked why his son chose that option, Mourinho said: "Because at the moment in Paris there is something special. Magic, quality, youth, it's fantastic." Former translator Mourinho, who showed his multilingual skills by conducting the interview in French, has previously had high-profile spells in charge of Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

Jose Mourinho: I'm certain I will not end my career at Manchester United

Jose Mourinho has ruled out spending the rest of his career at Manchester United. The United manager said in an interview with French television that he was certain he would work elsewhere. Mourinho was appointed by United in May 2016 and led the club to the Europa League title last season. His side are vying with neighbours Manchester City for top spot in the Premier League this term, but Mourinho is keeping his future options open. He told TF1's Telefoot programme: "The only thing I can say is that I'm still a coach with worries, with ambitions, and with the desire to do new things. "And I don't believe... no, I'm sure that I won't end my career here." Asked if that meant at Manchester United, Mourinho said: "Yes." Neymar left speechless by PSG move 00:35 Mourinho was responding to the question of whether he might one day be tempted to join Paris St Germain. The club that broke the world transfer record by paying £200.6million to bring in Neymar from Barcelona in the summer have previously been linked with the Portuguese. And Mourinho explained his son has taken the French capital giants to his heart. "The other day, my son who lives in London went to Paris and not to Manchester to watch the match," Mourinho said. PSG shirt sales rose by 10 per cent on the day Neymar signed Credit: AFP/Getty Images Asked why his son chose that option, Mourinho said: "Because at the moment in Paris there is something special. Magic, quality, youth, it's fantastic." Former translator Mourinho, who showed his multilingual skills by conducting the interview in French, has previously had high-profile spells in charge of Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

Exclusive interview: Why Monaco will continue to be successful despite selling over £300m worth of talent

Monaco did not expect to sell Kylian Mbappe last summer. They did not expect any club to come close to their valuation – an astronomical €180 million (£162m) – for the 18 year-old, but then Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid both did just that in what turned out to be an astonishing transfer window. And for the French champions, in particular. Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva to Manchester City, Tiemoue Bakayoko to Chelsea and Mbappe to PSG. It was a new ‘world record’ for transfer fees for one club. “€360m (£321m), or thereabouts,” says Vadim Vasilyev, Monaco’s vice-president, when asked how much had been brought in. “And it could have been more,” he adds. Offers for Thomas Lemar from Liverpool and then Arsenal, who bid €100m (£90m), were rejected and Monaco also refused to sell Fabinho. They could – if they had wanted – have banked €500m (£446m) in one transfer window alone, as Vasilyev acknowledges. “Absolutely, it could have been close to half a billion,” he says, without batting an eyelid. It is just over four months since we last met, in Paris, for an interview just hours after Monaco had won the French league title – for the first time in 17 years – in a season in which they went through the qualifying rounds to the semi-finals of the Champions League with an exciting, young, attacking team. Then Vasilyev had predicted there would be “quite a few” bids for Monaco’s players and it would be a battle to stop the team from breaking up. Monaco exodus | The players sold this summer In the end it was not just a few vultures circling but a whole flock, although while Vasilyev admits “clubs are coming after us all the time” there is a simple premise that he adheres to which makes Monaco economically viable. “We understand that we are basically a selling club, and we accept that,” he says. We meet in Vasilyev’s office inside the Stade Louis II. There is, behind his desk, a framed Thierry Henry No 12 Monaco shirt, a reminder that there has always been a history of developing players and the 52-year-old Russian, who runs the club on a day-to-day basis, adds: “The likes of Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet, Lilian Thuram came out of this academy so what has happened with him (Mbappe) re-confirms our top status.” It has to be that way. To understand, fully, the Monaco story it is best to rewind to December 2011. Then the club was in the French second division but was bought by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, a petro-chemical magnate, who lavished money on it. Hundreds of millions were spent with Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho signed as Monaco made waves. Vadim Vasilyev inside his Monaco office Credit: EPA But then they quickly fell foul of Uefa’s Financial Fair Play rules because they did not have the commercial revenues to balance the books while, at the same time, Rybolovlev could not carry on spending. So Monaco have become self-sufficient and sustainable. They have worked the transfer market to make money and still be successful by selling the idea to talented young players – such as Youri Tielemans, who they bought from Anderlecht for £21.6m to replace Bernardo – that they can go there, play at a high level and move on. From the transfer fees, €50m is now being invested in the training ground and €100m to upgrade the stadium. “It’s not about making so much money,” Vasilyev explains. “We want to be successful and this is just a consequence of being successful. Because what is different is we have very limited resources, revenues, compared to Premier League clubs. I mean, in ticketing, we make in one domestic season the same as Arsenal makes in one game. The bottom team of the Premier League makes almost three times more than we do being on the top (of the French league) as champions. And we want to be competitive on a European level, which we are, so we have to be different and that means we have to be successful in transfers.” Monaco influx | The players bought this summer So what about last summer? “I knew there would be interest but I probably under-estimated the interest,” Vasilyev says. But he planned. Deals for Tielemans and Soualiho Meite, from Lille, were lined up to plug the midfield gap while the Brazilian full-back Jorge was signed to cover for Mendy. All three are, Vasilyev believes, future stars. “Like when we understood the Mbappe deal was very close we really accelerated for Keita Balde (from Lazio) but it’s not easy,” he says. Even so, the Mbappe move went down to the wire with, finally, an unusual season-long loan agreed and will be followed by the second-highest fee ever after Neymar’s world-record €222m transfer to PSG. “The price for Mbappe was fixed. It was fixed because everyone thought it was not possible. We didn’t really want to part with him,” Vasilyev says. “We knew it had to be something extra, extraordinary. There was interest but it did not seem likely.” Kylian Mbappe has teamed up with Neymar at PSG Credit: AFP It was between Real Madrid and PSG – “the other clubs were really circling around, talking to us but the only other one that became public was this one (Madrid),” Vasilyev says – with Mbappe’s desire to return to Paris sealing it. “The boy wanted to go. It’s a great project, I have to admit that, and it’s a club that aspires to win the Champions League, and playing alongside Neymar made it even more attractive for him,” Vasilyev says. “So as long as it (the loan deal) was legal and we were not breaking any rules we said ‘ok, we accept our player wants to join this team’. Initially we didn’t want that to happen. “Me, personally, I didn’t see him in Paris but I listened to all his arguments and tried to understand his feelings. He was born in Paris, he comes from Paris and he deemed it was too early for him to leave France which was also an argument. So we decided if the conditions were roughly on the same level as the other offer we have then, okay, we will let him go. But it was hard. He’s really incredible. I’m sure he will be a future Ballon D’Or (winner).” Kylian Mbappe is already making waves at PSG Credit: AFP Interestingly, Vasilyev, despite the transfer successes, says he is fully in favour of closing the window early. “We care about the game. If we do that we should stop the transfer market before the domestic leagues start,” he says. “You saw the stress with Coutinho and Barcelona, and we had it with Mbappe, Lemar, Fabinho, and it has nothing to do with fair sports competition. The Premier League has made its decision (to close the window early) but it has to be across the market and it’s up to Fifa to make a stance. Talking to my colleagues across the different leagues, there is a consensus. It’s got out of hand. It’s crazy.” Does part of him wish, given Monaco’s on-field success, that he could have just kept last season’s team together? “It’s true,” Vasilyev says. “It’s a mixed feeling. It’s not about transfer records but at the same time I know that letting players go is part of our model so that other players will choose Monaco and once they know where our players will eventually go then you know when they have a choice they will choose us. Monaco's money machine | Players for the future “It’s not because of the money it’s because they know this is the perfect club where if they do well, then they can reach their dream of playing for a top club. Tielemans or Keita Balde this summer could have chosen a bigger club but they know our selling point.” Even so, the number of changes can be unsettling and, on Tuesday, Monaco are at home to Besiktas knowing they already need a win if they are to get through their Champions League group. “It’s a turning game,” Vasilyev says. “We will do our utmost because it’s our ambition to compete on a European level. We know we cannot be successful every year but we will do everything that it takes.”

Exclusive interview: Why Monaco will continue to be successful despite selling over £300m worth of talent

Monaco did not expect to sell Kylian Mbappe last summer. They did not expect any club to come close to their valuation – an astronomical €180 million (£162m) – for the 18 year-old, but then Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid both did just that in what turned out to be an astonishing transfer window. And for the French champions, in particular. Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva to Manchester City, Tiemoue Bakayoko to Chelsea and Mbappe to PSG. It was a new ‘world record’ for transfer fees for one club. “€360m (£321m), or thereabouts,” says Vadim Vasilyev, Monaco’s vice-president, when asked how much had been brought in. “And it could have been more,” he adds. Offers for Thomas Lemar from Liverpool and then Arsenal, who bid €100m (£90m), were rejected and Monaco also refused to sell Fabinho. They could – if they had wanted – have banked €500m (£446m) in one transfer window alone, as Vasilyev acknowledges. “Absolutely, it could have been close to half a billion,” he says, without batting an eyelid. It is just over four months since we last met, in Paris, for an interview just hours after Monaco had won the French league title – for the first time in 17 years – in a season in which they went through the qualifying rounds to the semi-finals of the Champions League with an exciting, young, attacking team. Then Vasilyev had predicted there would be “quite a few” bids for Monaco’s players and it would be a battle to stop the team from breaking up. Monaco exodus | The players sold this summer In the end it was not just a few vultures circling but a whole flock, although while Vasilyev admits “clubs are coming after us all the time” there is a simple premise that he adheres to which makes Monaco economically viable. “We understand that we are basically a selling club, and we accept that,” he says. We meet in Vasilyev’s office inside the Stade Louis II. There is, behind his desk, a framed Thierry Henry No 12 Monaco shirt, a reminder that there has always been a history of developing players and the 52-year-old Russian, who runs the club on a day-to-day basis, adds: “The likes of Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet, Lilian Thuram came out of this academy so what has happened with him (Mbappe) re-confirms our top status.” It has to be that way. To understand, fully, the Monaco story it is best to rewind to December 2011. Then the club was in the French second division but was bought by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, a petro-chemical magnate, who lavished money on it. Hundreds of millions were spent with Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho signed as Monaco made waves. Vadim Vasilyev inside his Monaco office Credit: EPA But then they quickly fell foul of Uefa’s Financial Fair Play rules because they did not have the commercial revenues to balance the books while, at the same time, Rybolovlev could not carry on spending. So Monaco have become self-sufficient and sustainable. They have worked the transfer market to make money and still be successful by selling the idea to talented young players – such as Youri Tielemans, who they bought from Anderlecht for £21.6m to replace Bernardo – that they can go there, play at a high level and move on. From the transfer fees, €50m is now being invested in the training ground and €100m to upgrade the stadium. “It’s not about making so much money,” Vasilyev explains. “We want to be successful and this is just a consequence of being successful. Because what is different is we have very limited resources, revenues, compared to Premier League clubs. I mean, in ticketing, we make in one domestic season the same as Arsenal makes in one game. The bottom team of the Premier League makes almost three times more than we do being on the top (of the French league) as champions. And we want to be competitive on a European level, which we are, so we have to be different and that means we have to be successful in transfers.” Monaco influx | The players bought this summer So what about last summer? “I knew there would be interest but I probably under-estimated the interest,” Vasilyev says. But he planned. Deals for Tielemans and Soualiho Meite, from Lille, were lined up to plug the midfield gap while the Brazilian full-back Jorge was signed to cover for Mendy. All three are, Vasilyev believes, future stars. “Like when we understood the Mbappe deal was very close we really accelerated for Keita Balde (from Lazio) but it’s not easy,” he says. Even so, the Mbappe move went down to the wire with, finally, an unusual season-long loan agreed and will be followed by the second-highest fee ever after Neymar’s world-record €222m transfer to PSG. “The price for Mbappe was fixed. It was fixed because everyone thought it was not possible. We didn’t really want to part with him,” Vasilyev says. “We knew it had to be something extra, extraordinary. There was interest but it did not seem likely.” Kylian Mbappe has teamed up with Neymar at PSG Credit: AFP It was between Real Madrid and PSG – “the other clubs were really circling around, talking to us but the only other one that became public was this one (Madrid),” Vasilyev says – with Mbappe’s desire to return to Paris sealing it. “The boy wanted to go. It’s a great project, I have to admit that, and it’s a club that aspires to win the Champions League, and playing alongside Neymar made it even more attractive for him,” Vasilyev says. “So as long as it (the loan deal) was legal and we were not breaking any rules we said ‘ok, we accept our player wants to join this team’. Initially we didn’t want that to happen. “Me, personally, I didn’t see him in Paris but I listened to all his arguments and tried to understand his feelings. He was born in Paris, he comes from Paris and he deemed it was too early for him to leave France which was also an argument. So we decided if the conditions were roughly on the same level as the other offer we have then, okay, we will let him go. But it was hard. He’s really incredible. I’m sure he will be a future Ballon D’Or (winner).” Kylian Mbappe is already making waves at PSG Credit: AFP Interestingly, Vasilyev, despite the transfer successes, says he is fully in favour of closing the window early. “We care about the game. If we do that we should stop the transfer market before the domestic leagues start,” he says. “You saw the stress with Coutinho and Barcelona, and we had it with Mbappe, Lemar, Fabinho, and it has nothing to do with fair sports competition. The Premier League has made its decision (to close the window early) but it has to be across the market and it’s up to Fifa to make a stance. Talking to my colleagues across the different leagues, there is a consensus. It’s got out of hand. It’s crazy.” Does part of him wish, given Monaco’s on-field success, that he could have just kept last season’s team together? “It’s true,” Vasilyev says. “It’s a mixed feeling. It’s not about transfer records but at the same time I know that letting players go is part of our model so that other players will choose Monaco and once they know where our players will eventually go then you know when they have a choice they will choose us. Monaco's money machine | Players for the future “It’s not because of the money it’s because they know this is the perfect club where if they do well, then they can reach their dream of playing for a top club. Tielemans or Keita Balde this summer could have chosen a bigger club but they know our selling point.” Even so, the number of changes can be unsettling and, on Tuesday, Monaco are at home to Besiktas knowing they already need a win if they are to get through their Champions League group. “It’s a turning game,” Vasilyev says. “We will do our utmost because it’s our ambition to compete on a European level. We know we cannot be successful every year but we will do everything that it takes.”

Exclusive interview: Why Monaco will continue to be successful despite selling over £300m worth of talent

Monaco did not expect to sell Kylian Mbappe last summer. They did not expect any club to come close to their valuation – an astronomical €180 million (£162m) – for the 18 year-old, but then Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid both did just that in what turned out to be an astonishing transfer window. And for the French champions, in particular. Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva to Manchester City, Tiemoue Bakayoko to Chelsea and Mbappe to PSG. It was a new ‘world record’ for transfer fees for one club. “€360m (£321m), or thereabouts,” says Vadim Vasilyev, Monaco’s vice-president, when asked how much had been brought in. “And it could have been more,” he adds. Offers for Thomas Lemar from Liverpool and then Arsenal, who bid €100m (£90m), were rejected and Monaco also refused to sell Fabinho. They could – if they had wanted – have banked €500m (£446m) in one transfer window alone, as Vasilyev acknowledges. “Absolutely, it could have been close to half a billion,” he says, without batting an eyelid. It is just over four months since we last met, in Paris, for an interview just hours after Monaco had won the French league title – for the first time in 17 years – in a season in which they went through the qualifying rounds to the semi-finals of the Champions League with an exciting, young, attacking team. Then Vasilyev had predicted there would be “quite a few” bids for Monaco’s players and it would be a battle to stop the team from breaking up. Monaco exodus | The players sold this summer In the end it was not just a few vultures circling but a whole flock, although while Vasilyev admits “clubs are coming after us all the time” there is a simple premise that he adheres to which makes Monaco economically viable. “We understand that we are basically a selling club, and we accept that,” he says. We meet in Vasilyev’s office inside the Stade Louis II. There is, behind his desk, a framed Thierry Henry No 12 Monaco shirt, a reminder that there has always been a history of developing players and the 52-year-old Russian, who runs the club on a day-to-day basis, adds: “The likes of Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet, Lilian Thuram came out of this academy so what has happened with him (Mbappe) re-confirms our top status.” It has to be that way. To understand, fully, the Monaco story it is best to rewind to December 2011. Then the club was in the French second division but was bought by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, a petro-chemical magnate, who lavished money on it. Hundreds of millions were spent with Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho signed as Monaco made waves. Vadim Vasilyev inside his Monaco office Credit: EPA But then they quickly fell foul of Uefa’s Financial Fair Play rules because they did not have the commercial revenues to balance the books while, at the same time, Rybolovlev could not carry on spending. So Monaco have become self-sufficient and sustainable. They have worked the transfer market to make money and still be successful by selling the idea to talented young players – such as Youri Tielemans, who they bought from Anderlecht for £21.6m to replace Bernardo – that they can go there, play at a high level and move on. From the transfer fees, €50m is now being invested in the training ground and €100m to upgrade the stadium. “It’s not about making so much money,” Vasilyev explains. “We want to be successful and this is just a consequence of being successful. Because what is different is we have very limited resources, revenues, compared to Premier League clubs. I mean, in ticketing, we make in one domestic season the same as Arsenal makes in one game. The bottom team of the Premier League makes almost three times more than we do being on the top (of the French league) as champions. And we want to be competitive on a European level, which we are, so we have to be different and that means we have to be successful in transfers.” Monaco influx | The players bought this summer So what about last summer? “I knew there would be interest but I probably under-estimated the interest,” Vasilyev says. But he planned. Deals for Tielemans and Soualiho Meite, from Lille, were lined up to plug the midfield gap while the Brazilian full-back Jorge was signed to cover for Mendy. All three are, Vasilyev believes, future stars. “Like when we understood the Mbappe deal was very close we really accelerated for Keita Balde (from Lazio) but it’s not easy,” he says. Even so, the Mbappe move went down to the wire with, finally, an unusual season-long loan agreed and will be followed by the second-highest fee ever after Neymar’s world-record €222m transfer to PSG. “The price for Mbappe was fixed. It was fixed because everyone thought it was not possible. We didn’t really want to part with him,” Vasilyev says. “We knew it had to be something extra, extraordinary. There was interest but it did not seem likely.” Kylian Mbappe has teamed up with Neymar at PSG Credit: AFP It was between Real Madrid and PSG – “the other clubs were really circling around, talking to us but the only other one that became public was this one (Madrid),” Vasilyev says – with Mbappe’s desire to return to Paris sealing it. “The boy wanted to go. It’s a great project, I have to admit that, and it’s a club that aspires to win the Champions League, and playing alongside Neymar made it even more attractive for him,” Vasilyev says. “So as long as it (the loan deal) was legal and we were not breaking any rules we said ‘ok, we accept our player wants to join this team’. Initially we didn’t want that to happen. “Me, personally, I didn’t see him in Paris but I listened to all his arguments and tried to understand his feelings. He was born in Paris, he comes from Paris and he deemed it was too early for him to leave France which was also an argument. So we decided if the conditions were roughly on the same level as the other offer we have then, okay, we will let him go. But it was hard. He’s really incredible. I’m sure he will be a future Ballon D’Or (winner).” Kylian Mbappe is already making waves at PSG Credit: AFP Interestingly, Vasilyev, despite the transfer successes, says he is fully in favour of closing the window early. “We care about the game. If we do that we should stop the transfer market before the domestic leagues start,” he says. “You saw the stress with Coutinho and Barcelona, and we had it with Mbappe, Lemar, Fabinho, and it has nothing to do with fair sports competition. The Premier League has made its decision (to close the window early) but it has to be across the market and it’s up to Fifa to make a stance. Talking to my colleagues across the different leagues, there is a consensus. It’s got out of hand. It’s crazy.” Does part of him wish, given Monaco’s on-field success, that he could have just kept last season’s team together? “It’s true,” Vasilyev says. “It’s a mixed feeling. It’s not about transfer records but at the same time I know that letting players go is part of our model so that other players will choose Monaco and once they know where our players will eventually go then you know when they have a choice they will choose us. Monaco's money machine | Players for the future “It’s not because of the money it’s because they know this is the perfect club where if they do well, then they can reach their dream of playing for a top club. Tielemans or Keita Balde this summer could have chosen a bigger club but they know our selling point.” Even so, the number of changes can be unsettling and, on Tuesday, Monaco are at home to Besiktas knowing they already need a win if they are to get through their Champions League group. “It’s a turning game,” Vasilyev says. “We will do our utmost because it’s our ambition to compete on a European level. We know we cannot be successful every year but we will do everything that it takes.”

Exclusive interview: Why Monaco will continue to be successful despite selling over £300m worth of talent

Monaco did not expect to sell Kylian Mbappe last summer. They did not expect any club to come close to their valuation – an astronomical €180 million (£162m) – for the 18 year-old, but then Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid both did just that in what turned out to be an astonishing transfer window. And for the French champions, in particular. Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva to Manchester City, Tiemoue Bakayoko to Chelsea and Mbappe to PSG. It was a new ‘world record’ for transfer fees for one club. “€360m (£321m), or thereabouts,” says Vadim Vasilyev, Monaco’s vice-president, when asked how much had been brought in. “And it could have been more,” he adds. Offers for Thomas Lemar from Liverpool and then Arsenal, who bid €100m (£90m), were rejected and Monaco also refused to sell Fabinho. They could – if they had wanted – have banked €500m (£446m) in one transfer window alone, as Vasilyev acknowledges. “Absolutely, it could have been close to half a billion,” he says, without batting an eyelid. It is just over four months since we last met, in Paris, for an interview just hours after Monaco had won the French league title – for the first time in 17 years – in a season in which they went through the qualifying rounds to the semi-finals of the Champions League with an exciting, young, attacking team. Then Vasilyev had predicted there would be “quite a few” bids for Monaco’s players and it would be a battle to stop the team from breaking up. Monaco exodus | The players sold this summer In the end it was not just a few vultures circling but a whole flock, although while Vasilyev admits “clubs are coming after us all the time” there is a simple premise that he adheres to which makes Monaco economically viable. “We understand that we are basically a selling club, and we accept that,” he says. We meet in Vasilyev’s office inside the Stade Louis II. There is, behind his desk, a framed Thierry Henry No 12 Monaco shirt, a reminder that there has always been a history of developing players and the 52-year-old Russian, who runs the club on a day-to-day basis, adds: “The likes of Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet, Lilian Thuram came out of this academy so what has happened with him (Mbappe) re-confirms our top status.” It has to be that way. To understand, fully, the Monaco story it is best to rewind to December 2011. Then the club was in the French second division but was bought by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, a petro-chemical magnate, who lavished money on it. Hundreds of millions were spent with Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho signed as Monaco made waves. Vadim Vasilyev inside his Monaco office Credit: EPA But then they quickly fell foul of Uefa’s Financial Fair Play rules because they did not have the commercial revenues to balance the books while, at the same time, Rybolovlev could not carry on spending. So Monaco have become self-sufficient and sustainable. They have worked the transfer market to make money and still be successful by selling the idea to talented young players – such as Youri Tielemans, who they bought from Anderlecht for £21.6m to replace Bernardo – that they can go there, play at a high level and move on. From the transfer fees, €50m is now being invested in the training ground and €100m to upgrade the stadium. “It’s not about making so much money,” Vasilyev explains. “We want to be successful and this is just a consequence of being successful. Because what is different is we have very limited resources, revenues, compared to Premier League clubs. I mean, in ticketing, we make in one domestic season the same as Arsenal makes in one game. The bottom team of the Premier League makes almost three times more than we do being on the top (of the French league) as champions. And we want to be competitive on a European level, which we are, so we have to be different and that means we have to be successful in transfers.” Monaco influx | The players bought this summer So what about last summer? “I knew there would be interest but I probably under-estimated the interest,” Vasilyev says. But he planned. Deals for Tielemans and Soualiho Meite, from Lille, were lined up to plug the midfield gap while the Brazilian full-back Jorge was signed to cover for Mendy. All three are, Vasilyev believes, future stars. “Like when we understood the Mbappe deal was very close we really accelerated for Keita Balde (from Lazio) but it’s not easy,” he says. Even so, the Mbappe move went down to the wire with, finally, an unusual season-long loan agreed and will be followed by the second-highest fee ever after Neymar’s world-record €222m transfer to PSG. “The price for Mbappe was fixed. It was fixed because everyone thought it was not possible. We didn’t really want to part with him,” Vasilyev says. “We knew it had to be something extra, extraordinary. There was interest but it did not seem likely.” Kylian Mbappe has teamed up with Neymar at PSG Credit: AFP It was between Real Madrid and PSG – “the other clubs were really circling around, talking to us but the only other one that became public was this one (Madrid),” Vasilyev says – with Mbappe’s desire to return to Paris sealing it. “The boy wanted to go. It’s a great project, I have to admit that, and it’s a club that aspires to win the Champions League, and playing alongside Neymar made it even more attractive for him,” Vasilyev says. “So as long as it (the loan deal) was legal and we were not breaking any rules we said ‘ok, we accept our player wants to join this team’. Initially we didn’t want that to happen. “Me, personally, I didn’t see him in Paris but I listened to all his arguments and tried to understand his feelings. He was born in Paris, he comes from Paris and he deemed it was too early for him to leave France which was also an argument. So we decided if the conditions were roughly on the same level as the other offer we have then, okay, we will let him go. But it was hard. He’s really incredible. I’m sure he will be a future Ballon D’Or (winner).” Kylian Mbappe is already making waves at PSG Credit: AFP Interestingly, Vasilyev, despite the transfer successes, says he is fully in favour of closing the window early. “We care about the game. If we do that we should stop the transfer market before the domestic leagues start,” he says. “You saw the stress with Coutinho and Barcelona, and we had it with Mbappe, Lemar, Fabinho, and it has nothing to do with fair sports competition. The Premier League has made its decision (to close the window early) but it has to be across the market and it’s up to Fifa to make a stance. Talking to my colleagues across the different leagues, there is a consensus. It’s got out of hand. It’s crazy.” Does part of him wish, given Monaco’s on-field success, that he could have just kept last season’s team together? “It’s true,” Vasilyev says. “It’s a mixed feeling. It’s not about transfer records but at the same time I know that letting players go is part of our model so that other players will choose Monaco and once they know where our players will eventually go then you know when they have a choice they will choose us. Monaco's money machine | Players for the future “It’s not because of the money it’s because they know this is the perfect club where if they do well, then they can reach their dream of playing for a top club. Tielemans or Keita Balde this summer could have chosen a bigger club but they know our selling point.” Even so, the number of changes can be unsettling and, on Tuesday, Monaco are at home to Besiktas knowing they already need a win if they are to get through their Champions League group. “It’s a turning game,” Vasilyev says. “We will do our utmost because it’s our ambition to compete on a European level. We know we cannot be successful every year but we will do everything that it takes.”

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After taking his season's tally to seven goals for club and country, Thomas Meunier says PSG's star forwards should watch out.

LIVE: Dijon vs Paris Saint-Germain

Neymar & Co. return to domestic action as the Parisiens look to stretch their lead at the top of Ligue 1 - follow the action LIVE!

Police raid villa as part of criminal investigation into PSG president

A £6 million Sardinian villa which police suspect was used by Paris St-Germain’s Qatari president to bribe Sepp Blatter’s disgraced right-hand man at Fifa was raided on Friday as part of criminal investigations into the duo. The Villa Bianca was put at the disposal of Jerome Valcke by Nasser Al-Khelaifi as a “means of corruption”, according to Italian police, who conducted the search as part of a fraud inquiry into the man who masterminded Neymar’s world-record move from Barcelona. Police also said documents and computer equipment were seized and several people had been questioned in connection with the property in an operation carried out on the request of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland. The OAG’s ever-expanding inquiry into football corruption, which began with 2015’s dawn raids of a five-star Zurich hotel and the arrest and indictment of some of the game’s most senior figures, also saw Fifa announce its ethics committee would launch a preliminary investigation into Al-Khelaifi. The 43-year-old was in danger of being provisionally suspended over suspicions he bribed the world governing body’s former secretary general Valcke in his capacity as chief executive of beIN Sports – the Paris offices of which were raided on Thursday – in order to secure World Cup broadcast rights. A villa in Porto Cervo on the Italian Sardinia island seized by the Italian Police Credit: ITALIAN FINANCIAL POLICE “We can confirm that the investigatory chamber of the independent ethics committee will initiate a preliminary investigation into the matter,” Fifa said in a statement on Friday of a process similar to that which led to a 90-day suspension for its own disgraced president, Blatter, two years ago after criminal proceedings were opened against him. Al-Khelaifi, who was instrumental this summer in PSG’s controversial £200 million purchase of Neymar from Barcelona and of Kylian Mbappe from Monaco for £166 million, last year joined Uefa’s professional football strategy council. That was as a representative of the European Club Association, the executive board of which he was also appointed to in 2016. Neither Uefa nor the ECA had any plans yesterday to suspend him from those roles. PSG and beIN did not respond to requests for comment on the latest developments following the latter’s statement on Thursday saying it “refutes all accusations made by OAG” and promising to “fully co-operate with the authorities”. Valcke, who was questioned by Swiss prosecutors the same day, broke his silence to deny the claims against him, telling L’Equipe: “I just want to say that it’s not true. I have never done that. I have never received anything in exchange for anything. “I refute the accusations against me or Nasser. I have received nothing from Nasser, I can assure you. There was never any exchange between Nasser and I. Never.” Valcke was already facing a separate criminal inquiry, launched in March last year over “various acts of criminal mismanagement”. That probe related to his sacking by Fifa and ban from football for a series of offences, including attempting to sell World Cup TV rights for far below their value. Nasser Al-Khelaifi oversaw the world record breaking transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to PSG Credit: PA The OAG revealed on Thursday fresh proceedings had been opened on the basis of findings obtained during the earlier inquiry. It said in a statement: “It is suspected that Jerome Valcke accepted undue advantages from a businessman in the sports-rights sector in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the Fifa World Cups in 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030 and from Nasser Al-Khelaifi in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the Fifa World Cups in 2026 and 2030.” Valcke was questioned a day after appearing the Court of Arbitration for Sport to appeal his 10-year ban from football, a suspension that had already been reduced from 12 years by Fifa’s appeal committee. He and Blatter, who is serving a six-year ban from the game, have always denied any wrongdoing.

Police raid villa as part of criminal investigation into PSG president

A £6 million Sardinian villa which police suspect was used by Paris St-Germain’s Qatari president to bribe Sepp Blatter’s disgraced right-hand man at Fifa was raided on Friday as part of criminal investigations into the duo. The Villa Bianca was put at the disposal of Jerome Valcke by Nasser Al-Khelaifi as a “means of corruption”, according to Italian police, who conducted the search as part of a fraud inquiry into the man who masterminded Neymar’s world-record move from Barcelona. Police also said documents and computer equipment were seized and several people had been questioned in connection with the property in an operation carried out on the request of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland. The OAG’s ever-expanding inquiry into football corruption, which began with 2015’s dawn raids of a five-star Zurich hotel and the arrest and indictment of some of the game’s most senior figures, also saw Fifa announce its ethics committee would launch a preliminary investigation into Al-Khelaifi. The 43-year-old was in danger of being provisionally suspended over suspicions he bribed the world governing body’s former secretary general Valcke in his capacity as chief executive of beIN Sports – the Paris offices of which were raided on Thursday – in order to secure World Cup broadcast rights. A villa in Porto Cervo on the Italian Sardinia island seized by the Italian Police Credit: ITALIAN FINANCIAL POLICE “We can confirm that the investigatory chamber of the independent ethics committee will initiate a preliminary investigation into the matter,” Fifa said in a statement on Friday of a process similar to that which led to a 90-day suspension for its own disgraced president, Blatter, two years ago after criminal proceedings were opened against him. Al-Khelaifi, who was instrumental this summer in PSG’s controversial £200 million purchase of Neymar from Barcelona and of Kylian Mbappe from Monaco for £166 million, last year joined Uefa’s professional football strategy council. That was as a representative of the European Club Association, the executive board of which he was also appointed to in 2016. Neither Uefa nor the ECA had any plans yesterday to suspend him from those roles. PSG and beIN did not respond to requests for comment on the latest developments following the latter’s statement on Thursday saying it “refutes all accusations made by OAG” and promising to “fully co-operate with the authorities”. Valcke, who was questioned by Swiss prosecutors the same day, broke his silence to deny the claims against him, telling L’Equipe: “I just want to say that it’s not true. I have never done that. I have never received anything in exchange for anything. “I refute the accusations against me or Nasser. I have received nothing from Nasser, I can assure you. There was never any exchange between Nasser and I. Never.” Valcke was already facing a separate criminal inquiry, launched in March last year over “various acts of criminal mismanagement”. That probe related to his sacking by Fifa and ban from football for a series of offences, including attempting to sell World Cup TV rights for far below their value. Nasser Al-Khelaifi oversaw the world record breaking transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to PSG Credit: PA The OAG revealed on Thursday fresh proceedings had been opened on the basis of findings obtained during the earlier inquiry. It said in a statement: “It is suspected that Jerome Valcke accepted undue advantages from a businessman in the sports-rights sector in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the Fifa World Cups in 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030 and from Nasser Al-Khelaifi in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the Fifa World Cups in 2026 and 2030.” Valcke was questioned a day after appearing the Court of Arbitration for Sport to appeal his 10-year ban from football, a suspension that had already been reduced from 12 years by Fifa’s appeal committee. He and Blatter, who is serving a six-year ban from the game, have always denied any wrongdoing.

Police raid villa as part of criminal investigation into PSG president

A £6 million Sardinian villa which police suspect was used by Paris St-Germain’s Qatari president to bribe Sepp Blatter’s disgraced right-hand man at Fifa was raided on Friday as part of criminal investigations into the duo. The Villa Bianca was put at the disposal of Jerome Valcke by Nasser Al-Khelaifi as a “means of corruption”, according to Italian police, who conducted the search as part of a fraud inquiry into the man who masterminded Neymar’s world-record move from Barcelona. Police also said documents and computer equipment were seized and several people had been questioned in connection with the property in an operation carried out on the request of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland. The OAG’s ever-expanding inquiry into football corruption, which began with 2015’s dawn raids of a five-star Zurich hotel and the arrest and indictment of some of the game’s most senior figures, also saw Fifa announce its ethics committee would launch a preliminary investigation into Al-Khelaifi. The 43-year-old was in danger of being provisionally suspended over suspicions he bribed the world governing body’s former secretary general Valcke in his capacity as chief executive of beIN Sports – the Paris offices of which were raided on Thursday – in order to secure World Cup broadcast rights. A villa in Porto Cervo on the Italian Sardinia island seized by the Italian Police Credit: ITALIAN FINANCIAL POLICE “We can confirm that the investigatory chamber of the independent ethics committee will initiate a preliminary investigation into the matter,” Fifa said in a statement on Friday of a process similar to that which led to a 90-day suspension for its own disgraced president, Blatter, two years ago after criminal proceedings were opened against him. Al-Khelaifi, who was instrumental this summer in PSG’s controversial £200 million purchase of Neymar from Barcelona and of Kylian Mbappe from Monaco for £166 million, last year joined Uefa’s professional football strategy council. That was as a representative of the European Club Association, the executive board of which he was also appointed to in 2016. Neither Uefa nor the ECA had any plans yesterday to suspend him from those roles. PSG and beIN did not respond to requests for comment on the latest developments following the latter’s statement on Thursday saying it “refutes all accusations made by OAG” and promising to “fully co-operate with the authorities”. Valcke, who was questioned by Swiss prosecutors the same day, broke his silence to deny the claims against him, telling L’Equipe: “I just want to say that it’s not true. I have never done that. I have never received anything in exchange for anything. “I refute the accusations against me or Nasser. I have received nothing from Nasser, I can assure you. There was never any exchange between Nasser and I. Never.” Valcke was already facing a separate criminal inquiry, launched in March last year over “various acts of criminal mismanagement”. That probe related to his sacking by Fifa and ban from football for a series of offences, including attempting to sell World Cup TV rights for far below their value. Nasser Al-Khelaifi oversaw the world record breaking transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to PSG Credit: PA The OAG revealed on Thursday fresh proceedings had been opened on the basis of findings obtained during the earlier inquiry. It said in a statement: “It is suspected that Jerome Valcke accepted undue advantages from a businessman in the sports-rights sector in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the Fifa World Cups in 2018, 2022, 2026 and 2030 and from Nasser Al-Khelaifi in connection with the award of media rights for certain countries at the Fifa World Cups in 2026 and 2030.” Valcke was questioned a day after appearing the Court of Arbitration for Sport to appeal his 10-year ban from football, a suspension that had already been reduced from 12 years by Fifa’s appeal committee. He and Blatter, who is serving a six-year ban from the game, have always denied any wrongdoing.

Neymar Presentation In Paris

FILE PHOTO: PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi waves, Paris St Germain vs Amiens SC, Ligue 1, Paris, France, August 5, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Barcelona reinvented themselves after Neymar left - Simeone

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone feels Saturday's opposition Barcelona are one of the best teams in the world, even without Neymar.

Barcelona reinvented themselves after Neymar left - Simeone

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone feels Saturday's opposition Barcelona are one of the best teams in the world, even without Neymar.

Barcelona reinvented themselves after Neymar left - Simeone

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone feels Saturday's opposition Barcelona are one of the best teams in the world, even without Neymar.

Sam Allardyce and David Moyes in frame as hunt for Gordon Strachan's Scotland successor begins

Sam Allardyce for Scotland manager? David Moyes, the bookies’ favourite, or Malky McKay, already in-house at Hampden Park? So began the inevitable speculation, following the announcement from the Scottish Football Association that Gordon Strachan’s tenure was over after a second tournament qualification failure. The statement said that the 60-year-old’s spell in charge had come to an end ‘by mutual consent’ but the SFA chief executive, Stewart Regan, added: “After almost five years the board felt it was time for a new direction to prepare for the Uefa Euro 2020 qualifying campaign and also the forthcoming Uefa Nations League.” Allardyce’s name became prominent this week because, although he declined to declare an interest in the Scotland job, out of respect for Strachan – ‘somebody is already in that position,’ – the former England manager did not rule himself out. Moyes, meanwhile, has been looking for work since resigning as Sunderland boss on May 22, while McKay is already employed by the SFA as performance director. Strachan might, in fact, have survived as he did when the Scots fell short of qualification for Euro 2016 but were cheered by the Tartan Army after the final group match against Gibraltar in Faro. His win rate of 46.3% from 40 games was bettered by only one of his 10 most recent predecessors as Scotland manager – his former Aberdeen team-mate, Alex McLeish (70% from 10 games) – and Strachan’s record this year was estimable. Strachan left his role on Thursday Credit: Reuters Four wins and two draws from six fixtures, representing a 75% success rate, with four clean sheets and the only goals scored by any of the Group F contenders against Slovenia in Ljubljana, took the Scots to the brink of a play-off place. Strachan’s team selection against the Slovenes, however, was the subject of criticism because he switched to a 4-4-2 deployment which left the Scottish midfield outgunned in the second half, when they fell behind after leading at the interval. The manager’s use of substitutions was also condemned and he stepped into a morass of his own making when, in trying to explain that his options had been restricted because of a lack of height in his squad, Strachan cited the genetics of the Scots as a disadvantage and suggested that taller Scottish women should apply themselves to producing better proportioned players for the future. Northern Ireland have had huge success under Michael O'Neill, who lives in Edinburgh Credit: PA The consequent ridicule and satire, in newspapers, TV and radio, was matched by scorn on social media. As one SFA source told Telegraph Sport: “It was not Gordon’s finest hour.” The longer view also yields unflattering comparisons with the achievement of Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in qualifying for Euro 2016 while the Scots, alone of the home nations, stayed at home. Northern Ireland, have again reached the play-offs under Michael O’Neill, who lives in Edinburgh, and whose resources are comparable with those available to Strachan. What Scotland do have is a core of six Celtic players, two of whom – Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong – were notable performers, whose absence through injury did not help Strachan’s cause in Slovenia. Potential Scotland replacements Their club manager, Brendan Rodgers, expressed dismay at the outcome on Thursday when he said: “It was a missed opportunity. There’s no doubt about that. It was clear the improvement the squad had made in, first, performance and, second, results.” “The frustrating thing about it is that it was a good result, in terms of going to Slovenia, a team that hadn’t conceded any goals at home. And you go there and muster a point on the back of five other good results. “That second part of the competition was actually very, very good and that’s why it’s so frustrating, because you’ve had 20 years of it. There is a genuine chance there because there is a group of young, vibrant, exciting players who have shown in an energetic way that they can do the things you want at that level. Marco Verratti doesn't struggle given his size Asked for his view on Strachan’s comments about genetics, Rodgers said: “Who are the best players in the world? Messi, Suarez, Hazard, Iniesta, Neymar, Verrati. “Verrati is 5ft 6ins but he’s not in conflict with the ball. He keeps it. Scotland can find a systematic approach to work in, to play in, so that if there are players missing, the next ones can come in, if you have a profile and a clear identity – because that’s what it’s going to take, a collective effort. “Northern Ireland lost against Norway but you could clearly see good organisation and an identity in the team. They have created a spirit these last few years and that is what also makes the difference.” And that is why the SFA might wait to see how Northern Ireland fare in the play-offs before ruling O’Neill out as a potential successor to Strachan.

Sam Allardyce and David Moyes in frame as hunt for Gordon Strachan's Scotland successor begins

Sam Allardyce for Scotland manager? David Moyes, the bookies’ favourite, or Malky McKay, already in-house at Hampden Park? So began the inevitable speculation, following the announcement from the Scottish Football Association that Gordon Strachan’s tenure was over after a second tournament qualification failure. The statement said that the 60-year-old’s spell in charge had come to an end ‘by mutual consent’ but the SFA chief executive, Stewart Regan, added: “After almost five years the board felt it was time for a new direction to prepare for the Uefa Euro 2020 qualifying campaign and also the forthcoming Uefa Nations League.” Allardyce’s name became prominent this week because, although he declined to declare an interest in the Scotland job, out of respect for Strachan – ‘somebody is already in that position,’ – the former England manager did not rule himself out. Moyes, meanwhile, has been looking for work since resigning as Sunderland boss on May 22, while McKay is already employed by the SFA as performance director. Strachan might, in fact, have survived as he did when the Scots fell short of qualification for Euro 2016 but were cheered by the Tartan Army after the final group match against Gibraltar in Faro. His win rate of 46.3% from 40 games was bettered by only one of his 10 most recent predecessors as Scotland manager – his former Aberdeen team-mate, Alex McLeish (70% from 10 games) – and Strachan’s record this year was estimable. Strachan left his role on Thursday Credit: Reuters Four wins and two draws from six fixtures, representing a 75% success rate, with four clean sheets and the only goals scored by any of the Group F contenders against Slovenia in Ljubljana, took the Scots to the brink of a play-off place. Strachan’s team selection against the Slovenes, however, was the subject of criticism because he switched to a 4-4-2 deployment which left the Scottish midfield outgunned in the second half, when they fell behind after leading at the interval. The manager’s use of substitutions was also condemned and he stepped into a morass of his own making when, in trying to explain that his options had been restricted because of a lack of height in his squad, Strachan cited the genetics of the Scots as a disadvantage and suggested that taller Scottish women should apply themselves to producing better proportioned players for the future. Northern Ireland have had huge success under Michael O'Neill, who lives in Edinburgh Credit: PA The consequent ridicule and satire, in newspapers, TV and radio, was matched by scorn on social media. As one SFA source told Telegraph Sport: “It was not Gordon’s finest hour.” The longer view also yields unflattering comparisons with the achievement of Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in qualifying for Euro 2016 while the Scots, alone of the home nations, stayed at home. Northern Ireland, have again reached the play-offs under Michael O’Neill, who lives in Edinburgh, and whose resources are comparable with those available to Strachan. What Scotland do have is a core of six Celtic players, two of whom – Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong – were notable performers, whose absence through injury did not help Strachan’s cause in Slovenia. Potential Scotland replacements Their club manager, Brendan Rodgers, expressed dismay at the outcome on Thursday when he said: “It was a missed opportunity. There’s no doubt about that. It was clear the improvement the squad had made in, first, performance and, second, results.” “The frustrating thing about it is that it was a good result, in terms of going to Slovenia, a team that hadn’t conceded any goals at home. And you go there and muster a point on the back of five other good results. “That second part of the competition was actually very, very good and that’s why it’s so frustrating, because you’ve had 20 years of it. There is a genuine chance there because there is a group of young, vibrant, exciting players who have shown in an energetic way that they can do the things you want at that level. Marco Verratti doesn't struggle given his size Asked for his view on Strachan’s comments about genetics, Rodgers said: “Who are the best players in the world? Messi, Suarez, Hazard, Iniesta, Neymar, Verrati. “Verrati is 5ft 6ins but he’s not in conflict with the ball. He keeps it. Scotland can find a systematic approach to work in, to play in, so that if there are players missing, the next ones can come in, if you have a profile and a clear identity – because that’s what it’s going to take, a collective effort. “Northern Ireland lost against Norway but you could clearly see good organisation and an identity in the team. They have created a spirit these last few years and that is what also makes the difference.” And that is why the SFA might wait to see how Northern Ireland fare in the play-offs before ruling O’Neill out as a potential successor to Strachan.

Sam Allardyce and David Moyes in frame as hunt for Gordon Strachan's Scotland successor begins

Sam Allardyce for Scotland manager? David Moyes, the bookies’ favourite, or Malky McKay, already in-house at Hampden Park? So began the inevitable speculation, following the announcement from the Scottish Football Association that Gordon Strachan’s tenure was over after a second tournament qualification failure. The statement said that the 60-year-old’s spell in charge had come to an end ‘by mutual consent’ but the SFA chief executive, Stewart Regan, added: “After almost five years the board felt it was time for a new direction to prepare for the Uefa Euro 2020 qualifying campaign and also the forthcoming Uefa Nations League.” Allardyce’s name became prominent this week because, although he declined to declare an interest in the Scotland job, out of respect for Strachan – ‘somebody is already in that position,’ – the former England manager did not rule himself out. Moyes, meanwhile, has been looking for work since resigning as Sunderland boss on May 22, while McKay is already employed by the SFA as performance director. Strachan might, in fact, have survived as he did when the Scots fell short of qualification for Euro 2016 but were cheered by the Tartan Army after the final group match against Gibraltar in Faro. His win rate of 46.3% from 40 games was bettered by only one of his 10 most recent predecessors as Scotland manager – his former Aberdeen team-mate, Alex McLeish (70% from 10 games) – and Strachan’s record this year was estimable. Strachan left his role on Thursday Credit: Reuters Four wins and two draws from six fixtures, representing a 75% success rate, with four clean sheets and the only goals scored by any of the Group F contenders against Slovenia in Ljubljana, took the Scots to the brink of a play-off place. Strachan’s team selection against the Slovenes, however, was the subject of criticism because he switched to a 4-4-2 deployment which left the Scottish midfield outgunned in the second half, when they fell behind after leading at the interval. The manager’s use of substitutions was also condemned and he stepped into a morass of his own making when, in trying to explain that his options had been restricted because of a lack of height in his squad, Strachan cited the genetics of the Scots as a disadvantage and suggested that taller Scottish women should apply themselves to producing better proportioned players for the future. Northern Ireland have had huge success under Michael O'Neill, who lives in Edinburgh Credit: PA The consequent ridicule and satire, in newspapers, TV and radio, was matched by scorn on social media. As one SFA source told Telegraph Sport: “It was not Gordon’s finest hour.” The longer view also yields unflattering comparisons with the achievement of Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in qualifying for Euro 2016 while the Scots, alone of the home nations, stayed at home. Northern Ireland, have again reached the play-offs under Michael O’Neill, who lives in Edinburgh, and whose resources are comparable with those available to Strachan. What Scotland do have is a core of six Celtic players, two of whom – Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong – were notable performers, whose absence through injury did not help Strachan’s cause in Slovenia. Potential Scotland replacements Their club manager, Brendan Rodgers, expressed dismay at the outcome on Thursday when he said: “It was a missed opportunity. There’s no doubt about that. It was clear the improvement the squad had made in, first, performance and, second, results.” “The frustrating thing about it is that it was a good result, in terms of going to Slovenia, a team that hadn’t conceded any goals at home. And you go there and muster a point on the back of five other good results. “That second part of the competition was actually very, very good and that’s why it’s so frustrating, because you’ve had 20 years of it. There is a genuine chance there because there is a group of young, vibrant, exciting players who have shown in an energetic way that they can do the things you want at that level. Marco Verratti doesn't struggle given his size Asked for his view on Strachan’s comments about genetics, Rodgers said: “Who are the best players in the world? Messi, Suarez, Hazard, Iniesta, Neymar, Verrati. “Verrati is 5ft 6ins but he’s not in conflict with the ball. He keeps it. Scotland can find a systematic approach to work in, to play in, so that if there are players missing, the next ones can come in, if you have a profile and a clear identity – because that’s what it’s going to take, a collective effort. “Northern Ireland lost against Norway but you could clearly see good organisation and an identity in the team. They have created a spirit these last few years and that is what also makes the difference.” And that is why the SFA might wait to see how Northern Ireland fare in the play-offs before ruling O’Neill out as a potential successor to Strachan.

Sam Allardyce and David Moyes in frame as hunt for Gordon Strachan's Scotland successor begins

Sam Allardyce for Scotland manager? David Moyes, the bookies’ favourite, or Malky McKay, already in-house at Hampden Park? So began the inevitable speculation, following the announcement from the Scottish Football Association that Gordon Strachan’s tenure was over after a second tournament qualification failure. The statement said that the 60-year-old’s spell in charge had come to an end ‘by mutual consent’ but the SFA chief executive, Stewart Regan, added: “After almost five years the board felt it was time for a new direction to prepare for the Uefa Euro 2020 qualifying campaign and also the forthcoming Uefa Nations League.” Allardyce’s name became prominent this week because, although he declined to declare an interest in the Scotland job, out of respect for Strachan – ‘somebody is already in that position,’ – the former England manager did not rule himself out. Moyes, meanwhile, has been looking for work since resigning as Sunderland boss on May 22, while McKay is already employed by the SFA as performance director. Strachan might, in fact, have survived as he did when the Scots fell short of qualification for Euro 2016 but were cheered by the Tartan Army after the final group match against Gibraltar in Faro. His win rate of 46.3% from 40 games was bettered by only one of his 10 most recent predecessors as Scotland manager – his former Aberdeen team-mate, Alex McLeish (70% from 10 games) – and Strachan’s record this year was estimable. Strachan left his role on Thursday Credit: Reuters Four wins and two draws from six fixtures, representing a 75% success rate, with four clean sheets and the only goals scored by any of the Group F contenders against Slovenia in Ljubljana, took the Scots to the brink of a play-off place. Strachan’s team selection against the Slovenes, however, was the subject of criticism because he switched to a 4-4-2 deployment which left the Scottish midfield outgunned in the second half, when they fell behind after leading at the interval. The manager’s use of substitutions was also condemned and he stepped into a morass of his own making when, in trying to explain that his options had been restricted because of a lack of height in his squad, Strachan cited the genetics of the Scots as a disadvantage and suggested that taller Scottish women should apply themselves to producing better proportioned players for the future. Northern Ireland have had huge success under Michael O'Neill, who lives in Edinburgh Credit: PA The consequent ridicule and satire, in newspapers, TV and radio, was matched by scorn on social media. As one SFA source told Telegraph Sport: “It was not Gordon’s finest hour.” The longer view also yields unflattering comparisons with the achievement of Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in qualifying for Euro 2016 while the Scots, alone of the home nations, stayed at home. Northern Ireland, have again reached the play-offs under Michael O’Neill, who lives in Edinburgh, and whose resources are comparable with those available to Strachan. What Scotland do have is a core of six Celtic players, two of whom – Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong – were notable performers, whose absence through injury did not help Strachan’s cause in Slovenia. Potential Scotland replacements Their club manager, Brendan Rodgers, expressed dismay at the outcome on Thursday when he said: “It was a missed opportunity. There’s no doubt about that. It was clear the improvement the squad had made in, first, performance and, second, results.” “The frustrating thing about it is that it was a good result, in terms of going to Slovenia, a team that hadn’t conceded any goals at home. And you go there and muster a point on the back of five other good results. “That second part of the competition was actually very, very good and that’s why it’s so frustrating, because you’ve had 20 years of it. There is a genuine chance there because there is a group of young, vibrant, exciting players who have shown in an energetic way that they can do the things you want at that level. Marco Verratti doesn't struggle given his size Asked for his view on Strachan’s comments about genetics, Rodgers said: “Who are the best players in the world? Messi, Suarez, Hazard, Iniesta, Neymar, Verrati. “Verrati is 5ft 6ins but he’s not in conflict with the ball. He keeps it. Scotland can find a systematic approach to work in, to play in, so that if there are players missing, the next ones can come in, if you have a profile and a clear identity – because that’s what it’s going to take, a collective effort. “Northern Ireland lost against Norway but you could clearly see good organisation and an identity in the team. They have created a spirit these last few years and that is what also makes the difference.” And that is why the SFA might wait to see how Northern Ireland fare in the play-offs before ruling O’Neill out as a potential successor to Strachan.

Paris Saint-Germain want to help Neymar win Ballon d'Or, Emery says

Neymar stepped out of Lionel Messi's shadow when he left Barcelona, and now Paris Saint-Germain want to help him usurp the Argentinian.

Paris Saint-Germain want to help Neymar win Ballon d'Or, Emery says

Neymar stepped out of Lionel Messi's shadow when he left Barcelona, and now Paris Saint-Germain want to help him usurp the Argentinian.

Paris Saint-Germain want to help Neymar win Ballon d'Or, Emery says

Neymar stepped out of Lionel Messi's shadow when he left Barcelona, and now Paris Saint-Germain want to help him usurp the Argentinian.

Emery backs Neymar for Ballon d'Or

PSG boss Unai Emery says he and his players will do everything in their power to help Neymar win the Ballon d'Or.

Emery backs Neymar for Ballon d'Or

PSG boss Unai Emery says he and his players will do everything in their power to help Neymar win the Ballon d'Or.

Emery backs Neymar for Ballon d'Or

PSG boss Unai Emery says he and his players will do everything in their power to help Neymar win the Ballon d'Or.

Barca can cope without Neymar - Figo

Neymar's world record 220 million Euro transfer from Barcelona to PSG will not drastically alter the Catalan's fortunes at the Camp Nou, according to Luis Figo.

Barca can cope without Neymar - Figo

Neymar's world record 220 million Euro transfer from Barcelona to PSG will not drastically alter the Catalan's fortunes at the Camp Nou, according to Luis Figo.

Barca can cope without Neymar - Figo

Neymar's world record 220 million Euro transfer from Barcelona to PSG will not drastically alter the Catalan's fortunes at the Camp Nou, according to Luis Figo.

Barca can cope without Neymar - Figo

Neymar's world record 220 million Euro transfer from Barcelona to PSG will not drastically alter the Catalan's fortunes at the Camp Nou, according to Luis Figo.

Barca can cope without Neymar - Figo

Neymar's world record 220 million Euro transfer from Barcelona to PSG will not drastically alter the Catalan's fortunes at the Camp Nou, according to Luis Figo.

Barca can cope without Neymar - Figo

Neymar's world record 220 million Euro transfer from Barcelona to PSG will not drastically alter the Catalan's fortunes at the Camp Nou, according to Luis Figo.

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