Xavi praises Ibrahimovic

Ibrahimovic joined Paris St Germain last month in a deal that saw him leave AC Milan, and his new club face Barca in a friendly in the French capital on Saturday.

Xavi, a three-time UEFA Champions League winner, believes the signing of the Sweden international is a move that can propel PSG to European success in the future.

“PSG are a very good side, they have signed some top level players like Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to add to the good players that were already there,” said the 32-year-old midfielder.

“They are another candidate for the Champions League. They have set themselves the objective of winning the Champions League in the short to medium term and they have the financial means.”

Top level

Xavi knows Ibrahimovic from the striker’s season with the Catalan club in 2009-10.

Although the 30-year-old target-man endured a difficult relationship with coach Pep Guardiola, he did find the net 21 times and Xavi has only positive words.

“He is a great signing,” said the Spaniard. “He performed fantastically for us and he is a top level player.

“He can bring a lot to them, and is the signing they needed to go on and win the French title.

“I don’t think he had a disappointing season (at Barcelona in 2009-10).

“We won La Liga and got to the semi-finals of the Champions League, he scored important goals and we had a good understanding with him on the pitch and in the dressing room.

“He only stayed one year but he didn’t leave behind a bad image.”

Pereira could leave Porto

The Uruguay international is under contract with Porto until the summer of 2016 and is valued at around €30million (£23.8m).

However, he has reportedly attracted the interest of a number of leading European clubs, including Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool.

Paris St Germain, Napoli and Juventus have also been linked with the 26-year-old, whose representative believes a departure from Porto could happen.

Flavio Perchmen told Antena 1: “I spoke with Alvaro last week and he is calm. We are waiting to find out if there is any offer.

“We think everything will go well and that he can leave the club, but right now we do not have any concrete offer.”

Sakho not for sale

Sakho has also been linked with a move to England and to Serie A giants AC Milan since the summer transfer window opened.

Thiago Silva’s arrival at Parc des Prince has sparked the rumours, with it felt that the 22-year-old may be forced down the pecking order.

It has been suggested that he could be the ideal candidate to replace Silva in Milan, with the Rossoneri in the market for a new centre-half.

Lyon are also looking to bolster their ranks and have enquired as to the availability of Sakho and midfielder Clement Chantome.

Educated

It is, however, unlikely that PSG will be agreeing to part with two academy products any time soon.

“Chantome and Sakho are two players that are very difficult to get because they were educated at the club,” Bernard Lacombe, advisor to Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, told belNSport.

“PSG are forced to register four players educated by the club in the Champions League. So they will not part with them.

“PSG replied ‘no’ to us both on sport and administrative levels.”

'Mercenary' jibes anger Silva

The defender looked to be staying at AC Milan after they rejected a bid from PSG and he promptly pledged his future to boss Massimiliano Allegri by signing a new five-year deal at the club.

But the Brazilian ended his three-year stay at the Italian club when he followed Zlatan Ibrahimovic out of the door at the San Siro soon afterwards.

The pair headed for Paris in a combined deal worth €65 million and sparked fury amongst the fans who have seen a number of high-profile stars leave the club this summer.

But Silva insists he was forced out and it is the club chiefs that decided to cash in on him after resurrecting the deal with PSG director Leonardo.

“I had made it very clear that I wanted to stay until the end of my contract, Silva told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I also extended with AC Milan until 2016 and I was happy.

Financial difficulties

“Then things changed again. Leonardo called me and told me negotiations were reopened and that they wanted me.

“I was a bit confused, but I knew that AC Milan had financial difficulties and it would be very hard to stay – if it were not for this I would still be there.

“I am not a mercenary, Milan was my home. On the other hand they made a lot of money on the deal. AC Milan paid €10million for me and sold me for €42million.

“It is true that Milan have lost some quality. They have also lost leading figures such as [Clarence] Seedorf, [Filippo] Inzaghi, and [Gennaro] Gattuso.

“Milan will have to rebuild the team. It will not be easy, but Allegri is an intelligent coach who will find solutions.”

Ajax closing on Sana

The 23-year-old will travel to Amsterdam for a medical at the Eredivisie club before putting pen to paper on a deal.

His agent, Anders Karlsson, told Fotbolldirekt: “There is a verbal agreement, then he will pass a medical.”

Meanwhile, the Dutch champions have also captured 19-year-old midfielder Ilan Boccara from the Paris St Germain academy.

No regrets

The young Dutchman has signed his first professional contract with Ajax and is hoping for some playing time.

“I have no regrets about leaving,” Boccara told L’Equipe. “I spent six beautiful years at PSG, but I need to play.

“PSG and Ajax are two extremes. At PSG there are lots of stars now, while Ajax has always trusted its young players.

“At PSG I knew I would not play with the professionals. At Ajax, if I am good, I will get opportunities.”

Ibra – PSG better than Milan

The 30-year-old striker made the switch from Serie A to Ligue 1 earlier this summer alongside Brazilian defender Thiago Silva.

And with Milan yet to replace the key duo, Ibrahimovic is convinced that the French side now have the superior team.

“We will have a better team than Milan this season, for sure. Why? Because Milan have lost its two best players.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Quotes of the week:

“We will have a better team than Milan this season, for sure,” said the Sweden international.

“Why? Because Milan have lost its two best players.”

Ibrahimovic has signed a three-year deal with Carlo Ancelotti’s side and required just three minutes to find the net in a friendly against DC United.

But Dwayne de Rosario later netted for the hosts, forcing PSG to settle for a draw to end their US tour.

Ibrahimovic added: “On my goal, I moved to find the right space and I hit the left.

“I’m still in preparation, I’m not 100% but I work to find an optimal shape. Playing those games will help me get there.”

Deserved

Ancelotti was satisfied with his side’s performance, insisting they did enough to emerge victorious.

“We played well and deserved to win,” said the Italian coach.

“The weather conditions made it something of a strange game. We were also up against a side who were in perfect physical condition.

“We did a lot of running and that’s a very good thing in terms of our preparation for the new season.

“July has been a very good month for the team and I think the next 10 days will be too. We will be ready for the start of the championship.

“Zlatan made a fantastic start to the match with a very good goal too.”

Nasri banned for Euros conduct

The FFF held a hearing on Friday and decided that the Manchester City midfielder must serve a three-match suspension due to the foul-mouthed insults he directed at reporters following France’s quarter-final defeat to Spain.

Paris St Germain winger Jeremy Menez also faces a one-game ban for his behaviour in relation to an argument with the referee during the Spain game as well as a row with captain Hugo Lloris.

Two other France players, Yann M’Vila and Hatem Ben Arfa escaped with a warning following their hearings.

Rennes midfielder M’Vila’s charge also stemmed from the Spain match, when he was substituted and did not shake hands with either his replacement Olivier Giroud or then coach Laurent Blanc.

Newcastle playmaker Ben Arfa, meanwhile, was referred to the commission over an alleged argument with Blanc in the dressing room after the group-stage defeat to Sweden.

The clampdown on the behaviour of France players comes as a result of the 2010 World Cup debacle that saw several of the squad propose strike action during the tournament in South Africa.

Calm

FFF discipline commission president Jean Mazzella told L’Equipe: “The meeting was calm, the players gave explanations and showed a very good attitude.

“They defended themselves but they answered all the questions we asked them. They did not apologise, they showed regret.”

As a result of the sanctions, Les Bleus’ new coach Didier Deschamps will be without both Nasri and Menez for their August 15 friendly against Uruguay.

Nasri will also be sidelined for their first two qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup, away to Finland on September 7 and at home to Belarus four days later.

Lyon tracking Sakho

The 22-year-old centre-back has already played more than 150 games for PSG but could find himself out of the first-team following the high-profile signing of Thiago Silva this summer.

Lyon are eyeing a move for the France international but, with coach Remi Garde under pressure to raise funds before he can add to his squad, a formal bid could be delayed.

Bernard Lacombe, advisor to club president Jean-Michel Aulas, has admitted that Lyon are interested in Sakho.

“The plan is to sell two players before we start recruiting,” Lacombe told L’Equipe.

“But it’s true, we at least need one central defender and maybe a defensive midfielder. That is why we are interested in Mamadou Sakho.”

No Nene solution at PSG

Nene was among PSG’s most consistent performers last season and finished the campaign with 21 goals to his name.

Reports are, however, suggesting that he no longer figures in Carlo Ancelotti’s plans.

The 31-year-old forward has just one year remaining on his contract in the French capital and Leonardo admits all options are still open, with club and player eager to find a suitable solution.

“Even though Nene only has one year left on his contract, we are not forced to offer him an extension or accept his departure,” Leonardo told L’Equipe.

“We are in talks and trying to find the best solution for both him and us. There is no rush.

“Nene could easily end up staying here. He has a year to run on his contract.

Value

“I have spoken with him and there is no trouble.

“Corinthians? They wanted him as a free agent, but that is not possible. Nene is not worth nothing.

“Talks with Galatasaray? They are not concrete at the moment.”

While Nene’s future in Paris remains uncertain, Leonardo concedes that France international Gameiro could be sold after just one season at Parc des Princes.

He said: “Gameiro to Valencia? We have talked.

“I have spoken with the player and we will see what happens. He is in good shape and there is no rush there either.”

Hulk and Moutinho key to Porto

Brazilian ace Hulk has been consistently linked with Chelsea over recent transfer windows, with the sticking point thought to be a reported €100million (£85m) release clause in his contract.

The 26-year-old, currently preparing for the Olympics with Brazil in London, is also believed to be on the radars of Tottenham and big-spending French club Paris St Germain.

Meanwhile, Portugal international Moutinho is also thought to be a target of Spurs, who are lining up a potential replacement for wantaway playmaker Luka Modric, while Manchester United and PSG are other clubs being linked with the 25-year-old.

Plans

However, Porto president Pinto da Costa has repeatedly stated he wants the duo to stay and coach Pereira is counting on both players for the new season.

He said: “Hulk and Joao Moutinho are both in my plans for next season.”

“They are our players and are very important to the structure of this team.

“I am not preoccupied by the possibility of big offers from England because I know the clear position of Porto’s president on this subject.”