Neymar returns to Barcelona, maintains silence on €222m PSG move

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Brazilian superstar Neymar landed back in Barcelona on Tuesday evening, avoiding making any comment on the ongoing speculation about a possible world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

The 25-year-old Barcelona forward was travelling back from China and had earlier posted a video on social media apparently from Dubai airport, amid suggestions that he could have been bound for Paris.

He has remained silent while rumours swirl that he will join the French club, who are reportedly ready to pay the €222 million buyout clause in his contract at the Camp Nou.

Neymar, who was in Shanghai on Monday fulfilling a sponsor’s engagement, had also posted a photo on Instagram with the caption in Portuguese: “Lunch at half-way”.

In another video posted from an aeroplane, Neymar joked around with an image messaging app that superimposed a Spanish flag and a small plane on his tee-shirt, suggesting he was indeed headed home to Barcelona.

The decor in that video was identifiable as from an Emirates aeroplane.

Earlier reports claimed that he was headed from China to Doha to meet PSG’s Qatari owners and pass a medical before a world-record transfer.

But his being on an Emirates plane ruled out Doha as a possible destination given the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours.

And Neymar finally landed in Barcelona just before 2100 local time (1900 GMT), taking a backdoor exit to avoid the dozens of journalists and a few supporters – some wearing PSG shirts – who had been awaiting his arrival.

A video filmed by a passenger and broadcast on Catalan television channel TV3 shows Neymar in an area reserved for flight crew. He is wearing headphones and avoids responding to fans asking if he is staying with Barcelona.

“FCB (Barcelona) and Neymar’s entourage confirm that the player returns to Barcelona today. He will train tomorrow and continue with life as normal until everything is sorted out,” tweeted Marcelo Bechler, the Brazilian journalist who first broke news of an “agreement” between the player and PSG on July 18.

Barcelona, who lost 3-2 to Real Madrid in Miami on Saturday, the last match of a US tour, are due to train at 0930 on Wednesday.
“Neymar and the rest of the squad are due at training,” a club source told AFP.

Barcelona’s next match is on Monday in the annual Joan Gamper trophy, in which they will host Chapecoense, the Brazilian club whose team was decimated in an air disaster last November.

Ernesto Valverde’s side play their first official match on August 13 against Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.

NASTY SURPRISE

Neymar, though, has a nasty surprise awaiting him upon his return as Barcelona have blocked payment of a 26 million-euro bonus he is due, a source at the club said.

“These €26 million have been placed with a notary pending to see if the player continues,” the source, who refused to be named, told AFP.

The renewal bonus was agreed on a year ago when Neymar extended his contract with Barcelona until 2021, and was due to be paid to the player after he completed a year.

But the club has decided to put it on hold while waiting to see how his transfer situation evolves.

The contract Neymar signed also increased an early termination clause from €200 to €222 million, a sum which PSG are reportedly willing to pay.

Neymar first made his name at Santos, the former club of Brazil legend Pele, with whom he won the Copa Libertadores and Brazilian Cup.

A big-money move to Barca followed in 2013 as 56,000 fans turned up for his official unveiling at the Camp Nou.

In his four years with the Catalans he has won the Champions League in 2015, La Liga twice, the Spanish Cup three times and one FIFA Club World Cup.

Last year he also helped Brazil on home soil win the Olympic title for the first time.

Provided by AFP

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Barcelona block Neymar's multi-million bonus as PSG transfer rumours grow

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Neymar.

Barcelona have blocked payment of a €26 million ($31-million) bonus for star attacker Neymar as speculation mounts that he will move to Paris Saint-Germain, a source at the club said Tuesday.

The Brazilian football star, who is due to come back for training on Wednesday morning, is at the centre of an apparent tug of war between the two European giants in what would be the most expensive transfer fee in football history.

Speculation is mounting that the 25-year-old could quit Barcelona for PSG for a world-record €222 million.

“These €26 million have been placed with a notary pending to see if the player continues,” the source, who refused to be named, told AFP.

The renewal bonus was agreed on a year ago when Neymar extended his contract with Barcelona until 2021, and was due to be paid to the player after he completed a year.

But the club has decided to put it on hold pending to see how the situation evolves.

The contract Neymar signed also increased an early termination clause from €200-222 million, which PSG is reportedly willing to pay.

Neymar’s future is the talk of Spanish football, and particularly Barcelona supporters.

After a successful pre-season tour in the United States that saw Barcelona win against Juventus, Manchester United and Real Madrid, the footballer flew to China for a promotion trip.

But he studiously avoided commenting on the situation.

On Wednesday, Barcelona players resume training after their summer break, with a double session in the morning and in the afternoon.

Neymar has been called to the training, the club source said, although Spanish sports media doubt he will show up.

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Antoine Griezmann wanted by Barcelona, Liverpool to keep Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane

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Another day in football, another wave of transfer rumours to keep up on. Take a look at the most recent names and gossip being floated around in the media.

Will any of the following deals happen?

Let us know your thoughts by getting in touch via Twitter and Facebook.

ANTOINE GRIEZMANN

The Atletico Madrid playmaker heads a list of potential replacements for Neymar, according to Sport. Barcelona seem resigned to losing their Brazilian star to PSG, and have a shortlist of targets to replace him, including Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele and PSG’s Angel di Maria.

However, Griezmann is the preference given his experience in Spain. His €100 million release clause is currently set at €200 million until the end of the window in order to protect Atletico this summer and that could prove to be a stumbling block, as Barcelona are unlikely to pay that amount regardless of what they receive for Neymar.

RATING: 2/10

SPORT360 VERDICT: Griezmann is no doubt the best possible replacement for Neymar available – except that he’s declared that he’s not actually available. Earlier in the summer, when speculation was rife that the Frenchman was on his way to Manchester United, he committed to staying at Atletico this summer in the wake of the club’s transfer ban.

There’s no reason his stance would have changed – and if it does, United are likely to renew their interest, giving Barcelona some competition.

PHILIPPE COUTINHO

RMCSport are reporting that Liverpool have knocked back a €100 million bid from Barcelona for Coutinho, having already rejected an €80 million offer last summer from the Catalan side.

Liverpool have insisted that Coutinho is not for sale, and given that the latest bid would have broken the record for the biggest transfer fee paid for a Liverpool player, the Reds are clearly determined to hold onto their man.

RATING: 4/10

SPORT360: It seems Barcelona are going to endure a frustrating time looking to replace Neymar. Liverpool cannot afford to sell Coutinho, who is the club’s best player and vital to their hopes in the Premier League and Champions League.

Fortunately for them, they are also under no pressure to sell, unlike with Luis Suarez or Raheem Sterling previously. Coutinho was awarded a new contract earlier this year and does not attract the media scrutiny Suarez did which forced Liverpool to sell him in 2014.

SADIO MANE

Inter Milan are looking to land Liverpool’s Sadio Mane in a £35 million deal, the Daily Express claims. The Milan club have seen city rivals AC Milan go on a spending spree and are determined not to fall behind. Like AC Milan, Inter are also under new ownership and will be willing to splash the cash to land their targets.

RATING: 2/10

SPORT360 VERDICT: This sale is even less likely to happen than Coutinho’s, where at least there would be the temptation of a club-record transfer fee.

Mane cost Liverpool £34 million last summer, so £35 million now would be a gross undervaluation of one of the Reds’ key players. And again, Mane will be intrinsic to Liverpool’s quest for trophies this season, and they are under no pressure to sell.

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