Neymar has emerged as the anonymous benefactor of £775,000 to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil forward split his donation between humanitarian aid organisation UNICEF and a solidarity fund created in his home country.
Neymar made the gesture in secret, following former Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo as the latest big-name footballer to provide support, but he was revealed as the benefactor on Brazilian TV.
Brazilian presenter Chris Flores told Fofocalizando: “Neymar donated R$5m [around £775,00] to fight COVID.
“He made this donation at the beginning of last week. Part of it went to UNICEF, and part to that solidarity fund that was created by artists.
“He preferred not to publicly disclose [the donation], so we’re telling everyone, because as soon as we pull the ear, we also talk when the person does something nice.
“We have this information, I brought it to you. We really think it’s a very cool, very positive attitude, and one that serves as an incentive for other sportsmen, for other personalities.”
Cristiano Ronaldo is said to be on track to join an elite club of sports stars by reaching $1 billion in career earnings – despite football taking an economic hammering during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ronaldo will reportedly join golfer Tiger Woods, who hit the billion-dollar mark in 2009, and repeat Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather’s financial feat of 2017 by becoming one of three athletes to have reached the staggering total while still active.
The figures contextualize the scale of the sacrifice of more than $4 million in pay the striker was announced to have taken last week, agreed as part of an attempt by Serie A leaders Juventus to save $100 million while football is in lockdown.
Rumours that the all-time top scorer for Portugal had bought an island to quarantine his family during the outbreak proved untrue, although Ronaldo has reacted to the crisis by donating $1.8 million to hospitals in his homeland, where he is currently keeping fit and urging the public to stay active indoors via his social media accounts.
Those pages demonstrate how incredibly lucrative Ronaldo’s brand is. His following of more than 210 million followers makes him the most high-profile athlete on Instagram by a considerable distance, and explains why sponsors see him as a more valuable investment than the likes of Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, who has around 64 million fewer followe
The player himself was equally elated, claiming at his unveiling in the Spanish capital: “I’ve dreamt about this since I was little, I always supported Real Madrid. I will try to be the best in the world.”
Fast forward eight months, however, and Hazard’s brutally honest assessment of his debut season at the Bernabeu pulled no punches: “My first season at Madrid is bad,” he told RTBF.
“It is an adaptation season. I will be judged in the second. It is up to me to be in good shape next year.”
Here, we look at why it has it not quite gone according to plan for the Belgian at his new club.
Chelsea career (2012-19)
Premier League games
How to solve a problem like replacing Ronaldo?
When Cristiano Ronaldo decided to end his trophy-laden, nine-year association with Real and join Juventus in the summer of 2018, those in charge of recruitment at Madrid were left with a cavernous hole to fill.
To be precise, a void measuring 450 goals.
However, despite being made to wait, Real president Florentino Perez eventually got his man, with Hazard taking the No 7 shirt vacated by the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
“Taking this shirt after Cristiano isn’t easy, he’s historic,” admitted Hazard on his arrival in Spain.
And so it has proved, although Arsene Wenger thinks it was unrealistic in the first place to expect the new man to get the sort of goals tally Ronaldo used to rack up every season at the Bernabeu.
“He will be the answer, but not in replacing Ronaldo that is for sure,” the former Arsenal manager told beIN Sports.
“He will not score 50 goals a year because that’s now how they [Real Madrid] play football. They need another goalscorer… if they had someone younger around him to score the goals, maybe they could do very well.
“Hazard is an exceptional player to create chances, and to sometimes finish, which is what he needs to do in big games. I don’t think Real have yet to see the real Hazard.”
‘I’m not a Galactico, I’m Eden Hazard’
When Hazard joined the biggest club in the world, he was also becoming their latest Galactico, six years on from the previous big-money arrival at the Bernabeu, Gareth Bale.
However, much like the Welshman before him, Hazard is not one for the spotlight, preferring instead to do his talking on the pitch, where he feels most at home with a ball at his feet.
And when not playing football, Hazard can be found with his family – wife Natacha and three sons – in the private neighbourhood of La Finca in Madrid’s suburbs.
Slightly different, then, from the club’s previous Galacticos, stars like David Beckham, Robinho, Ronaldo et al, who all enjoyed the media limelight while in the Spanish capital.
Hazard is a very different character, though, as he hinted at during his unveiling: “I’m not a Galactico, but I’ll try to be. For now, I’m Eden Hazard.”
But will that be enough for Los Blancos?
One criticism Hazard found hard to shake off in the early part of his Madrid career was that he turned up for pre-season at his new club overweight after a family holiday last summer.
It is not an accusation the player denies either.
“It’s true,” Hazard admitted to L’Equipe last November. “I’m not going to hide it, but when I’m on vacation, I’m on vacation.
“I had put on five kilos, I’m the type to put on quickly and lose so quickly if I’m careful.
“When I was 18, in Lille, I was 72 or 73 kg. Muscle mass was 75 kg, on a bad day, 77 kg. I was 80 kg this summer, I lost it in 10 days.”
Some of the Spanish press, who as Bale can testify can be hard to please at the best of times, even went as far as labelling the new man fat.
Hazard’s national team manager was forced to defend his charge, with Roberto Martinez saying: “He takes great care of himself and, in my eyes, he’s not fat.”
If you want to make a horse lose a race, putting two kilos on a horse of 500 kilos is enough
However, there is no doubt the extra weight Hazard was initially carrying at Real contributed to both his early-season injury problems, as well as a loss of confidence in his game.
“If you want to make a horse lose a race, putting two kilos on a horse of 500 kilos is enough,” was how Wenger explained Hazard’s struggles at the start of his Real career.
Untimely injury and a slow start
Perhaps that extra timber Hazard was carrying in the close season was partly responsible for the thigh injury he picked up in the last training session before Real’s first match of the campaign at Celta Vigo.
As a result, the new man’s competitive debut was delayed by three games until September, with head coach Zinedine Zidane forced to call for patience from Madrid’s fans.
“I know he is going to succeed here,” the Frenchman said.
“I’m not going to give him any advice on how to play. He knows what we want from him and we know the player he is. We all have to remain calm, I’m not worried at all.”
But with Real’s new big-money recruit failing to score in his first five games in all competitions, Marca noted only Michael Owen had made a worse start to life as a Galactico after the Englishman took seven matches to get off the mark at the Bernabeu.
“It is true that the people expect a lot from me, I also expect it,” said Hazard. “Personally I can do better. There will always be criticism, I am with myself.”
Luckily for the Belgian, he finally scored his first goal for his new club in a 4-2 home win over Granada in October, meaning he beat Owen’s unwanted record by one match.
Juventus are on the search for a new striker as they look to add even more firepower up front and ease the burden on talisman Cristiano Ronaldo.
Manager Maurizio Sarri has plenty of forwards at his disposal such as the 35-year-old Portuguese star, Douglas Costa, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuaín, but the latter is expected to be moved on in the near future.
The Argentina international returned to Turin last summer after a loan spell at Chelsea, who then decided against signing the 32-year-old on a permanent basis. Forced back to Italy he has linked up with former Chelsea boss Sarri once again at the Allianz Stadium.
Higuain is understood to be surplus to requirements at the Turin-based club and will, therefore, be expected to be moved on. Here are five potential replacements the Serie A champions could consider.
Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
Jesus continues to be linked with a move to Turin, with his agent recently stating he could be on the move. The Brazil international has struggled to dislodge Sergio Agüero as the main striker since moving to Manchester City from Palmeiras in 2016.
Sarri is a big fan and is keen for a replacement for Higuain, who is expected to depart the Italian giants. The 61-year-old has also claimed Jesus could be the perfect partner for Cristiano Ronaldo in the Juve attack.
The Old Lady would have to fork out a whopping $87million should they look to lure him to Serie A. Pep Guardiola is keen to keep hold of the highly-rated 22-year-old, but Jesus wants regular first-team soccer, something Juve can guarantee.
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
The 26-year-old is another option for Sarri to consider given the fact he knows Kane from his time in the Premier League when managing Chelsea. With Kane’s firepower up front, he would take Juve to the next level and turn them into possible Champions League favourites.
Tottenham striker Kane, who has 156 goals in 201 appearances in all competitions for Spurs, would cost Sarri’s side a whopping $192million and the Old Lady could well be put off by the hefty price tag. Juventus are said to be willing to offer Paulo Dybala as a sweetener in the deal in an attempt to lure Kane to Turin.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi after being selected in the FIFPro World 11. (Source: REUTERS/File Photo)
Despite shifting base from Madrid to Turin, it seems that the age-old Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi debate will never come to an end. Virgil van Dijk, when asked the question, chose to pick Messi over Ronaldo.
The duo are regarded as the game’s greatest stars and only a thin line can separate the accolades fetched by the Portuguese and the Argentine. However, Liverpool’s centre back Virgil van Dijk considers Messi to be the toughest candidate in terms of defending. The Dutch footballer revealed it during a Q&A session on his official Twitter handle.
When asked to name his toughest opponent, van Dijk replied: “There are some difficult strikers out there but probably
Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur has been criticized for leaning on government support to pay furloughed staff while continuing to pay its £100,000-a-week-plus stars in full.
The North London club is cutting the wages of 550 non-playing staff by 20% in April and May, making use of the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme “where appropriate”, it said on Tuesday. However, the players, including Harry Kane, who reportedly earns £200,000 ($248,000) a week, have not taken pay cuts.
Korean forward Son Heung-min earns £140,000 per week, while England midfielder Dele Ali earns £100,000.
Newcastle United, whose highest-earner Jonjo Shelvey reportedly nets £80,000 a week, and Norwich have also put non-playing staff on furlough and will make use of the government’s scheme. Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe became the first premier league manager to take a voluntary pay cut on Wednesday, as
Wimbledon is the second tennis Grand Slam to be cancelled this year on account of the Covid-19 outbreak. Earlier the French Open was rescheduled from May to September. The other big sporting events cancelled are the summer Olympics and UEFA’s club football championship. The IPL is unlikely to be scheduled this year, a blow for Indian cricket fans.
The collateral damage in these unavoidable postponements is a group of legendary athletes who are in the twilight of their remarkable careers. Roger Federer is almost 40 years of age and much as his army of fan
Lionel Messi announced on Instagram that he and his Barcelona teammates were willing to take a 70 percent wage cut to financially assist the club during the coronavirus crisis, as well as make additional donations to ensure that all non-playing staff at Barcelona would continue to be paid in full.
The announcement came via Messi’s Instagram, where he outlined the teams’ plans to support both the club and its employees. Messi wrote: “For our part, the moment has arrived to announce that, aside from the 70 percent wage cut during the State of Emergency, we are going to also make contributions so that all the club’s employees can earn 100 percent of their salaries for as long as this situation lasts.”
With that, Messi has led the way for all other athletes to make concessions and ensure those not lucky enough to be multi-millionaires can get by.
According to Forbes, Messi earns around $92 million a
You can listen, watch and read the full Off Script episode with Neville discussing Man Utd’s transfers across our Sky Sports platforms from 7am on Thursday
Last Updated: 02/04/20 7:59am
In the latest Off Script, Gary Neville explains Sir Alex Ferguson’s successful transfer policy at Manchester United.
Neville explained how Ferguson worked within three distinct categories, creating a “slow conveyor belt” of transfers in and out of the club, which led to huge success over a 27-year stint at Old Trafford.
You can listen, watch and read the full Off Script episode with Neville discussing Man Utd’s transfers across our Sky Sports platforms from 7am on Thursday.
“There were three categories,” Neville explained to Geoff Shreeves. “His policy was to promote youth wherever possible, that was No 1 before he even looked at the external market.
“No 2 was to look at the best in the Premier League, those he could trust, and still have growth and be with the club for a long time. Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Robin van Persie.
“And then he always wanted emerging international talent that could come over to Manchester, that he could work with and develop into great players. Nemanja Vidic, Peter Schmeichel, Patrice Evra, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.