Neymar Signs with Puma for Long-Term Partnership

Neymar is reppin’ a new brand…

Puma has announced the signing of the 28-year-old Brazilian soccer star after the Paris Saint-Germain player left Nike following a 15-year association.

Neymar’s arrival was announced on the Puma website alongside the banner “The king is back” and “Welcome to the family Neymar JR.”

Neymar wrote in a statement on his Twitter page: “At the beginning of each new season, I take some time to think about my career and the choices I have made. I think about the dreams I had when I started this sport, and the path that lies ahead.

“This will be a different season, a special season. For that reason, as I have done in the past, I decided to write this text.

“I am about to live a unique experience, a new challenge. I consider myself privileged to have had a life filled with unique experiences and wonderful challenges.

“I grew up watching videos of great football legends such as Pele, Cruyff, Matthaus, Eusebio and Maradona … These were the kings of the pitch, the kings of my sport. And they had something in common — a love of the game, a drive to be the best version of themselves and a spirit that unites all. It’s not always about being the best or the greatest but instead, to inspire future generations. That is exactly what I have dreamt of for myself, to give all of me to football because football has given me everything I have. I want to do it my way, using my gift.

“New challenges, new responsibilities, I understand that. I wish to bring back the legacy that those athletes created on the pitch. I was to help bring back memories from each of their football histories and the magic they gave us in their classic leather boots — and through boots like those, leave behind my own legacy. They each played in PUMA, and each of them created their magic in The KING.

“And so now, as I begin this new season, I want the KING to reign on the pitch and inspire generations as it has inspired me and others.

“To be in this project, associating myself to those Kings of football, through KING, it is a dream. For these reasons, from today onward, I have the honour to unite with the brand that helped the biggest legends of football become what they are. Every time I lace my boots, my KING boots, I will do anything to achieve all of my dreams to honour my name and that of all those great ones who wore the KING before me. This will be my PUMA history. The KING is back!”

Sources told ESPN that only four executives knew about the deal to land Neymar and it was “a big secret in the company” that they had been working to sign the player for several months.

He returned to training with PSG on Friday after missing their opening Ligue 1 fixture of the campaign, a 1-0 defeat at Lens, following a positive test for the coronavirus.

Neymar joined PSG from Barcelona in 2017 for a world-record €222 million fee and has won three Ligue 1 titles in Paris. He also helped the French club reach the Champions League final in August, where they were beaten 1-0 by Bayern Munich.

During his time at Barca he won the Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup and two La Liga titles.

Diego Maradona ThisClose to Returning to Management with Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata

Diego Maradonamay be heading back to the world of soccer…

The 58-year-old Argentine legend, the focus of an acclaimed documentary, is closing in on a return to management at Argentine first division club Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata.

Diego Maradona

Maradona met with the club this week and the deal is “80 percent” agreed, Maradona’s lawyer Matias Morlatells ESPN FC, with a definitive meeting set to take place on Thursday.

Maradona had admitted on Tuesday that he’d like to coach in his homeland, but on Wednesday denied that a deal had been signed with Gimnasia, or that he’d met with anyone at the club.

“I don’t think that toying with the hopes of the fans is ok,” wrote Maradona. “I still haven’t met with anyone.”

But Morla posted a video later on Wednesday of Maradona talking directly to Gimnasia fans: “I want to make clear that I’ve very recently undergone an operation. I did have contact with people from Gimnasia, but I’ve not spoken to anyone recently

“For them to have considered me … due to my achievements far away or because they are Maradona fans is a very beautiful thing, really touching and it fills my heart.”

Maradona then made a point of getting up and walking around to prove he is fit, after a right knee operation in late July.

“They say that I can’t move. Look! Look!” stressed Maradona in the video. “Am I ready to coach or not? All of you Lobo [Gimnasia] fans, I hold you here [points to heart].”

Maradona joined Mexican second division club Dorados de Sinaloaone year ago and led the team to consecutive Ascenso MXfinals in his two seasons, losing both to newly promoted Atletico San Luis— owned by Atletico Madrid— after extra time in the second leg.

But Maradona left in mid-June in order to undergo a knee operation, following indications he was happy in Mexico and wanted to continue, with Dorados also content with how things had gone.

Gimnasia is dead last in the Argentine league after five rounds of matches in the new season, having lost its last four games.

Maradona had invited his Argentina teammate Gabriel Batistutato be part of the coaching staff at Gimnasia and take training sessions, but the former striker declined the invitation due to a scheduled operation on Sept. 17 in Switzerland.

“I want to thank Diego Maradona for the offer I’d been waiting for for so long,” wrote Batistuta on Twitter. “I wish him all the best!”

Altitude Releases Trailer for Diego Maradona-Themed Documentary

Diego Maradonais kickin’ it old school… so to speak.

Altitude has released the first footage from its Cannes Film Festival-bound documentary Diego Maradona, which centers on the 58-year-old Argentine retired professional footballer and current manager of Mexican second division club Dorados.

Diego Maradona

Directed by Asif Kapadia, the documentary was constructed from more than 500 hours of rare footage. It centers on the career of the celebrated soccer star during his time at Italian club Napoli in the 1980s.

The film will chart the iconic sporting story of how the genius soccer star arrived at the ailing Italian side Napoli and turned them into a force, winning their first ever national championship. 

The glory also came with a price, however, as Maradona became almost a prisoner in the city. His inner demons were never far away.

The film will play Out Of Competition and Maradona will attend the Cannes Film Festival. 

The film will roll out in cinemas from this summer.

Nicolas Goldschmidt to Star as Diego Maradona in Amazon Prime Video’s Biopic Series “Maradona: Blessed Dream”

Nicolas Goldschmidt is headed to the football pitch..

The 31-year-old Argentine actor has been cast as the legendary and notorious soccer star Diego Maradona in Maradona: Blessed Dream, an Amazon Prime Video biopic series being produced by RAZE, Dhana Media and BTF.

Nicolas Goldschmidt 

Nicolas Goldschmidt will star alongside Nazareno Casero and Juan Palomino in the series, which follows Maradona’s life from infancy to his present life and his journey playing for Barcelona, Napoli, Boca and leading his national team as captain for Argentina.

The actors will each play a different stage in Maradona’s life. Goldschmidt will play Maradona during his early years, Casero will play him during his rise to fame with club teams like Barcelona and Napoli, and Argentina’s national team, and Palomino will take him on in the darker times.

The first season will begin filming in Argentina, followed by Uruguay, Spain, Italy and Mexico.

RAZE is the production company launched by Sofia VergaraLuis Balaguer and Emiliano Calemzuk to create Latin-centered content.

The series will be available in more than 200 territories on Amazon Prime Video, and later distributed on linear platforms through Disney Distribution.

Goldschmidt previously appeared in the Farsantes and Mis amigos de siempre. Casero starred in the film Estamos Juntos. Palomino has starred in Sálvame María.

Messi Returning to Play for Argentina’s National Team In Time for World Cup Qualifiers

It’s a welcome change of heart for Lionel Messi

The 29-year-old has announced his return to Argentina’s national team for their World Cup qualifiers in September, ending his short-lived retirement from international football.

Lionel Messi

Messi called it quits after missing a penalty in the shootout defeat to Chile in this summer’s Copa America Centenario final — the third consecutive loss for Argentina in a major final.

“I see that there are a lot of problems in Argentina football and I don’t want to create more,” Messi, who was included in the Albiceleste‘s 18-man squad to face Uruguay and Venezuela, said in a statement on Friday. “I don’t want to cause harm, on the contrary, my goal was to help in any way I could.”

Messi, who is Argentina’s all-time leading scorer with 55 goals in 113 appearances, made reference to federation problems a few days before the Copa final, saying the AFA, Argentine football’s governing body, was “a disaster” after the team suffered delayed flights and experienced problems finding opponents for training games.

“There are many things that need to be fixed in Argentine football. But I prefer to help from inside rather than stand on the outside and criticize,” the statement continued.

“A lot of things ran through my head on the day of the [Copa America] final. And I seriously considered leaving the team. But I love my shirt and my country too much.

“I want to thank all the fans who wanted me to keep playing for Argentina. I hope we can give them joy very soon.”

With the CONMEBOL deadline to name the squads for September’s World Cup qualifiers looming on Friday, newly-appointed Argentina manager Edgardo Bauza had expressed confidence Messi would change his mind and opt to return to the team, and that belief was rewarded with Messi’s confirmation later in the day.

Bauza, who took over as national team coach after the resignation of Gerardo Martino last month, had flown to Spain to meet Argentina players in Barcelona on Thursday and reassure them there would be order in the national team despite ongoing chaos in the football federation.

He said he didn’t pressure Messi to reconsider his decision to retire from international duty and had “only talked football” with the striker, but claimed Messi wanted to return.

“There is no doubt in my mind that he wants to return to play for the national team,” Bauza told reporters in Argentina. “I saw him with a great desire to return.”

Argentina are preparing for September qualifiers against Uruguay and Venezuela after crashing out in the group stage of the Olympics for the first time since 1964.

The federation, which had been led by Julio Grondona since the 1970s, has been in turmoil since his death in 2014.

In June, FIFA stepped in and named a committee to run its daily affairs, with a stipulation that elections must be held by July 2017.

Argentina legend Diego Maradona claimed the chaos within the federation was institutional and that Messi had been right to comment on it.

Telefe to Produce Television Project About Soccer Legend Diego Maradona

The story of Diego Maradona’s life is headed to the small screen…

Telefe, Argentina’s leading television network, will bring to the screen the life of the 55-year-old soccer legend in an ambitious production aimed at the global market.

Diego Maradona

One of Argentina’s greatest living heroes, Maradona’s life is the stuff of legend and melodrama. From rags to riches, he suffered the pressures of fame. His career could have been far more successful if it had not been for a brutal Italian defense in the 1982 World Cup and, in latter years, a battle against drug-dependency.

Maradona captained the Argentine soccer team that won the 1986 World Cup in Mexico and was a finalist in Italy four years later. He helped top clubs such as Boca Juniors in Argentina, Barcelona in Spain and Naples in Italy to national championships, scored mesmerizing goals, and pulled off sleights of hand on the field – his so-called Mano de Dios goal against England – which are among the top highlights of the most popular sport in the world.

Diego Maradona

Drug use sparked suspensions, the most crucial at the 1994 World Cup. In 2000, a cocaine overdose reportedly nearly killed him, prompting him to enter rehab in Cuba.

“Every month of my life has enough for someone to write 100 chapters. Everything that I lived exceeds any fiction. I’m happy and excited that Telefe is developing this project for the world. It is the story of my life,” Maradona said in a statement.

“This is an incredible challenge as a producer to think about turning into fiction the life of the best soccer player of all time, and probably the most famous person in the world,” said Telefe contents and international business director Tomas Yankelevich.

“We think of a unprecedented super-production, and for that we are looking for partners to join us. We expect to make a global content without borders,” he added.

Telefe’s Yankelevich and Maradona recently inked their production alliance. Large questions remain to be answered such as if the fiction which Telefe describes will have a conventional feature structure or also incorporate some form of longer television format.

Another question about the Maradona project is what active involvement the soccer star will have in the project. Maradona was one of the first modern soccer stars to have his failings exposed to the mass media. The question many will be asking is what kind of man lies behind an unquestioned and colorful soccer genius.

Messi Scores Two Goals Against Nigeria to Tie Neymar at the World Cup

World Cup 2014

Lionel Messi is proving his critics wrong at this year’s FIFA World Cup

The 37-year-old Argentine soccer star – his country’s team captain – has lit up the World Cup stage with four goals in his first three games, matching Brazil’s Neymar, his fellow teammate at FC Barcelona, for the most goals so far.

Lionel Messi vs. Nigeria

Messi, who has had to contend with critics who say he never delivers when playing in an Argentina jersey, has now scored more times in this tournament than his previous two World Cups combined.

Messi’s wwo goals against Nigeria in Wednesday’s 3-2 victory helped Argentina secure the top spot in Group F and move the team into the Round of 16.

“Messi is one heck of a player,” Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi told reporters. “You can’t take that away from him. He’s blessed. I think there are other players in the Argentina squad who are very strong, but Messi is from Jupiter.”

Messi left Argentina for Spain at the age of 13 — a move which led many in his homeland to question whether he had taken on a Catalan identity by the time he grew into one of the world’s greats.

That myth will surely be extinguished should Messi lead his country to its first World Cup triumph since 1986 — and the signs are increasingly encouraging.

He has now scored 42 goals in 88 international appearances while playing with an energy which suggests he may have been saving his best for last following a relatively poor season at Barcelona, which was interrupted by injury.

His last-gasp goal which secured a 1-0 win over a valiant Iran was a moment of magic which will long be remembered.

That goal, which came just moments after Diego Maradona — arguably Argentina’s greatest ever player — had left the stadium, appeared to signal his arrival as the nation’s new hero.

Messi, who turned 27 on Tuesday, said the perfect birthday gift would be the World Cup title — and given his recent performances, it looks like that’s quite possible.

Agüero Leads Manchester City to English Premier League Title

Call it “The Miracle in Manchester” as Sergio Agüero helps propel Manchester City to its first English Premier League title in nearly 45 years.

In one of the most exciting game endings in soccer history, the 23-year-old Argentine soccer star on Sunday scored late in stoppage time to lead his team to victory over the Queens Park Rangers.

Sergio Aguero

With Manchester United beating Sunderland 1-0, Manchester City needed a win over Queens Park to win the team’s first title since 1968.

Manchester City trailed the Rangers 2-1 after 90 minutes and needed two goals in stoppage time to win the title that had slipped from their grasp.

Edin Dzeko helped Manchester City even the game at 2-2 with a header off a corner kick in the 92nd minute. Then, in the 94th minute, Agüero and Mario Balotelli combined at the edge of the box. Agüero latched onto Balotelli’s ball, dribbled around a defender, and fired a shot to the left of Paddy Kenny that hit the back of the net.

Sergio Aguero

That remarkable goal by Agüero the son-in-law of the great Diego Maradona, completed a remarkable comeback to give Manchester City the title.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a finale like this,” City manager Roberto Mancini said. “We didn’t deserve to lose. We had a lot of chances and we deserved to win the game and championship. It’s fantastic for the club and the supporters after 44 years. It’s been a crazy season and a crazy last minute.”