In the same week that PSG crashed out of the Champions League, and only seven months after he joined the club for a world record 222million euros ($264 million), Neymar’s future has become uncertain.
Spanish sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo claims the Brazilian, recovering from surgery on a broken foot in Brazil, has made contact with Barca to ask how he can engineer a return.
The article adds Neymar has explained he made a mistake in leaving the club, was wrong to want independence from Lionel Messi and has been disappointed by the standard of opposition in Ligue 1.
Barca, however, is not the only club Neymar is reportedly targeting as a potential way out of PSG.
Madrid-based newspaper AS reports Neymar´s father has met with Real Madrid, who are ready to pay 400million euros to sign the striker.
Asked about the speculation on Friday, Real coach Zinedine Zidane said: “Neymar could play in all the clubs because he is very good, like many players.
“I’m not going to talk about a player that is not mine. On the 400 million, they paid 220 million and when they bought me they paid 72.
“It seemed crazy to me and 10 years later they are paying 220 million. It can be that in the next 10 years someone will pay 400m, or sooner, I do not know.”
Mundo Deportivo concedes Neymar’s courting of Barcelona may even be a tactic to justify a move to Real, given the Catalan club are likely to reject any chance to re-sign the 26-year-old.
Barcelona are still embroiled in a financial dispute over a bonus due to Neymar last summer, which the club cancelled when they believe it became clear he was moving to PSG.
Neymar missed PSG’s last 16 loss to Real on Tuesday after undergoing surgery on a broken foot in Brazil last week.
Provided by AFP Sport
Barca take a 1-1 draw, and an away goal, to the Camp Nou on Wednesday but Chelsea controlled much of the first leg in London and will fancy their chances of an upset.
It means key players are likely to be rested and others given the opportunity to stake a claim, particularly in attack, where the third spot next to Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez is yet to be established.
Ousmane Dembele has endured a difficult debut season, plagued by problems with fitness and form, but the forward has shown signs of improvement and played in the Catalan Super Cup win over Espanyol on Wednesday.
“He tried to get involved in play and has worked on individual moves,” Valverde said.
“This is useful, little by little, we hope he translates it into La Liga games.”
Dembele is jostling for position with the creative Philippe Coutinho, preferred against Atletico, and Paulinho, who offers the most defensive resilience from the front.
Anything but a comfortable win at La Rosaleda Stadium would represent a major shock.
Malaga were, in fact, the last team to beat Barcelona in La Liga, with a 2-0 victory in April, but few players from that triumph are still at the club while the coach, Michel, was sacked in January. His replacement, Jose Gonzalez, has overseen six defeats in a row.
A 3-0 thrashing of Lokomotiv Moscow in the Europa League on Thursday has already recovered the winning feeling, with Atletico registering eight victories on the bounce before they were halted by Messi’s 25-yard free-kick.
After the win over Lokomotiv, Simeone was asked about taking charge at Paris Saint-Germain next season and he indicated his focus by replying: “Celta.”
Real Madrid, meanwhile, swap Paris Saint-Germain and the Parc des Princes for Eibar and the Ipurua Municipal Stadium, the smallest stadium in La Liga with a capacity of just over 7,000.
Zinedine Zidane‘s team will be flying high after overcoming the biggest assignment of their season in Paris and, like Barcelona, it may be that star players are given time off.
Gareth Bale is unlikely to be among those rested, however, after the Welshman missed out on the starting line-up against PSG. Bale’s reaction this weekend will be significant.
Los Rojiblancos sit fifth in the table, eight points behind Valencia, knowing anything but a win this weekend would all-but end their top-four hopes.
Barcelona are close to securing the services of Arthur, Gremio’s president has confirmed.
The Brazilian midfielder has been linked with the Catalan giants since a long time now, but the deal is apparently close to completion now.
After Gremio’s 1-0 win against Sao Paulo, president Romildo Bolzan said: “The topic is on its way to being finished. The documents are not signed yet, but the transfer is reaching the final phase.”
He added, “I think it will be over by tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Some things still depend on legal issues. It still requires some care.”
The transfer value could be around €40 million for Barcelona.
If the move happens, Arthur will join a high-quality Barcelona midfield that already includes fellow Brazilians Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho.