With Neymar on the verge of joining Paris Saint-Germain for a world record fee, Barcelona will have £198 million (about $261 million) to spend to replace him.
The Brazilian forward reportedly landed in Porto on Thursday for a medical ahead of his dramatic transfer to the French capital. Ernesto Valverde, the new Barcelona coach, will now need to replace Neymar, who was part of a front three with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez which scored a combined 111 goals last season.
Europe’s biggest clubs will fear losing their best players with the financial might of Barcelona and the attraction of Catalonia. Here, Newsweek looks at the potential replacements for Neymar at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona poster outside Camp Nou Stadium, Barcelona, August 2. JOSEP LAGO/AFP/GettyPhilippe Coutinho
A Brazilian playmaker for a Brazilian playmaker, Barcelona’s pursuit of Coutinho has been ongoing since long before Neymar’s apparent departure from Catalonia. Jurgen Klopp has insisted that Coutinho is not for sale, but the 25-year-old is reportedly interested in the transfer. Last season, Coutinho scored 14 goals in 36 appearances for Liverpool and has proved to be the star player in Klopp’s team.Kylian Mbappe
Barcelona’s La Liga rival Real Madrid was meant to be the team leading the race for Monaco’s Mbappe, but now Valverde’s team has been linked to the 18-year-old. Mbappe is likely to cost around £161 million, a sum that Barcelona would be able to easily pay after the Neymar sale. As well as Real, Mbappe is also wanted by Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.
Related: Chelsea, Liverpool Fear Losing Star Player, Manchester City Close to World Record SigningEden Hazard
Chelsea had endured the efforts of Real Madrid to buy Eden Hazard over the last year, but now Barcelona could be in for the Belgian forward. Hazard has proven his ability, with the 26-year-old being compared to Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barca’s Lionel Messi. Antonio Conte’s Chelsea has managed to hold onto Hazard, who was named PFA Player of the Year in 2015 and was a key figure in the title-winning team last season.Antoine Griezmann
The cold conditions of Manchester in England was said to be behind Antoine Griezmann’s decision not to join Jose Mourinho at Manchester United this summer. The French forward instead decided to remain at Atletico Madrid, but a possible move to Catalonia could be attractive for Griezmann—where the sun, of course, will be shining.Paulo Dybala
The Argentinian 23-year-old shone on the European stage during the last campaign, helping take Juventus to the final of the Champions League against Real Madrid. The match ended in defeat for Dybala and Juventus, but the Italian team knocked Barcelona out on the way to the final and Dybala showed his qualities to his potential suitors. Dybala scored twice in Turin against Barcelona, and his style would fit in with Valverde’s front three.
Fifty years ago, the Super Bowl was created as a championship game between the National Football League (NFL) and the American Football League (AFL), until the two leagues mereged in 1970. That first AFL-NFL championship was between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Back Packers, who battled for the title in the Los Angeles Coliseum on January 15, 1967.
Ahead of that pioneering game, Newsweek got the scoop on the two contenders from the insiders—former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith, and former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jack Kemp. Kemp pulled for Kansas, while Meredith said Green Bay was favored to win by a touchdown. The Packers won huge, 35-10.
Here's a look back at those interviews, as the Atlanta Falcons prepare to take on Super Bowl veterans New Englad Patriots in the country's 51st Super Bowl on Sunday, February 5.
The Los Angeles Coliseum will be packed, and 50 million fans will be at TV sets for the Jan. 15 kickoff between the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers. Below, the contenders in this first AFL-NFL Playoff are analyzed by two quarterbacks who know them best. Don Meredith starred for Dallas when it dropped the NFL title to Green Bay while Jack Kemp's Buffalo Bills lost out to Kansas City in the AFL. Their perceptive scouting reports on the teams that beat them:MEREDITH: PACKERS
OFFENSE: I have studied Bart Starr for several years and he is the most consistent quarterback I have ever seen. He is almost mechanical. He is alert, has a darn good football mind and is almost flawless in his execution. Some say he can't hit the bomb, but I don't necessarily agree. If you don't have to throw the long ball, there's no reason to do it. It's against the percentages. Personally, I'm very happy to see Bart get the credit he has this year. Nobody des
DEFENSE: I think Green Bay's defense may be too tough for Kansas City, since KC isn't familiar with it. Dallas moved well against the Packers because we had played them and had gone over their films many times. Green Bay's entire linebacker play has been a real key. They don't blitz muchmaybe 5 to 7 per cent of the time. But with Dave Robinson, Lee Roy Caffey and middle linebacker Ray Nitschke, they have a set of men who are not only quicker and more agile than most linemen but also as large. itschke has the duty to recognize plays and more or less direct who keys on whom. The whole Green Bay defense is based on this recognition. The front four ( ends Willie Davis and Ron Kostelnik, tackles Henry Jordan and Lionel Aldridge) ranked third in the NFL in stopping the passer. This is a real credit because they get little help from the blitz. It's primarily achieved on individual effort. Jordan is allowed to use his own discretion. His power is almost unreal. Davis is a great pass rusher. I don't agree with those who say he's not strong. But Aldridge has more head-on strength. Sounds as i£ I'm picking an allpro team. Well, that's almost what these guys are. The same goes for the secondary. I say you should favor them by a TD.KEMP: CHIEFS
OFFENSE: When you talk about KC's offense, you have to talk talent even before you get into formations and tactics. Len Dawson Otis Tavlor Mike Garrett, and others. Starting with Dawson, whom I have known since we were both rookie quarterbacks with Pittsburgh in 1957, you have to say that one of the reasons he's been able to perform so well is that he's with such a fine team. The Chiefs' receivers are as good a group as there is in pro football. Flanker Otis Taylor, their key man, has made astonishing progress and has made them a much different team. I imagine Green Bay will give him double coverage as it did Bobby Hayes of Dallas. Split end Chris Burford is very good on short- and middle-distance patterns and tight end Fred Arbanas is an excellent blocker who can also beat you long. KC may not have the fundamental pass protection of some teams, but its blockers protect Dawson with a "moving pocket" that conb'ibuted to its victory over our Bills as much as anything. Instead of two or three seconds, Dawson gets four to six. Fullback Curtis McClinton can block and receive. Running back Garrett gives KC outside speed. If he gets the ball long enough, often enough, sooner or later he's going to break away for you.
DEFENSE: I would like to see the Chiefs go after quarterback Bart Starr. If you don't pressure him, he'll have time to explore every weakness. When Dallas blitzed him, they got to him. And NFL blitzes are not as sophisticated as those in the AFL. KC usually blitzes its outside linebackers, E.J. Holub and Bobby Bell. Sherrill Headrick, the middle linebacker, is one of the best in football; his pass coverage is underrated. But KC's real strength is in its safeties-Johnny Robinson and Bobby Hunt. They allow the cornerbacks to play strongly because they give so much inside help. PhysicalJy the front four linemen are immense. They average 6 foot 6 and they always seem to have their hands up, obscuring your vision. They're all quick, especially tackle Jerry Mays. Their "Kansas City stack" defense is a big favorite. In this one they use four linemen but shift big 280-pound tackle Buck Buchanan over the center and Mays moves over to play opposite the tight end. The three linebackers are then stacked behind Mays, Buchanan and end Chuck Hurston. In LA, I think the Packers will see a variety of defenses such as they've never seen before. I feel KC can win, if they play close lo the caliber of football they played against us.
Harmful fumes produced largely by diesel vehicles can be as damaging for people’s well-being as the death of a partner, according to a study.
The study, entitled “Can Clean Air Make You Happy?” and first published in March, found that nitrogen dioxide could have a “substantive” impact on life satisfaction and human well-being.
Nitrogen dioxide occurs naturally through environmental processes including lightning, but the vast majority is produced by the combustion of fossil fuels. Diesel vehicles produce far greater quantities of nitrogen dioxide than non-diesel modes of transport.
The study, carried out by researchers at the University of York in northern England, measured the impact of nitrogen dioxide levels on subjective life satisfaction. The researchers used well-being data from the British Household Panel Survey and the U.K. Household Longitudinal Survey and compared it against air pollution levels as measured by the British government.
The researchers said it was the first study to analyze the relationship between nitrogen dioxide levels and life satisfaction, taking in account other factors such as socioeconomic status that could otherwise sway the findings. Respondents were asked to rate their life satisfaction on a scale from “completely unsatisfied” to “completely satisfied.”
Around 3 million premature deaths were caused around the world in 2012 by ambient air pollution—which includes nitrogen oxides, the group of gases to which nitrogen dioxide belongs—according to the World Health Organization. The U.K. has one of the highest rates of death due to nitrogen dioxide pollution in Europe.
The study found a “significant and negative association” between average nitrogen dioxide levels and life satisfaction, and said the impact was “comparable to many ‘big-hitting’ life events.” For example, the researchers determined that the negative effect on well-being of high nitrogen dioxide levels was roughly equivalent to half the impact caused by an employed person losing their job. Furthermore, the impact of the gas was comparable to a person losing their marital partner through separation or widowhood.
“Given that the effect of [nitrogen dioxide] is, to some extent, experienced by everyone (i.e. not everyone is unemployed but everyone is subject to a certain level of [nitrogen dioxide] exposure), this suggests that the welfare gains to society from reductions in exposure can be substantive,” said the study.
Read more: Air pollution causes 7 million deaths per year
The highest nitrogen dioxide levels in the U.K. occur in London, with the lowest being recorded in southwest England. With 11,490 premature deaths related to nitrogen dioxide levels in 2013, the U.K. is second only to Italy in feeling the impact of the gas, according to a 2016 report by the European Environment Agency. The report also found that London’s Marylebone Road had the highest levels of the gas in Europe.
The vast majority of modern diesel cars emit way more nitrogen oxides than is permitted by official limits, according to a 2016 dataset published by Emissions Analytics. A January report by the International Council for Clean Transportation found that diesel cars emit 10 times more nitrogen oxides per liter of fuel than diesel heavy-duty trucks and buses, which are subjected to far more stringent testing than smaller vehicles.
Nitrogen oxides were at the center of the Volkswagen emissions scandal in 2015, when the German manufacturer was found to have cheated emissions testers by equipping its vehicles with software that enabled them to emit less toxic fumes when being tested than in real-life conditions. But campaigners say that not enough has been done to combat car emissions cheating since the scandal, and the European Commission began legal action against the U.K. and six other European Union states in December 2016 for failing to tackle the problem.
The gases are damaging to the respiratory system and can lead to the development of conditions, such as asthma, after prolonged exposure.
Poland’s right-wing government doesn’t want white supremacist Richard Spencer to visit the Eastern European country, calling him a "threat" to democracy.
Spencer was scheduled to speak at a conference organized by Poland’s far right to celebrate Polish Independence Day on November 11, but the country's Foreign Ministry condemned the alt-right leader, whose condemnation of diversity has found support among neo-Nazis, whose ideological predecessors invaded Poland and killed millions during World War II.
“As a country which was one of the biggest victims of Nazism, we believe that the ideas promoted by Mr. Spencer and his followers could pose a threat to all those who hold dear the values of human rights and democracy,” the Polish Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that Spencer’s views are in conflict with Poland’s “legal order.”
But Spencer’s alt-right movement, which includes members of the Klu Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists, will likely find an audience in Poland, where studies show anti-Semitism and xenophobia are on the rise, and the government has barred refugees.
It is unclear if Spencer will be banned from the country altogether, and some analysts say the government’s statements may be an attempt to avoid further criticism.
“If they do draw a line, that has less to do with a principled foreign policy choice than feeling this would have a very negative impact when it comes to publicity,” said Zselyke Csaky, a senior researcher at Freedom House who focuses on Central Europe.
Jews in Poland and the United States also pressured the Polish government to prevent Spencer from speaking at the event.
“Spencer’s views strike not only the Jewish community or other minority groups. The hatred that Spencer and his followers proclaim is a threat to all who are close to the values of human rights and democracy,” Agnieszka Markiewicz, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Central European office, wrote to Polish authorities.
Poland’s government seems to have a conflicted view of American nationalism. In July, the country not only welcome President Trump but even bussed in supporters of Poland’s right-wing-ruling Law and Justice Party to cheer him at a rally, where Trump claimed that white Western civilization was at risk of decline.
“Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?” President Trump asked the Polish spectators.
With the U.S. reeling after a gunman slaughtered at least 58 people at a Las Vegas concert, a Texas Democrat says he’s shelving his attempt to impeach President Donald Trump—for now.
U.S. Representative Al Green, who had vowed to file a resolution to force the matter of impeachment to the House floor as soon as this week, said Monday he’ll hold off on trying to oust the commander in chief while “the nation is in mourning” for the victims of Sunday's rampage.
“Many hearts are bleeding.... There is much suffering. Lives have been lost in a senseless, needless manner in Las Vegas,” Green said in the House chamber as Nevada sent out pleas for blood donations and crisis counselors after the mass shooting that also left more than 500 people wounded.
Last week, Green excoriated Trump for his sharp responses to athletes who choose to “take a knee” during pregame performances of the National Anthem as a silent protest against police brutality.
The Lone Star State lawmaker said Trump “brought discourse to a new low” and exhibited “a level of indecency” unbecoming to the presidency when he asked an Alabama rally crowd, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now’? ‘Out, he’s fired. He’s fired.’”
On Monday, as Trump delivered a message of unity and condolence to the nation and prepared to visit Nevada in person, Green—whose impeachment push had next to no chance of success in a Republican-controlled Congress—said he would stand down.
“There is a right time for all things. This is a time for our nation to mourn and for hearts to heal,” said Green, who once likened himself to civil rights icon Rosa Parks for championing the cause of ending Trump’s presidency.
“Mr. Speaker, I announce that impeachment is postponed.”
As of Monday, Green’s pinned tweet remained his May announcement: “Today on the floor of the Congress of the United States of America, I will call for the Impeachment of the President between 9 am & 10 am CST.”
Max, Rowan and Charlie Vertin’s muscles have been slowly collecting damage since the day they were born. Someday, they will not be able to walk. They will not be able to stand. Eventually, they will not be able to live. The brothers, ages 6 through 11, suffer from a debilitating and deadly genetic condition called Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
Yet on September 28, Max, Rowan and Charlie Vertin got dressed up. In dark suits and blue shirts, with serious expressions on their round faces, they walked to stand next to their mother in a very beige room outside Washington, D.C. The people in that room, they believed, could change the course of their lives.
For years, the Vertin brothers have been participating in a clinical trial for a new medication called ataluren, intended to keep the progression of their disease at bay. By October 24, they’ll know if they will be able to keep taking that drug. That is the deadline for the Food and Drug Administration to make a choice. The agency could approve the drug, allowing the brothers and others like them to continue to take it. Or it could reject the drug for the third time and throw them into an uncertain future.
An FDA committee has already voted that data about the drug’s effectiveness was inconclusive. The agency’s final decision almost always echos the decisions of its committees. So, if this were any other kind of drug at any other time in FDA history, the FDA’s final answer would be a very predictable no.
If they do say no, the Vertins could lose access to the drug that has stabilized their condition. But there’s still a chance the FDA could approve the drug. Input from people affected by DMD may have convinced the agency once before to approve a drug for the condition despite iffy data. That is what the Vertins—and the company that produces the drug—are hoping will happen again.
The Vertins were among over a dozen families to testify at an FDA committee meeting on September 28 to evaluate if ataluren, a new treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, should be approved. Courtesy of Betty Vertin
“It started out so innocent,” his mother, Betty Vertin, told Newsweek. Max was a big infant, born 10 lbs, 3 oz and nearly two feet long. “When he was missing milestones, I just thought it was because it was a big baby.” Even doctors assumed that he would eventually catch up. But when he started preschool, the difference between Max and other children became more obvious. “When other kids were running and jumping and climbing, Max wasn’t doing those things. He was just behind, physically.”
When Max was 4, in 2010, a genetic test confirmed that he had DMD. Betty had never heard of it. “Before we started living this life, I was clueless,” she said.
DMD is one of a class of similar genetic disorders. About 15 boys out of every 100,000 in the United States under 24 years old have DMD or a milder form, called Becker muscular dystrophy. (Most of the children affected are boys.) The illness affects the way their legs, heart, and lungs work.
Max’s diagnosis was devastating for Betty. “I feel like I walked into the room with a healthy four-year-old boy and I walked out with a child that was dying,” she said.
But the family’s struggles with DMD were just beginning. At the time, Rowan was 2, and Betty suspected that he also had the disease; she’d seen how her son struggled to stand up onto a stepstool in the bathroom to brush his teeth. She was also ten weeks pregnant with Charlie.
Genetic tests eventually confirmed both Rowan and Charlie also had DMD. Betty’s two daughters, Lexi, 16, and Mary, 2, as well as a fourth son, Chance, 10, do not.
“I felt like we had a year and a half of the same horrible diagnosis over and over and over again,” she said. “It was the hardest 18 months I’ve ever had and I hope I ever had.”
For years, Betty Vertin has been travelling from her home in Nebraska to Kansas City for her sons' medications, seen here. Courtesy of Betty Vertin via Facebook
DMD always results in muscle weakness due to a lack of a protein called dystrophin. Some of the newest treatments for the condition try to fix that. One drug, which the FDA approved in 2016, works for people whose illness springs from a mutation in the gene that codes for dystrophin.
The drug, called Exondys 51 or eteplirsen, allows the genetic machinery that produces the protein to skip over the mutated part to make something that will work better. About 13 percent of people with DMD have this particular mutation, according to the FDA.
The Vertin brothers are not among them; the drug shouldn’t help them at all. So they tried ataluren. (The drug’s brand name is Translarna.) The company that produces ataluren, PTC Therapeutics, says that its drug forces cells to make the proteins in spite of a different kind of mutation called a nonsense mutation. Instead of having an error in the protein, the protein is accidentally cut short. This is the kind of mutation that three of Betty Vertin’s children have.
The Vertins have received the drug free through the clinical trial, and expenses for their trip from Nebraska to Washington, D.C. were paid by PTC Therapeutics.
Ataluren works by ordering a cell to use a slightly different piece to build the protein—as if someone spray-painted the word “don’t” on the molecular version of a stop sign. Exactly how it does that is still mysterious. A paper published by the company’s scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science said it probably affected the ribosome, a key part of how proteins are put together in a cell. (Researchers not affiliated with the company did not find the same kind of activity.)
Regardless of what mutation causes the illness, most people with DMD die in their 20s. Betty was told to expect her oldest son, Max, to be in a wheelchair full-time by the time he was 9 or 12.
Max is 11 now. His 12th birthday is in early November. He uses an electric mobility scooter for long distances, but he can still walk. He rides a bike without training wheels and without any modifications. He has a part in a school play and goes up and down stairs to get to the stage. He even plays a trumpet in his school’s band. “He’s got the lung capacity to blow that thing, very loudly,” Betty said.
For that, Betty credits ataluren, which Max started three years ago.
“His life is—it’s not like his peers, but he’s getting a lot of the experiences that his peers are having,” she said. “He’s living a sort of a typical sixth-grade life and that diagnosis—I didn’t know what it would look like for him. I didn’t expect it to look like this.”
The Vertin siblings affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy swing. Charlie, left, is the youngest. Rowan, center, is most severely affected. Max, right, was the first to be diagnosed. Courtesy of Betty Vertin
But not everyone considers ataluren to be a miracle drug—with good reason. The clinical trial results haven't been great. Most of the company’s studies tested how fast a child could go about 30 feet or walk up and down stairs, or how far they could walk in six minutes. They did see some slight positive results, many of which came from a study done with the specific kind of patient the company discovered benefited most in a previous trial.
The FDA needs good data to make their decision, because when the agency approves a drug is sends a signal to the world. An approval is the FDA saying, “this drug is safe and effective. You could use it for your child, too.”
PTC Therapeutics has tried to get FDA approval for the drug twice before. Both times the agency refused to even consider the application. This time, the application for approval was filed over the FDA’s protest. (The drug has been conditionally approved in Europe.)
A Million Dollar Issue
Part of the reason that the drug has struggled is because of this requirement: if the drug is effective, the data should show it. But that hasn't happened consistently with ataluren. Many of the clinical trials failed to satisfy the statistical requirement to prove a drug works—at least not for the main outcome the company was looking at. Other, secondary measurements did seem to have good statistics. Certain groups of children seemed to have better results than others, too.
PTC Therapeutics founder and CEO Stuart Peltz says the statistics aren't a reason to reject the drug. Just because a drug doesn’t measure up in that way, he says, “doesn’t mean the drug is not effective.”
But even if the FDA agrees to overlook some of the negative data about ataluren, insurers may not. That could be a million-dollar issue for the families with affected children.
“If the evidence isn’t good, then insurance companies won’t pay for [drugs],” said National Center for Health Research (NCHR) president Diana Zuckerman. Two recently approved drugs have run into this problem: Spinraza, a drug for spinal muscular atrophy, and Exondys 51. Both drugs cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Pharmaceutical companies traditionally will not discuss prices before drugs are approved; that said, ataluren costs about £220,000 in Britain. During clinical trials, participants like the Vertins normally do not pay for the treatment.
The NCHR also presented at the FDA meeting in September to discuss ataluren, urging the agency to not approve the drug without more research. The organization’s statement also raised concerns about side effects associated with the drug, specifically about the chance that it raises blood pressure and cholesterol levels in children. The company says these shifts are small and "not clinically significant."
In an e-mailed statement, FDA spokesperson Sandy Walsh confirmed that the FDA’s decisions are all “based on an assessment of the available data and whether the benefits of the drug outweigh its risks.” That data can include the experience of patients like Max, Rowan and Charlie.
Max Vertin does need to use an electric scooter to travel longer distances, his mother said. However, she was told that at his age, he would need to be in a wheelchair by now. Courtesy of Betty Vertin via Facebook
To Betty, the benefits are clear, even if they aren’t easily quantified. Rowan’s gait seems better. Max still doesn’t need to use a wheelchair all the time, bucking the prediction she heard when he was first diagnosed.
However, financial analysts who track the biotech sector are not optimistic about ataluren’s immediate prospects. Matthew Eckler, a senior biotechnology analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said that analysts and investors are betting the FDA will not approve the drug.
The FDA hasn’t said no yet. The agency still has nearly two more weeks to make a decision. Until then, Betty and her sons are living with a lot of uncertainty. “I’m really scared that my boys will have to go off [ataluren],” she said. Will they have access to the drug if it’s rejected? Would their conditions deteriorate if they didn’t? What other options do they have?
Betty has no good answers. She is hoping she won’t need to come up with them.
“DMD is a progressive disease, and my boys are stable,” Vertin said. “If we can just have a few more years with our boys or buy some time until there is a cure out there, that’s huge.”