Ernesto Valverde reveals date he hopes Lionel Messi will return and discusses Neymar rumours

Tom Allnutt 31/08/2019
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Lionel Messi

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has admitted he cannot wait for speculation about Neymar to end when the transfer window closes on Monday.

Valverde also confirmed that Lionel Messi will not recover from his calf injury in time to face Osasuna in La Liga on Saturday.

Messi tore his calf on August 5 and his absence might have accelerated Barca’s chase for Neymar, although reports in Spain on Friday suggested they may be unwilling to meet Paris Saint-Germain’s demands.

With two days left before the market shuts, there is still time for a last attempt, with Barcelona director Jordi Bordas saying on Tuesday that an agreement was “closer”.

“I am very much looking forward to the day the transfer window closes,” said Valverde in a press conference on Friday.

“We can all then rest and know this is the squad that we have.

“On the issue of Neymar, I have nothing more to say. He is a player from another team, we respect other clubs and we’ll see what happens.”

Messi has yet to play this season, despite returning to training with the first team last week.

Barcelona have denied their captain has suffered a setback and hope to have him available for the league game at home to Valencia on September 14, before their Champions League opener away to Borussia Dortmund three days later.

“The process of recovery continues as normal,” Valverde said. “It is true that now the margins are small and we hope that for the game against Valencia he might be available.

“Then we start the Champions League and we hope to have him back for that but we will see how he progresses in these two weeks with the injury.”

Antoine Griezmann scored twice in Messi’s absence last weekend as Barcelona bounced back from defeat to Athletic Bilbao by thrashing Real Betis 5-2.

Ousmane Dembele (hamstring) and Luis Suarez (calf) will also sit out the trip to newly-promoted Osasuna, who have started with a win away at Leganes and a draw at home to Eibar.

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PSG sporting director discusses Neymar to Barcelona but says club's position is clear

David Cooper 31/08/2019
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Neymar

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo remains hopeful a deal can still be done for Neymar to leave the club before the transfer window closes.

The Brazilian, who is yet to play this season, has been repeatedly linked with a return to Spain with either former club Barcelona or Real Madrid, but his future remains unresolved.

The European window closes on September 2 and any potential deal will need to be agreed by then.

Leonardo told the club’s official website after the 2-0 win over Metz: “Our position on a potential departure of Neymar is clear, everyone knows what we want.

“We got a first written offer on 27 August and we refused it, the conditions didn’t suit us.

“There are three days until the end of the transfer window, and for the moment, there is no agreement. We’re talking a lot, with Neymar in particular.

“He’s an extraordinary player, I didn’t know him personally before I came back to Paris. He has gone through a lot of things, he’s a football star today, I like him a lot, we have a good relationship with him.”

Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola was also left out against Metz and Leonardo confirmed discussions are taking place over his departure.

He added: “Areola is in talks with another club, he didn’t want to play this evening. We respected his decision. We still don’t know if he’ll leave, everything is still possible.”

Angel Di Maria and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored to send PSG to the top of Ligue 1 with the win over Metz and coach Thomas Tuchel was happy with his side’s display despite the speculation around the club’s players.

He told the club’s official website: “We controlled the game, we were serious and attentive. It was necessary to be today after a week in which a lot has happened.

“We stayed focused, the team put in a great performance, we’re happy.

“(Goalkeeper) Marcin Bulka’s debut pleased me a lot, he’s someone who has a lot of confidence in himself, he managed the pressure, and Adil (Aouchiche) also had a good game, it wasn’t easy for him, he’s very young. But I’m very satisfied.”

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Former Spain and Barcelona coach Luis Enrique announces death of daughter, aged nine

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Former Barcelona and Spain head coach Luis Enrique has announced the death of his nine-year-old daughter.

Enrique stepped down from his role with the national team in June for personal reasons, but also missed the last three matches of his 11-month tenure.

The 49-year-old revealed on Thursday that his daughter had died following a battle with bone cancer.

“Our daughter Xana has passed away this afternoon at the age of nine, after fighting for five intense months against osteosarcoma,” read a statement on Enrique’s Twitter account.

“Thank you for all of the love received during these months and we appreciate the discretion and understanding.

“Thanks also to the staff at the Sant Joan de Deu and Sant Pau hospitals for their dedication and treatment – doctors, nurses and all volunteers. A special mention for the palliative care team at Sant Joan de Deu.

“We will miss you very much but we will remember you every day of our lives with the hope that in the future we will meet again. You will be the star that guides our family.”

Barcelona, who Enrique guided to Champions League glory in 2015, tweeted: “Our condolences and all our sympathy to Luis Enrique and his family at this very difficult time. RIP Xana.”

Real Madrid, where Enrique spent five years as a player, also conveyed their “deepest condolences” in a short message on social media, while the Spanish football Federation said: “The RFEF mourns the sad loss of little Xana.

“We want to show our condolences to the family and friends.”

Another of Enrique’s former clubs, Roma, said they were “heartbroken” at the news, adding that their thoughts were with the family “at this impossibly sad and difficult time”.

Copy provided by Press Association Sport

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