Can Borussia Dortmund keep a hold of Erling Haaland for another season?

Europe's elite are queuing up to sign the Norway sensation.

Dortmund's disappointing season could be about to force their hand.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND TRYING TO RETAIN HAALAND

Borussia Dortmund will try to keep Erling Haaland for another season but their hopes are fading amid the club's struggles to finish in the Bundesliga's top four, according to Fabrizio Romano.

As it stands, Dortmund are set to miss out on Champions League qualification, with the German side fifth and seven points adrift of fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt following Saturday's loss.

Haaland is a player in demand, linked with Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror reports United are set to part with star goalkeeper David de Gea. The Red Devils are reportedly prepared to pay a large chunk of De Gea's remaining contract, with Dean Henderson pushing to become the club's first choice.

Haaland is ahead of Lionel Messi on City's transfer list, claims The Mirror. Pep Guardiola's City have been heavily linked with Barcelona superstar Messi, who is out of contract at season's end. But City now appear determined to prise Haaland from Dortmund as Sergio Aguero prepares to leave. Aguero has been linked with the likes of Chelsea, InterBarca, PSG and Juventus on a free transfer.

Neymar has put contract talks with PSG on hold, according to Ara, which claims he is willing to return to Barca.

- It comes as Marca says PSG are eyeing Madrid forward Vinicius Junior amid Kylian Mbappe's links with the LaLiga champions.

Neymar was handed his first start for Paris Saint-Germain since early February as Mauricio Pochettino's team tackled title rivals Lille.

The Brazil star forward made a 20-minute appearance in the 4-2 win over Lyon before the international break, and he was restored to the starting XI on Saturday for a crucial Parc des Princes clash.

Neymar endured a long absence after suffering an adductor injury in PSG's Coupe de France win away at Caen on February 10.

He missed nine games across all competitions, including the Champions League last-16 triumph over his former club Barcelona.

For the visit of Lille, head coach Pochettino loaded his team with attacking talent, selecting Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria behind Moise Kean.

That could be a sign of things to come for the Champions League quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

However, Pochettino was without a number of players due to fitness and health reasons, including Marco Verratti, Layvin Kurzawa and Mauro Icardi.

Pochettino discussed Neymar's anticipated return on Friday, hoping for a big contribution from the superstar over the closing two months of the season.

Having scored 13 goals in 19 games so far this term, the importance of his return is obvious to a team chasing domestic and Champions League success.

"The truth is that the international break was important for Neymar," Pochettino said. "He was able to train at a good level for two weeks.

"Now he has to play. We're happy with the way he trained. We are pleased with his involvement and improvements in the areas he needs to improve."

PSG headed into Saturday's game sitting top of Ligue 1, albeit only ahead of Lille on goal difference.

Mauricio Pochettino is confident speculation around Kylian Mbappe's future, which the player himself provoked this week, will not have a negative impact on Paris Saint-Germain in the final weeks of the season.

PSG have been trying to secure new contracts for superstars Mbappe and Neymar, but progress appears more likely in the case of the Brazil forward.

Mbappe, like fellow Champions League sensation Erling Haaland, continues to be linked with the world's top clubs.

While Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland's representatives reportedly met with Barcelona and Real Madrid on Thursday, Mbappe's actions also added to doubts around his future.

The France forward told RTL constant discussion of his performances in his home country was "tiring", especially as, playing in Ligue 1, "I'm here all the time".

"I knew when I signed in Paris that I was going to be in this context," Mbappe said. "We'll see after that."

The 22-year-old added it "of course" would play into his thinking when considering his next move, although no decision has yet been made.

Mbappe said: "If I had moved forward, I would have come to talk about it by now. Of course, when I make my decision, I will come and talk about it."

These words could reasonably worry PSG coach Pochettino, who relies heavily on Mbappe.

The former Monaco man has 30 goals and nine assists in all competitions this season, his 39 goal involvements ranking fifth across Europe's 'top five' leagues.

But Pochettino said ahead of PSG's top-of-the-table clash with Lille: "I didn't listen to what Kylian said. I can't comment on it and I don't have an opinion on that."

 

Mbappe became the youngest player to reach 100 Ligue 1 goals prior to the international break and has a career-high six league assists against Lille.

Pochettino expects the World Cup winner, netting once every 91.9 minutes this season, to set talk of his future aside and perform again.

"The truth is that he is good, he has a good state of mind and has trained well," Pochettino said. "He came back ready to help the team.

"We will manage the whole team and not just Kylian in order to achieve our end-of-season goals.

"Things need time to be settled. Kylian is very focused on giving the best for the team. I don't see any problem with his situation. He will give everything to help the team win.

"I don't think Kylian's end of season will be affected by all this. He's focused on giving his best every training session and every game."

PSG are without a host of players against Lille, including Marco Verratti, who is set to be evaluated again this weekend ahead of the Champions League tie against Bayern Munich.

But Neymar, restricted to just 19 appearances this season, is ready to have an impact in the run-in.

"The truth is that the international break was important for Neymar," Pochettino said. "He was able to train at a good level for two weeks.

"Now he has to play. We're happy with the way he trained. We are pleased with his involvement and improvements in the areas he needs to improve."

PSG have not lost at home to Lille in the league since April 1996 but, following an away goalless draw, could go two without a win against them for the first time since a run of four games between January 2010 and April 2012.

Manchester City have been linked with Erling Haaland.

As Sergio Aguero appears headed for an exit, Pep Guardiola wants to bolster his attack.

But Danny Ings has reportedly emerged as an alternative to the expensive and in-demand Haaland.

 

TOP STORY – CITY TARGET INGS

Manchester City are considering a move for Southampton star Danny Ings, according to Sky Sports.

City's all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero is out of contract at the end of the season and no closer to extending his deal in Manchester.

Pep Guardiola's City are reportedly among the admirers of Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool and Juventus.

With Haaland set to command a huge fee, City are eyeing former Liverpool forward Ings as a cheaper alternative.

 

ROUND-UP

- Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport report Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo is on the brink of being sacked. Juve are out of the Champions League and 10 points off the pace following their shock loss to Benevento. Former boss Massimiliano Allegri has been linked with a return, while La Repubblica claims Atalanta's Gian Piero Gasperini, Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi and Luciano Spalletti are on a three-man shortlist.

- Former Chelsea and Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri is Roma's number one option should they sack head coach Paulo Fonseca, says Gazzetta dello Sport. Fonseca – under pressure in the Italian capital – has also been linked with Napoli, alongside Hellas Verona's Ivan Juric. Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso has been linked with Fiorentina, Torino and Bologna.

Neymar re-signing with Ligue 1 holders PSG is "just a matter of time", according to Fabrizio Romano.

Aaron Ramsey is interested in a move to Premier League champions Liverpool, according to Calciomercato. The Juventus midfielder, who left Arsenal for Turin in 2019, is seen as a possible replacement for rumoured Barca target Georginio Wijnaldum at Anfield.

- The Daily Express reports Arsenal are eyeing Barcelona misfit Philippe Coutinho. However, a move will depend on whether Arsenal sign loanee Martin Odegaard permanently from Madrid.

Xabi Alonso is set to become the new head coach of Borussia Monchengladbach next season, replacing Dortmund-bound Marco Rose. Romano, however, insists no contract has been signed as the former Bayern Munich star remains in charge of Real Sociedad's B team.

Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham believes signing stars such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar is far from a pipe dream for the MLS club.

The franchise has been linked with offers for Barcelona captain Messi and Juventus superstar Ronaldo as they approach the final years of their storied careers, while Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar stated last year he had given Beckham his word he would sign for him in the future.

Former Manchester United midfielder and England captain Beckham remains confident he can attract players of such calibre to Florida.

"When we announced Miami, there was always going to be talk about what players we were going to bring in, whether it was Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar," Beckham told ESPN.

"There was always going to be those discussions. I actually don't think it's a tough one for players to decide, to be honest, because it's a great place.

"Obviously, it's a great city, I feel like we've got a great fan base, but I also understand there's great talent in Miami and South Florida, and I think we have a real opportunity. Miami is a city that has that pull on players who have been playing in Europe that are big stars."

After signing notable names such as Gonzalo Higuain, Blaise Matuidi and Rodolfo Pizarro, Inter Miami endured a tough time in 2020, finishing 10th in the Eastern Conference before losing in the play-in round of the playoffs.

Inter Miami also suffered three defeats in three games in Group A of the MLS Is Back tournament amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Co-owner Beckham is now hoping for a brighter second season in MLS under former team-mate Phil Neville, who took over from Diego Alonso as head coach.

"[Neville] is the kind of coach that will get the best out of the players," said Beckham. "He won't just work with the [Designated Players], he works with the young kids that have come through the academies.

"His experience being a part of one of the best academies in the game at Manchester United when we were growing up, working with different coaches.

"He was David Moyes' assistant at Manchester United, he was an assistant coach at Valencia, and then obviously he went on to be the coach of the England women's national team, which was a great experience, but also challenging at times."

Neymar has been included in Paris Saint-Germain's squad for the Ligue 1 clash at Lyon on Sunday, head coach Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed. 

The Brazil star has been out of action since suffering an adductor injury in PSG's Coupe de France win away at Caen on February 10.

He has missed nine games across all competitions, including the Champions League last-16 triumph over his former club Barcelona, but the 29-year-old could make his return at the Groupama Stadium.

Speaking at his pre-match media conference, Pochettino revealed that while Neymar has been included in the squad against Lyon, he is unlikely to feature from the start.

"Neymar is in the list of players who will be in the group," he said. "It is a great joy to be able to count on him. It's a big step for him and for the team.

"We like to apply common sense. After the match against Caen, it's been about five weeks or almost six since he played. It will be difficult to see him from the start of the match.

"It's already good that he can be there. He will get in shape to have more and more minutes."

Second-placed PSG are level on points with Lyon, who sit in third, and are looking to end a winless run of four top-flight games against the other top-four teams. 

However, the reigning champions go into the clash in fine form on the road, having won their last three away games in Ligue 1 without conceding a goal – the best current run in the league. 

PSG suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Lyon in December under former boss Thomas Tuchel and Pochettino has warned his players to expect another tough game against an "aggressive" side.

"The truth is, it's a very important game," he added. "I don't know if it's a final but it's almost like it. It is three very important points for the standings. It won't be definitive, but it will be very important for the classification.

"The circumstances of each match are different. We hope that it [the defeat] will not be repeated but we expect an aggressive Lyon with a lot of quality.

"The players in the middle in Lyon are great players and it will be difficult. Either team can win. We respect Lyon but we are going there to bring back the three points."

PSG announced Mauro Icardi will miss the game after suffering a low-grade muscular tear to his left thigh, while they will also be without Juan Bernat, Pablo Sarabia, Thilo Kehrer and Alexandre Letellier.

Real Madrid are hatching a plan to land former star Cristiano Ronaldo.

Los Blancos' transfer priorities this upcoming off-season appear to be Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Madrid's financial might but Ronaldo remains on their radar.

 

TOP STORY - REAL PLOT 'SYMBOLIC PRICE' FOR RONALDO

Real Madrid are considering a one-year contract for Cristiano Ronaldo for a "symbolic price", according to Cuatro.

The 36-year-old appears set to leave Juventus in the off-season after three years in Turin.

Madrid have reportedly started working on an economic plan to land Ronaldo should their other priorities not eventuate.

ROUND-UP

- Le10Sport claims that Paris Saint-Germain are set to agree terms with Brazilian superstar Neymar on a fresh deal which would secure his signature until 2026.

- Manchester United's Diogo Dalot is keen to make his loan stay at Milan permanent, according to Todo Fichajes.

- Todo Fichajes is also reporting that 43-year-old Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is looking to finish his career at Parma.

Juventus are monitoring Paul Pogba's contract situation at Manchester United amid talk of a move, according to Calciomercato.

- GiveMeSport claims Leicester City will make an eight-figure bid for Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard with their interest in him previously well known.

Neymar will be reunited with Lionel Messi at Camp Nou, according to the Brazilian's former agent and ex-Barcelona scout Andre Cury.

Cury spent a decade with Barcelona working as their Brazilian scout and played a key role in Neymar's move to the Catalans in 2013.

After forging a fruitful partnership with Messi, with Barca winning LaLiga in 2014-15 and 2015-16 and three straight Copa del Rey crowns, Neymar left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 but Cury said the pair could be reunited.

Messi has been linked with a move away from Barcelona, including to PSG or Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, but Cury said he felt the reunion would occur with the Catalans.

"Two years ago, Neymar formally asked me to return to Barcelona, we tried and we were really close to getting him out of Paris, but because of details, it didn't happen," Cury told Argentine outlet El Litoral.

"[New Barcelona president Joan] Laporta is the only one who can bring them back together again, Messi won't leave Barcelona, he decided that his history is in Barcelona and I'm very clear on that.

"Neymar will play with Messi again, but in Barcelona."

The 29-year-old Brazil international has enjoyed a successful three and a half seasons in Paris, winning three Ligue 1 titles, numerous cups and finishing as 2019-20 Champions League runners-up, although injuries have affected his impact at times.

"Neymar has an open door at Barcelona, their fans know he made a mistake and even he recognised it some time later," Cury said.

Mauricio Pochettino revealed Neymar is close to returning for Paris Saint-Germain as he urged critics to respect the team's Champions League win over Barcelona.

The PSG head coach did not specify whether Neymar would come into contention for Sunday's home match against lowly Nantes, who sit 19th in the 20-team Ligue 1 table.

Speaking on Saturday, Pochettino faced questions about the performance of his players in the second leg of their clash with Barcelona, with a string of excellent saves by Keylor Navas, including a penalty stop from Lionel Messi, helping the French side snatch a 1-1 draw.

That clinched a 5-2 aggregate victory, and Pochettino wants to hear more admiration for such a scoreline, given the stature of the opposition.

On the question of when Neymar would return from an injury lay-off that has extended to a month, Pochettino explained: "I think I said there was a chance he'd be back for the Barcelona game.

"We also knew it would be difficult to set a timeframe because players' recoveries can be difficult to predict. He has trained with the squad today, we are pleased with his progress, and we hope he will be back with the team soon."

But Pochettino was probed over how PSG allowed Barcelona to be so dominant for large parts of the second leg of their European tie, particularly the first half, and he was not happy for his team's achievement to be followed by such interrogation.

"I don't understand why we should be so focused on that," Pochettino said.

"That was the story of the first half of the second leg against Barcelona when we didn't play well. That is the reality. But focusing too much on that in my opinion would be a mistake.

"Of course we analyse everything that happens during games but we mustn't forget the team have reached the quarter-finals after beating a strong Barcelona side, and overall it finished 5-2 after 180 minutes. That is the reality.

"There have been games where we played well and lost, such as the game against Monaco [which PSG lost 2-0 last month], and other games where we haven't performed so well.

"The most important thing is to learn and we do have to improve because none of us were happy with the first half, but after achieving such a big target I think our performance in the first half can be downplayed."

With third-placed Lyon only drawing against Reims on Friday, PSG remain in the thick of a title battle, with leaders Lille having a tricky clash with Monaco on Sunday.

PSG sit second as they chase a fourth successive league title, and they cannot afford to slip up against a Nantes side who are equally in need of points.

"Yes, it will be a tough game for us," Pochettino said. "I wouldn't say it would be a trap, but we are aware that after such a happy night for the club and the fans, with us getting through in the Champions League, it is in our minds that the next game is important. That is the theory, but we know it's an important game and we have to put that into practice.

"Preparation is essential in football. We often say we are ready, but Nantes are a physical side who will make things difficult, just as Monaco did after we played Barcelona [in the first leg], but that is why our performance level is essential and we have to be fresh.

"I will try to select a team that can really battle with Nantes and have that freshness that can give us the energy that we need in this sort of game."

A second coming for Cristiano Ronaldo in the Spanish capital?

After a trophy-laden spell with Real Madrid, Ronaldo made the switch to Juventus.

But Madrid's all-time leading goalscorer is reportedly keen on a second stint at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO EYEING MADRID REUNION

Cristiano Ronaldo wants to return to Real Madrid, according to the frontpage of Saturday's Diario AS.

Ronaldo's future with Juventus has been placed in doubt following the club's Champions League last-16 exit.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who left Madrid for Juve in 2018, has reportedly been in contact with Los Blancos for months.

 

ROUND-UP

- New Barcelona president Joan Laporta will offer superstar captain Lionel Messi a fresh contract in the coming weeks, reports Mundo Deportivo. The deal would include Messi – heavily tipped to join either Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City as a free agent at the end of the season – becoming a club ambassador after retirement. Laporta is also set to push ahead with moves for Bayern Munich's David Alaba, Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and City forward Sergio Aguero.

City lead the race to sign Haaland, according to the Daily Mail. Haaland is a player in demand, linked with Manchester United, Chelsea, LiverpoolJuve, PSG, Barca and Madrid.

Joao Felix is also an option at the Etihad Stadium. Cuatro claims the Atletico Madrid star is a target if Aguero leaves City.

- Le10Sport claims PSG remain in talks with Neymar over a four-year contract extension. A deal is believed to be some way off.

Harry Maguire wants United to sign an English-speaking defender, reports The Transfer Window Podcast. The Red Devils have been linked with Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and team-mate Raphael Varane, Sevilla's Jules Kounde, RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate and Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly. But Brighton and Hove Albion's Ben White has emerged as a target.

- TMW Radio says Atletico could be set to make a move for Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz. The Spain international has been previously linked with Barca and Madrid.

Mauricio Pochettino explained he simply could not risk Neymar as he is "not in a condition to compete" against former club Barcelona on Wednesday.

The world's most expensive footballer suffered an adductor injury playing for Paris Saint-Germain against Caen in the Coupe de France on February 10.

Initial predictions suggested Neymar could return for the Champions League last-16 second leg this week.

PSG won the first match 4-1 at Camp Nou and Neymar has been progressing in training, with Pochettino repeatedly insisting he was on schedule.

But the head coach acknowledged last week he was not guaranteed to be back in the squad for the visit of the Blaugrana.

A medical update from the club on Tuesday subsequently confirmed Neymar would miss out, and Pochettino added in his news conference that an appearance had become unrealistic.

"It is not a decision," he told a news conference. "The fact is the player cannot play. He is not in a condition to compete.

"He made a great effort to get back quickly, but the goal is not just the Champions League.

"It's a difficult time for him but I hope he can come back as soon as possible."

Wednesday's encounter will be the 21st game Neymar has missed this season, playing just 18 times in all competitions.

Since joining PSG in 2017, he has made 25 Champions League appearances - scoring 20 goals and assisting nine - but only six of these outings have come in the knockout stages. Five of the six were in the 2019-20 run to the final.

Although Neymar will be absent again, he at least will not be in the opposition XI as he was just months before moving to Paris, inspiring Barca's epic 6-1 second-leg win to complete a remarkable aggregate comeback in 2016-17.

However, Barca were at home for the second leg on that occasion and no team in the history of the European Cup has advanced after reaching the halfway point of a tie three or more goals behind with the away match still to play.

Pochettino, only appointed at PSG this year, certainly has no concerns about history repeating itself, even if he is guarded against complacency.

"For us, the past goes back to January 3, when we joined the club," he said.

"It's a game we have to go through to reach the next round. That will be our approach from the first minute.

"We have to be consistent for 90 minutes. In football, the most important thing is to be focused.

"We're going to start as if it were 0-0 and we want to win to qualify."

That focus means Pochettino had little interest in entertaining talk on the future of Kylian Mbappe, the hat-trick hero in the first leg.

"This is a situation that the club has been managing for a long time," Pochettino said. "As I have always said, both sides must agree.

"But both the club and the player are focused on meeting the goals that the club set at the start of the season, arriving at the end of the season having achieved or gone close to those goals."

Ronald Koeman maintains another miraculous comeback against Paris Saint-Germain is not beyond Barcelona's capabilities, especially with Lionel Messi in the side.

Barca head to the Parc des Princes on Wednesday trailing 4-1 from the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick in PSG's commanding win at Camp Nou last month, leaving Barca requiring a remarkable result in France if they are to go through, with no team having ever progressed from a knockout tie in the competition's history after losing the first leg at home by three goals or more.

The Catalans are also on a miserable run away from home in Europe, having won only once in their past nine such knockout stage matches, failing to score in six of those games.

Barca pulled off an unforgettable comeback against PSG four years ago, recovering from losing the first leg 4-0 in Paris to progress after a sensational 6-1 win at home.

Koeman accepts a repeat of that famous 'remontada' is less likely given PSG are the home side for the second leg on this occasion, and the Barca boss does not believe Mauricio Pochettino's men will be afraid of history repeating itself.

However, even with centre-backs Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo missing through injury, Koeman will not give up on Messi and Barca producing another match to remember.

"We had a bad result in the reverse fixture. It all depends on how we start the game. We'll try to make life difficult," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"It depends on our effectiveness. They had a lot in the first game. We go out to win on any pitch. We always create a lot of chances. Nothing is impossible.

"The comeback in the Copa del Rey [against Sevilla] has given us confidence, but it's not the same to come back from 2-0 at home as coming back from 4-1 away, and PSG are a very strong team.

"To be able to have any chance, we have to have a complete night and have a huge amount of effectiveness. But we'll try. Hopefully, we can make things tough.

"We have to go out strong and play our game and create chances. If, after the game, we have the feeling we've given our utmost, we'll see what the result is. The worst thing that can happen is to think we haven't tried, or we haven't given everything.

"Of course, if we think we can come back, we need every player at their best level. If Leo is able to play one of his best games, everything is possible.

"He can decide any game in any moment. But it shouldn't only be him at his best level, but the whole team. We need luck, too.

"I don't think PSG are scared of us. I'm sure their coach will prepare them in the best way so they don't think it's an easy game, but there are circumstances that are totally different for a comeback [this time].

"It's always easier playing the second leg at home than away. We need to play our game. I'm sure they have confidence in their new coach."

Midfielder Frenkie de Jong thinks Barca's comeback against Sevilla, when they won 3-0 after extra time at Camp Nou to overturn a 2-0 Copa semi-final deficit, proves the players are united behind their coach.

With Neymar still unavailable due to an adductor injury, De Jong is keeping faith in his side's chances.

"The main objective is always to qualify," he said. "We're going to compete and see how things go.

"We're always united. Recently, we've been getting good results, and we're united as a team – you could see that against Sevilla.

"I don't know if 4-1 was fair, but we played that game badly. We're going to Paris to give a good image of ourselves, to compete.

"Neymar is among the best in the world. The fact he's not available is better for us. If Neymar isn't there, the opposition are less strong."

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar has been ruled out of the Champions League last-16 second leg against Barcelona.

The 29-year-old has been sidelined since suffering an adductor injury against Caen in the Coupe de France on February 10.

Having missed the thumping 4-1 first-leg victory at Camp Nou, Neymar had been hoping to return for the visit of his old club to the French capital, even if he was likely to be a substitute.

However, PSG issued an update on Tuesday to confirm the Brazil international remains out of action as he continues individual recovery work.

Left-back Juan Bernat is also still sidelined due to a knee injury, while striker Moise Kean is isolating after returning a positive coronavirus test last week.

South America's footballing governing body has suspended the two World Cup qualifying rounds due to take place in March.

CONMEBOL issued a statement on Saturday confirming it will speak with FIFA and national associations to agree on new dates for the matches.

The decision was taken amid concerns around the logistics of players joining up with their national teams while travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic are in place.

CONMEBOL said it was "impossible" to guarantee all South American players could link up with respective squads in a timely manner.

The next two rounds of matches were scheduled to be held on March 25, 26 and 30.

Paris Saint-Germain captain Marquinhos has described claims Kylian Mbappe plays better when Neymar is not in the team as "nonsense". 

Brazil international Neymar has not played since suffering an adductor injury against Caen in the Coupe de France on February 10. 

Mbappe has scored five goals in four appearances since then, including a stunning hat-trick in PSG's 4-1 win over Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash. 

Indeed, PSG have won 76.5 per cent of their Ligue 1 games this season that Neymar has not played in, compared to 54.5 per cent when he has featured. 

However, Marquinhos has given short shrift to the suggestion Mbappe flourishes in Neymar's absence. 

"I see people talking and we cannot go into these stories," he told RTL. "We have to stop with nonsense like that.

"We always want to have the best players with us. If you ask Kylian, I think he also prefers it when he has Neymar next to him. 

"Kylian was there and did the right thing, the other players too have been important in this game [against Barca]. When the team is good, that's where the individuals come out even more."

World Cup winner Mbappe has been in wonderful form this season, scoring 23 goals in 31 appearances across all competitions. 

PSG face Brest in the Coupe de France on Saturday before Wednesday's second leg against Barca, and Marquinhos is in no doubt that his 22-year-old team-mate has the belief to take centre stage again. 

"It [the first leg] boosted his confidence," he added. "Scoring three goals at Camp Nou is something very important for him and for us.

"Everyone understands what he is capable of. We are here to help him as much as possible. 

"He is a leader on the field with his personality and his qualities. He had an exceptional match."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.