Monday Kickoff: Dunga discusses Neymar's star status; Sturridge says Liverpool are better without Suarez; and more

Monday Kickoff: Dunga discusses Neymar's star status; Sturridge says Liverpool are better without Suarez; and more

International Soccer

Monday Kickoff: Dunga discusses Neymar's star status; Sturridge says Liverpool are better without Suarez; and more

NeymarBrazil3-CameroonWorldCup2014 (Getty)

By RYAN TOLMICH

Prior to suffering a tournament-ending back injury, Brazilian star Neymar had played his side into position to potentially win a World Cup on home soil. However, despite his best efforts, the young Brazilian has a long ways to go if he is to impress his new national team manager.

Brazil manager Dunga insists that Neymar is yet to reach the level of the game’s top stars, while also stating his intentions of helping the 22-year-old forward become one of the world’s best.

“He’s the best player in Brazil but no star, Dunga said. “To have star status, you have to have world champion credentials on your back, but we are going to work to make sure that, when he’s with the Selecao, Neymar performs above the level that defines a star.”

Dunga, who was a member of the Brazil team that won the 1994 World Cup,  was appointed as successor to Luiz Felipe Scolari in July.

Here are some more news and notes to kickoff your Monday morning:

STURRIDGE INSISTS LIVERPOOL ARE BETTER WITHOUT SUAREZ

With the loss of star striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona, Liverpool have chosen to focus on improving the team as a whole ahead of their first Champions League campaign since 2009-10. Despite not purchasing a true like-for-like replacement, Suarez’s in-house successor insists Liverpool can thrive without the Uruguayan.

Liverpool forward Daniel Sturridge, who scored 24 goals alongside Suarez’s 34 last season, believes his side has enough talent to not only cope with Suarez’s loss, but improve on last year’s performances.

“I think so, with the players we’ve brought in,” Sturridge said when asked if Liverpool can be better this season. “No disrespect – he’s a great player and will be missed – but we move on.”

The 24-year-old striker scored the winner in Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over Southampton Sunday.

ENRIQUE ‘HASN’T RULED OUT’ MORE BARCELONA SIGNINGS

With the additions of seven new players, including Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Thomas Vermaelen, Barcelona has conducted plenty of business throughout the Summer Transfer Window. However, new manager Luis Enrique is open to seeing even more new faces at the Camp Nou.

The Barcelona manager still feels the squad has room for improvement, going so far as to say that the team may not be done in the transfer market.

“I haven’t ruled out further signings,” Enrique said. “Neither has the club. Not now and not in the future. We’re always open to strengthening and improving the squad”.

Enrique’s biggest signing, Suarez, will be serving a suspension for the first few months of his Barcelona tenure. However, the Uruguayan is available for training and friendlies and Enrique expects to play Suarez in the club’s friendly against Club Leon.

“He looks like a world-class player,” Enrique said. “He knows what we’re all about and he is exactly what I expected. He’ll feature in the game. It’ll be good for the fans to see him”.

BA BELIEVES HE WAS BENCHED AT CHELSEA DUE TO LACK OF STAR STATUS

With the arrival of Diego Costa, former Chelsea striker Demba Ba saw the writing on the wall, and responded with a move to Turkish side Beskitas. The Senegalese striker, who scored five goals in 19 appearances last season, believes that his lack of opportunities at Chelsea were more-so due to his lack of star status than his production on the field.

“Sometimes when you are at a club with a lot of big stars, the name counts for more than the statistics,” Ba said. “Unfortunately, it was like that in my case. But I am happy I moved from Newcastle to Chelsea and achieved what I did.”

Despite his move to Turkey, Ba went on to say that he would continue rooting his former team.

“I have lots of friends there,” Ba said. “Eden Hazard is one of my best friends. I am close to Branislav Ivanovic, too. All my wishes are for them to win the league.”

Chelsea kickoff their Premier League Monday when they travel to Turf Moor to take on Burnley.

QUICK KICKS

Sevilla have announced the signing of midfielder Ever Banega from Valencia. (REPORT)

Sporting CP defender Marcos Rojo has apologized to the club for trying to force move to Manchester United. (REPORT)

Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola expects to go out and find a replacement for the injured Javi Martinez. (REPORT)

Do you think Neymar is a star? How will Liverpool cope without Suarez? Where do you think Barcelona could strengthen their team?

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