Former Spain manager Vicente del Bosque has said he would not have brought Neymar back to La Liga had he been coach of Barcelona or Real Madrid, even though he recognises the Brazilian's outstanding qualities as a player.
Barcelona held several meetings with Paris St Germain to bring the Brazilian back to the Camp Nou two years after he walked out on them to join the French side for a world record fee of 222 million euros (about $245 million).
But the two clubs failed to strike a deal before the transfer window closed on Sept. 2, with PSG's sporting director Leonardo claiming that the Spanish champions had failed to meet his side's asking price.
Leonardo also acknowledged that his club had spoken to Real Madrid about the forward.
Neymar has scored 51 goals for PSG but both of his seasons in France have been marred by serious injuries at key stages in the campaign.
He also had an on-field dispute with teammate Edinson Cavani over penalty taking duties.
"I think it would have been good for the Spanish league if he had come back but if I was a coach of a club I wouldn't have brought him back," Del Bosque told Spanish television network Estudio Estadio.
"Whilst I'll say he is a brilliant player, I don't think very highly of him for other reasons."
Del Bosque, who won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 as Spain coach plus two Champions League titles as coach of Real, also criticised Neymar for the manner in which he left Barcelona in 2017.
"With Barcelona he did not behave well, in fact he behaved badly, very badly," he added.
"If you surveyed Barcelona fans I'm sure that more than half of them wouldn't want him back. There's a reason for that."
Kompany seeks more diversity in governing bodies after Lukaku abuse
Soccer's governing bodies lack the diversity needed to understand the feelings of players suffering racial abuse, Anderlecht player-manager Vincent Kompany said on Wednesday.
Former Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku, who joined Inter Milan last month, was subjected to racist abuse in a 2-1 Serie A win at Cagliari on Sunday and urged federations and social media to do more to fight racism.
His Belgian compatriot Kompany believes the problem lies with the game's governing bodies, including FIFA and UEFA.
"It goes back to who is expected to make a decision on these issues, and it's in these organisations that the problems lie," former Manchester City skipper Kompany told Sky Sports.
"The real racism lies in the fact none of these institutions have representatives that can actually understand what Romelu is going through."
Kompany has previously said that diversity in club boardrooms and institutions of power can help tackle racism more effectively than just punishing individual offenders.
"If you don't have diversity in places of power like boardrooms then you can't have the right decisions in terms of sanctions -- it's as simple as that," he added.
An Inter Milan fan group, Curva Nord, said Cagliari's supporters were only showing Lukaku "respect" when they aimed monkey chants at him.
"We understand that it could have seemed racist to you but it's not like that," the group said in an open letter to Lukaku.
"In Italy we use some 'ways' only to 'help our teams' and to try to make our opponents nervous, not for racism but to mess them up... we are not racist and so are not the Cagliari fans.
"Please consider this attitude of Italian fans as a form of respect for the fact they are afraid of you for the goals you might score against their teams and not because they hate you or they are racist."
Twitter vows to tackle online racist abuse of players in Britain
Twitter said it has taken action on more than 700 cases of “abuse and hateful conduct” related to football in Britain in the last two weeks and promised on Wednesday to continue its efforts to curb the menace.
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba was a target of racist abuse online after missing a penalty in a Premier game last month and Twitter had said it would discuss the issue with the club and British anti-discriminatory body Kick It Out.
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard called on social media firms to register their users in order to stamp out racist comments after defender Kurt Zouma and striker Tammy Abraham were targeted.
“In the past two weeks, we’ve taken action on more than 700 examples of abuse and hateful conduct related to UK football,” Twitter UK said.
“This vile content has no place on our service. We will continue to take swift action on the minority that try to undermine the conversation for the majority.
“This behaviour does not reflect the vast majority of fans who use Twitter... we’ve spent years forging strong partnerships with clubs, organisations and supporters and deeply value the relationships.”
The social media firm said that it had met with England’s Professional Footballers’ Association and affected clubs and agreed proactive measures to collectively tackle the issue.
“We want to play our part in curbing this unacceptable behaviour... and will continue engaging with partners and clubs, protecting the conversation from abuse, and taking rapid action on accounts that break our rules,” Twitter UK added.
“Working with the @PFA, we will participate in their player training programme and will be joining a series of educational sessions with its membership to support the PFA’s ambition to tackle the issue.
“Working with @kickitout, we will continue our working relationship with UK policing to further brief them and provide training on our policies, procedures and dedicated 24/7 reporting channels for law enforcement.”
England call-up sweeter for Mings after tough beginnings
Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings said his England call-up was all the sweeter because of his bleak prospects a few years ago when he was a part-time player working as a mortgage adviser.
The 26-year-old was among four uncapped players selected by England boss Gareth Southgate for Euro 2020 qualifiers against Bulgaria on Saturday and Kosovo three days later.
Mings' selection marks a remarkable rise after his release by Southampton as a youth, an injury-hit spell at Bournemouth and eventual success at Villa, who he helped return to the Premier League this season.
"When I was playing football part-time and working as a mortgage adviser I had different goals, playing for England seemed like a different world away," Mings told reporters.
"I just needed to get back into the professional game at that point. I can't say that while I was sat at my desk cold calling or trying to advise people on their mortgages that playing for England was an achievable goal."
Mings played for Yate Town and Chippenham Town before getting his break at Ipswich Town in 2012. He joined Bournemouth three years later but lasted only six minutes on his debut against Leicester City due to a knee injury.
After more injuries limited him to only 23 games in all competitions, Mings joined Villa on loan in January and helped them return to the top flight before completing a permanent switch for 20 million pounds ($24.55 million).
"I've been able to work with great coaches and... play for great clubs, everything has culminated to get me to this point," Mings said.
"At different times I've had to reassess my goals, with injuries and so forth, but that makes being sat here sweeter."
Costa Rica coach resigns, citing lack of stimulation
The coach of the Costa Rican national side resigned on Wednesday after less than a year in the job and blamed the frequent down times between games that made him feel unproductive.
“I realized that in the national side I feel unproductive even though I kill myself watching videos,” Gustavo Matosas said at a press conference. “It’s not what I like to be doing.”
An Argentine national who played for Uruguay, Matosas was in charge for just eight games but will stay on for Friday’s friendly against Uruguay in the Costa Rican capital.
Mexican and Costa Rican media said he was leaving to coach Mexican side Atletico San Luis.