Wednesday Kickoff: Neymar inches closer to Barcelona; Lewandowski only wants Bayern move; and more

Wednesday Kickoff: Neymar inches closer to Barcelona; Lewandowski only wants Bayern move; and more

South American Soccer

Wednesday Kickoff: Neymar inches closer to Barcelona; Lewandowski only wants Bayern move; and more

Neymar1-MogiMirimPaulista (GazetaPress)

By DAN KARELL

Neymar looks to be accelerating his move abroad.

After years of promising that he wouldn’t leave until after the 2014 World Cup on home soil, the Brazilian starlet is moving closer to a move to Barcelona this July, according to reports out of Brazil.

According to the reports, Neymar signed a deal with Barcelona last week, and could make his final appearance for Santos on Sunday in the side’s first domestic match of the season against Flamengo. The 21-year-old is set to join up with the Brazil squad for friendly matches and then the Confederations Cup starting on June 2.

The report also states that Neymar’s release clause on his current contract at Santos is more than $84 million, but that Barcelona has met it, and the Santos board could approve the deal as early as Wednesday. Barcelona star Lionel Messi is reported to have said this week that he would welcome a move for the Brazilian forward.

Since coming into the first team in 2009, Neymar has gone on to win the Paulista State Championship three times, the Brazilian Cup in 2010, and the Copa Libertadores in 2011. In this season’s Paulista tournament campaign, Neymar scored 12 goals in 18 appearances.

Here are some more stories to get your day started:

LEWANDOWSKI ONLY HAS EYES ON BAYERN MOVE

Borussia Dortmund enter their final match of the season before transfers could tear their side to shreds, and in addition to Mario Götze’s confirmed transfer to Bayern Munich, forward Robert Lewandowski could be headed there too.

Heading into the final year of his contract, reports in Germany have stated that Lewandowski has told Borussia that he only would move to Bayern Munich, ignoring the calls from Premier League or La Liga clubs. Lewandowski’s agent was reported last month to have said that he already has an agreement with a club, though it won’t be announced until after the season.

Borussia are looking to get what they can from the Poland international this summer to avoid the risk of losing him on a free transfer. Despite coming second in the league, Lewandowski improved his goal-scoring record in all competitions, bagging 36 goals in 48 matches.

GÖTZE SUFFERS INJURY SETBACK IN TRAINING

Mario Götze’s race to recover took a big hit on Tuesday at Borussia Dortmund training.

The 20-year-old midfielder reportedly suffered a setback to his recovery from an injured hamstring, forcing him out of practice and dwindling his chances of being available in his club’s biggest match of the year against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.

Götze first injured his hamstring in the Champions League semifinal second-leg defeat to Real Madrid on April 30 and had hoped to come back in time for the final at Wembley in London, but this setback has put doubts over his fitness levels.

The German international has had his best season for Borussia before he heads to Bayern Munich this summer, scoring 16 goals in 44 matches and providing some crucial assists along the way.

LIVERPOOL ACCEPTS WEST HAM BID FOR CARROLL

Two years on from a $52 million move from Newcastle to Liverpool, the Merseyside club are willing to sell off forward flop Andy Carroll for less than half what they paid.

West Ham, where Carroll has spent the season on loan, have had a bid for $22 million accepted by Liverpool for the 24-year-old forward. The England international scored seven goals in 24 Premier League appearances this season, but suffered a serious heel injury in the club’s final match against Reading, ruling him out for the next three to four months.

The transfer deal will become set in stone once Carroll agrees personal details, though it’s unknown at the moment if he wants to move permanently east London. There are also rumors that Newcastle has a clause in Carroll’s contract where they could buy him back at a cut price.

In other news, West Ham has announced that forward Carlton Cole will be let go when his contract ends in June, while confirming the signing of Romania captain Razvan Rat.

QUICK KICKS

Real Madrid have unveiled their kit for next season, featuring a yellow-orange alternate uniform. (REPORT)

Ajax manager Frank de Boer has signed a contract extension with the club through 2017 after winning three successive league titles. (REPORT)

AS Roma have been fined €50,000 and forced to close the “Curva Sud” which houses the club’s Ultras, for one match next season. (REPORT)

Brazilian club Internacional, managed by former Brazil coach Dunga, is reportedly in talks with AC Milan over a transfer for Robinho. (REPORT)

After winning the club’s first title in 10 years, Maccabi Tel Aviv manager Oscar Garcia has left the club after just one season due to personal reasons. (REPORT)

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What do you make of these reports? Do you think the time is right for Neymar to go to Europe? Do you see Lewandowski succeeding at Bayern? Do you feel Carroll can live up to the lofty expectations regardless of where he plays?

Share your thoughts below.

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