Neymar Still Convinced He Will Leave PSG This Summer as Barcelona Work on Potential Deal

?Brazilian superstar Neymar is determined to engineer an exit from Paris Saint-Germain this summer and is eyeing a return to former club Barcelona as the transfer window deadline creeps ever closer. 

The 27-year-old declared his intention to leave the French side over the summer, but a deal has yet to be agreed with any potential suitors. 


Barcelona remain in pole position to land the sulking forward, but the Catalan club are struggling to come to an agreement with the Parisians. PSG are seemingly happy to see the back of the Brazilian winger this summer, but only for the right price.

According to ?Le Parisien, ?Neymar’s entourage has reiterated their client’s desire to leave France, and Barcelona are likely to launch another bid to land the superstar.

La Blaugrana have already splashed a huge amount of cash this summer, spending €120m on Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid and €75m on Dutch wonderkid Frenkie de Jong.

Antoine Griezmann

?Barcelona will subsequently need to include at least one of their own players in a swap-deal with PSG, so as not to incur the wrath of the Financial Fair Play committee.

Former Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho was the prime candidate to depart Camp Nou and head to Parc des Princes, but he is instead set to join ?Bayern Munich on loan with a view to a permanent move at the end of the season. 

This agreement may force Barcelona to insert winger ?Ousmane Dembele into the Neymar deal, although the Frenchman has stated he has no interest in leaving the Spanish side this summer. 


How Much Barcelona Still Owe Liverpool for Philippe Coutinho as Bayern Close in on Loan Deal

Reports in Spain in recent hours have suggested Liverpool are set to pocket a handy €20m from Philippe Coutinho’s imminent season-long loan switch from Barcelona to Bayern Munich – but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

The Brazil international has been subject to near constant speculation about his future this summer and now looks set to end his underwhelming spell in Catalonia with a temporary move to the German champions.


However, reports Liverpool are set to receive €20m from this loan deal appear to be somewhat wide of the mark. ?

The Echo understands that the European champions have already received as much as €155m from Barcelona for the 27-year-old, with just €5m still outstanding between the two clubs.

Liverpool’s coffers were significantly swollen back in January 2018, after their want-away star finally sealed his €160m switch to the Catalan giants, following months of frustrating transfer speculation.

Despite netting 21 times in 76 appearances and bagging back-to-back La Liga titles during his time at the Camp Nou, Coutinho has faced frequent criticism from the press and the terraces as he struggled to live up to his huge price tag. 

The deal negotiated by the club’s now famed sporting director Michael Edwards, was the largest in ?Liverpool‘s history. The funds went some way to the funding of a club record move for Virgil van Dijk as Liverpool’s fortunes dramatically improved on the field.

Edwards also included a clause, effectively barring ?Barcelona from making a move for any other Liverpool stars, until the summer of 2020. The prohibitive clause would see Los Cules having to pay a whopping €100 premium for any Reds player on their radar.  


7 of the Biggest Opening Day Shocks in European Football History

?Curtain-raisers produce some weird, wild and wacky results.

It’s always difficult to assess a team’s chances after several months away from competitive action and a recent tour of Asia, the United States or any other far-off reaches of the globe. Nevertheless, we always marvel at the sight of an underdog toppling one of the big boys, even if it’s the first fixture of the new campaign. 

Antoine Griezmann

Athletic Bilbao’s ?late victory over Barcelona on Friday night certainly caught the attention of football lovers the world over, whilst Bayern Munich’s ?captivating 2-2 draw with Hertha Berlin was a result few saw coming.

However, those are not the greatest shocks to have occurred on matchday one. Here, we take a look at seven of the biggest opening day upsets from across the continent.

Offenbacher Kickers 6-0 Bayern Munich (1974)

Jonny Hansen

?Die Roten’s record for round 1 fixtures is far superior to any other ?Bundesliga club, with a 6-0 crushing of Werder Bremen in 2016 the joint-largest first game victory since the league’s foundation in 1963.

Fittingly, they were also involved in the only other 6-0 win in a German curtain-raiser. Unfortunately for the Bavarians, they were on the receiving end as Offenbacher Kickers humiliated the reigning European champions in 1974.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was given a top-flight debut he would never forget on that late-August afternoon, the legendary forward ghosting through the contest as the illustrious Bayern Munich were brought to their knees.

Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United (1995)


Alan Hansen’s reputation as a pundit went south after ?Manchester United secured a league and cup double at the end of the 1995/96 season. After the Red Devils had lost their first ?Premier League match of the year 3-1 to ?Aston Villa, the Scot made a memorable comment about youth.

Hansen had claimed that (as quoted by ?BBC): “You can’t win anything with kids”. 

In his defence, United’s frailties had just been ruthlessly exposed by a team that finished one place above the relegation zone just three months prior and there were glaring questions about team personnel.

How was the former ?Liverpool defender to know the fame and glory that Sir Alex Ferguson’s young recruits would garner in the coming years? David Beckham, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes were mere mortals back then.

Numancia 1-0 Barcelona (2008)

Thierry Henry

Semi final exits in both the ?Champions League and Copa del Rey, combined with a third spot ?La Liga, had seen Frank Rijkaard vacate his position as ?Barcelona manager in the summer of 2008.

La Blaugrana decided to gamble and gave the reins to Pep Guardiola, who had been coaching in the Barça academy setup since retiring from on-field matters. We all know the success that he would bring to the Nou Camp during his four years at the helm, but it started horribly for Pep.

A star-studded lineup failed to overcome newly-promoted Numancia in front of a 9,000-strong crowd, with supporters swiftly turning on Guardiola and his strange footballing philosophy. Just have a look at a few of the players that started against the minnows: Samuel Eto’o, Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Yaya Toure, Carles Puyol… how did they not win 8-0?

Wigan Athletic 0-4 Blackpool (2010)

Alex Baptiste

Having been exiled from the top division of English football since the late 1960s, Blackpool made an unexpected return to the promised land in 2010, courtesy of an enthralling 3-2 triumph over ?Cardiff City in the ?Championship playoff final.

The Tangerines had been favourites to drop down to the third-tier that season and they were once again marked down as relegation fodder when they began their maiden Premier League campaign.

Though they would ultimately succumb and slip through the trap door, Ian Holloway’s fearless seasiders could always be relied upon for fun. Their reputation as the league’s great entertainers started with an attention-grabbing 4-0 victory away to ?Wigan Athletic, Marlon Harewood hitting a brace as Blackpool stole second position in the table.

West Bromwich Albion 3-0 Liverpool (2012)

Luis Suarez,Gareth McAuley

Brendan Rodgers had worked wonders at ?Swansea City, instilling grit as well as a slick style-of-play to keep the Welshmen’s heads above water in their first season since gaining promotion to the Premier League.

So impressive was Rodgers’ performance in the dugout, that the mighty Liverpool lured him north to Anfield for the 2012/13 campaign. There were serious issues with the club at the point in time, however, and the Northern Irishman was given a baptism of fire at the Hawthorns.

Still getting to grips with his squad, Rodgers helplessly watched on as ?West Bromwich Albion tore them to shreds with a convincing display on opening day. 

Juventus 0-1 Udinese (2015)

Paul Pogba,Paulo Dybala

Four Scudetti had been added to ?Juventus’ enormous trophy cabinet in the space of four years. The Old Lady had fallen agonisingly short of collecting their third European Cup as they lost 3-1 to Barcelona in May. They had a team packed with household names.

None of that mattered when the Bianconeri kicked off their challenge for a fifth successive ?Serie A title at home to Udinese in 2015, a side who had come 16th the year prior. Cyril Thereau got the winner as the contest drew to a close, Paul Pogba and co left speechless as the striker coolly slotted home a late volley.

Newly-Relegated Championship Sides (2019)

Marcus Bettinelli

The Championship is notoriously difficult to navigate. Even so, it was a jolt to the system to see the three sides relegated from last year’s Premier League – ?Fulham, Cardiff and ?Huddersfield Town – all fall to defeat in Round 1.

Jan Siewert was the first manager to pay the price for an underwhelming starts as his spell as Huddersfield boss came to an untimely end on Friday. The Cottagers and Bluebirds both bounced back from their losses, but Town went down once again.


Athletic 1-0 Barcelona: Suarez Injury Update, Griezmann’s Debut & Valverde’s Reaction to Shock Loss

?Barcelona stuttered to a shock defeat in their opening La Liga clash of the season, going down 1-0 to Athletic Club after a fabulous late overhead kick from veteran striker Aritz Aduriz.

Ernesto Valverde’s side came close to breaking the deadlock on a number of occasions and even hit the woodwork twice, with both Luis Suárez and Rafinha being denied by the post and crossbar respectively.

But Suárez’s effort was his last involvement in the game, as he then limped off injured – instead enduring a watching brief as his teammates underwhelmed in Bilbao. Here’s some of the fallout from Barça’s opening day misery.

Luis Suarez Injury

As alluded to, the Uruguay international went down with an injury – which Barcelona have now confirmed on their official website to be a calf problem.


The club have not made it clear how long they expect the 32-year-old to be out of action for, but calf injuries can often range anywhere from two to six weeks.

With Suárez now set to join Lionel Messi on the treatment table, all eyes are likely to be on Antoine Griezmann after an underwhelming debut for La Blaugrana.

Antoine Griezmann’s Debut

Griezmann’s long awaited debut was disappointing to say the least, with the Frenchman unable to stamp his authority on proceedings.

Perhaps feeling the weight of expectation, Griezmann was a peripheral figure for much of the game against Athletic. You may think that Valverde would leap to the defence of his new signing, but Barça’s boss instead claimed that the £108m man must do more to get involved.

Antoine Griezmann

If he’s near the area, he is decisive and moves well, but you have to dominate the game for that to happen,” Valverde said, quoted by Goal“Putting him on the left side, we know that you are going to focus on the goal, but we have a side and players that can hold the game.

“Of course, he is aware that we all expect a lot from many players and he has to look to get more into the game.”

Ernesto Valverde’s Reaction

Valverde’s management will be under intense scrutiny after last season’s Champions League failings, in which Barça surrendered a three goal lead to Liverpool at the semi-final stage. So defeat in the first game is not what he would have needed – and Valverde was acutely aware that things were not good enough, admitting that Lionel Messi’s absence through injury was felt.

“It was not good, but the best chances were ours although we didn’t do well, we were too far back. In the second the game was ours and we corrected the situation,” Valverde admitted, via Sport.?

Ernesto Valverde

“It’s true we’re used to playing in a way and Leo shines in a lot of situations because he beats a man or filters a pass through. We’re not all like him and we have to learn to cope when he’s not there. It’s inevitable to miss him, but we need to do other things too. We have to transform possession into goal chances, that’s what counts.”

Joining Griezmann and Suárez in Barça’s front three on Friday was their second most expensive signing of all time, Ousmane Dembélé. But collectively, Valverde’s side managed just two shots on target at the San Mamés Stadium – which must be addressed going forward.

Barcelona’s 1-0 loss was the first time that they’d walked away from the opening weekend of a La Liga season without a point or even a goal since 2008, where then-manager Pep Guardiola saw his side lose on the road to CD Numancia.


Athletic Club 1-0 Barcelona: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Late Goal Sends Barça Bottom of La Liga

Athletic Club started their La Liga season in the best way possible on Friday night, beating reigning champions Barcelona thanks to a stunning strike from Aritz Aduriz.


Athletic had two big opportunities to take the lead early on, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen denied Inaki Williams on both occasions. The first was a wonderful save from Williams’ powerful long shot, before ter Stegen got down quickly to push away his shot from inside the box.

Barcelona could’ve taken the lead soon after when a woeful backpass fell straight to Luis Suarez, but the Uruguayan couldn’t capitalise, as he turned and smacked the post before coming off injured moments later.

Chances were limited in the second half, with Ivan Rakitic blazing a golden opportunity over the bar and Antoine Griezmann missing a few headers. Athletic also had chances of their own, with Yeray Alvarez and Yuri coming close.

As the game looked to be ending goalless, Athletic snatched the three points in the 89th minute thanks to a stunning strike from Aritz Aduriz. The 38-year-old substitute got the ball on the edge of the box, and pulled off a spectacular bicycle kick to stun the visitors. 


Key Talking Point

Athletic knew that they had a tough task when they were preparing to face the reigning champions, and produced a very strong first half performance – controlling the game and creating the better chances, though they were frustrated as they couldn’t capitalise.

The visitors improved after the break, threatening the Athletic goal far more often. The hosts were nonetheless excellent and disciplined in defence, doing well to reduce the amount of attempts Barcelona had on goal. 

Athletic really deserved the win, as they were the better side for the majority of the game and kept on fighting. A fantastic start to the season for the Basque club, who can go into the rest of the season full of confidence after beating the best team in the country.

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Simon (7); Berchiche (6), Nunez (6), Alvarez (7), Capa (6); D.Garcia (6), Lopez (6); Muniain (7), R.Garcia (6), De Marcos (6); Williams (7*).

Substitutes: Sancet (6), Benat (6), Aduriz (7).

Sergi Roberto,Inaki Williams

STAR MAN – Inaki Williams was excellent from start to finish, and played a huge role in Athletic’s promising performance. He worked the hardest, ran the furthest and created all of the chances, and while he didn’t score the winner he helped inspire Athletic to the win.


Key Talking Point


??Ba?rcelona? kicked off their league defence in Bilbao, after cruising to their 26th La Liga title last season. However, they were second best for the duration of the first half, struggling to keep up with the hosts and failing to really leave their mark on the game.

They came into the second half much improved, and played with more urgency and quality going forward. However they lost concentration right at the end and will be furious to have started the campaign with a defeat – however stunning the winner.

The result poses questions about what the season ahead holds for Barça, once again asking how much they rely on star man ?Lionel Messi. They must figure out why they lost on Friday night and fix those problems, in a concerning and frustrating opening to the season.

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Ter Stegen (7*); Alba (6), Lenglet (5), Pique (6), Semedo (6); Alena (6), Roberto (6), De Jong (7); Dembele (6), Suarez (N/A), Griezmann (6).

Substitutes: Rafinha (6), Rakitic (7), Perez (6).


STAR MAN – While he couldn’t hold on for his first clean sheet of the season, ?Ter Stegen made a string of crucial saves for Barca. The German kept the visitors in the game for far longer than they should’ve been, though will be disappointed that he couldn’t keep Aduriz’s stunner out. Not because he should have saved it, but…well, he’s a goalkeeper. When aren’t they disappointed with goals they’ve conceded?

Looking Ahead


Athletic are on the road next to the capital, as they travel to Getafe next Saturday. Los Leones are then back at home for their first rivalry of the season, as they host Real Sociedad in the Basque derby on 30 August.

Barcelona have their first game at the Camp Nou next Sunday, as Real Betis are the visitors to Catalunya. The Blaugrana then take a trip across to Pamplona, as they visit Osasuna on 31 August.