Barcelona coach dismisses talk of Neymar returning to Camp Nou as ‘fantasy’

Neymar has consistently been linked with a return to Spain. (AFP)
Updated 09 March 2018
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Barcelona coach dismisses talk of Neymar returning to Camp Nou as ‘fantasy’

BARCELONA: coach Ernesto Valverde has dismissed reports suggesting Neymar could leave Paris Saint-Germain and return to the Catalan giant as “fantasy.”
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 €222 million ($264 million), Neymar´s future has grown 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.
Asked about the reports on Friday, Valverde said: “It seems to me a fantasy and we do not know where it came from or where it will end.
“It is a fantasy and we are not going to speak about rumors when we know it would not end here.”
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.
Real coach Zinedine Zidane said on Friday: “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 may well 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 canceled 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.


Arsenal open US tour with 3-0 friendly win in Colorado

Updated 16 July 2019
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Arsenal open US tour with 3-0 friendly win in Colorado

LOS ANGELES: Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli scored in his Arsenal debut Monday as the English Premier League club launched their pre-season tour of the US with a 3-0 friendly win over the Colorado Rapids.

Bukayo Saka and James Olayinka also scored for the Gunners, who cruised to victory at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in suburban Denver.

Martinelli, the 18-year-old forward signed from Ituano on July 2, was given a surprise start in attack by Unai Emery and sent an early chance wide.

Saka, 17, was an energetic presence and put Arsenal up 1-0 in the 13th minute as he collected a through-ball from Eddie Nketiah.

Another teenager — 18-year-old Olayinka —  doubled the score in the 29th, seizing a stray pass from defense and racing in to fire into the top left corner of the net.

Martinelli, having missed his early chance, capped the scoring in the 61st when he slotted home a cross from close range.

The Rapids, in the midst of the Major League Soccer season, fielded a mostly reserve side that featured several players from the lower-rung Colorado Springs Switchbacks.

Arsenal, too, started a reserve team as they begin their build up to the Premier League season after again failing to secure a Champions League berth.

The tour has not started without controversy. Captain Laurent Koscielny refused to travel to the US, and a group of influential Arsenal supporters’ organizations published a statement on Monday hitting out at Stan Kroenke’s “passive ownership.”

Under a hashtag “WeCareDo You” the statement decried a “soulless” atmosphere at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and a lack of transfer strategy.

Kroenke, who began investing in the club in 2007 through his company Kroenke Sports Enterprises and took full ownership in 2018, also owns the Rapids as well as the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.