Neymar is to stay at Paris Saint-Germain after seeing his desire to transfer back to Barcelona fail, according to press reports on Sunday.
“Se queda,” Spanish for he’s staying, read the L’Equipe headline on its front page with a photo of the Brazilian.
“Faces with the impossibility of completing his transfer to Barcelona, Neymar had informed his entourage he has decided to end the season at PSG,” the daily said.
Spanish sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo carried similar news, which comes just ahead of the transfer market deadlines in France and Spain on Monday.
“Neymar’s entourage admit it: it’s finished,” it said.
Neymar, 27, became the world’s most expensive player when PSG paid €222 million for his transfer from Barcelona two years ago.
A scorer of 51 goals in 58 appearances in his two seasons in the French capital, Neymar has not featured at all for his current club this season amid the uncertainty surrounding his future.
He trained with PSG on Thursday, but coach Thomas Tuchel omitted him from the team that beat Metz 2-0 in Ligue 1 action on Friday.
Efforts to negotiate a suitably lucrative transfer back to Barcelona have seemingly floundered, with PSG sporting director Leonardo saying Friday there was “no agreement. It depends on Barcelona”.
Ansu Fati became the third youngest player to score in La Liga on Saturday but the 16-year-old could not rescue Barcelona from being held to a 2-2 draw away at newly-promoted Osasuna.
Fati equalised five minutes after coming on at half-time and Barca looked likely to complete the comeback when Arthur Melo, also on a substitute, made it two 13 minutes later at El Sadar Stadium.
Yet Roberto Torres, who had given Osasuna an early lead, delivered a twist by scoring a late second from the penalty spot after Gerard Pique handballed.
Hear from Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde in the clip above
The fingers are hovering over the panic button at Camp Nou as Barcelona dropped points for the second time in three La Liga games this season.
The defending champions failed to build on their impressive win over Real Betis and were halted by an inspired Osasuna side.
With just four points from a possible nine, the Catalans have recorded their worst start since 2008/09.
What went right and what went wrong for manager Ernesto Valverde in this intense clash against the newly promoted side? We take a look deeper look.
Goals scored: 2
Goals conceded: 2
Shots conceded: 15
Possession: 74.6 per cent
Valverde went ahead with a bold line-up, benching Ivan Rakitic and Arthur to provide Sergi Roberto more opportunities in midfield and Carles Perez another start in attack.
Some gambles paid off, and some didn’t. But the problem did not lie in the starting line-up to start with.
For the second season in a row, Barcelona are depending on second-half heroics to save face after woeful performances. That they have conceded first in all three games this season is unsettling and it’s time the manager addressed it.
Got right – Substitutions
Undoubtedly, Valverde’s biggest positive from the game, the substitutions were on point and yielded results almost immediately.
Ansu Fati came on for Nelson Semedo at half-time, with Sergi Roberto and Rafinha dropping to defence and midfield, respectively.
The 16-year-old scored with his head off a cross from Perez – yet another La Masia kid Valverde showed faith in – to level the score at 1-1. Soon, Arthur came on for the first time this season to replace Rafinha at the centre of the pitch.
The Brazilian took the mantle from Perez as Barcelona’s best player on the pitch by creating immediate impact after coming on. He scored a magnificent goal to provide Barcelona a momentary lead and produced two goal-scoring chances.
Got wrong – First-half
It’s not a good sign for Barcelona that they need a wake-up call in the first-half to trigger a delayed response in the second.
The manager deserves a major chunk of the blame when this happens for two seasons in a row.
That the Catalans are dormant until they concede should provide opponents with a major psychological boost ahead of every game. Most teams capitalise on this and push Barcelona to a point from where recovery is highly improbable.
Got wrong – Mentality
The mentality of the team after taking a lead also concerns.
With the exception from last week when Real Betis displayed an awful defensive performance and Barcelona took advantage, the Spanish giants switch into a conservative mood after going ahead.
This aspect of their play which is again an impression of how the manager wants them to play cost the team two 3-0 leads in the Champions League in the last two seasons. That Valverde has shown no signs of taking measures to kill the game after taking the lead warrants concern.
Credit when due, the manager did well to lead the team’s recovery in the second half and his substitutions were game-changing. However, the fact remains that Valverde must do more to prevent a situation where the team must depend on a second-half hero.
Valverde deserves the appreciation for going ahead with a bold line-up, but he must develop more clarity regarding the roles and positions of the players.
For the second game in a row, Frenkie de Jong disappointed as an advanced midfielder. Roberto was shifted to right-back after repeated claims that he will solely function as a midfielder.
These are some aspects that the coach must work on ahead of the big games that await Barcelona at the crucial end of the season.