?Paris Saint-Germain are trying to unsettle Neymar as an act of revenge for Barcelona’s continued pursuit of Marco Verratti, according to former Catalan president Joan Gaspart.
The French giants have been heavily linked with the Brazilian this week and a source close to the club has told? ESPN FC that they have been made aware that a deal is possible.
Gaspart believes Neymar will stay in Spain, claiming everything is down to Barcelona’s never ending interest in Verratti.
“Neymar won’t leave,” he told ?RAC1.
“What’s happening is that PSG are retaliating because they’re annoyed by a move to sign their player. They’re trying to make a mess of Neymar’s situation.
“I hope that Neymar clears up that he’s not going soon. I hope he says that he’s delighted to be at Barcelona and that the rumours have no foundations.
“As a Barca fan and someone involved in the world of football, so as someone who knows how this works, I think we will have Neymar at Barcelona for many more years. I’m convinced of that – we are witnessing destabilising tactics from PSG.”
Despite Gaspart being confident that Neymar will still be a Barcelona player next season, the 25-year-old declined the opportunity to make a statement when he was met by journalists at El Prat airport – the player returning from Ibiza after Barca players were given Thursday off.
Reports have emerged from ?Diario Sport that the Spanish outfit have asked Neymar to issue a denial to the reports which see Esporte Interativo claim that he has already accepted an offer from PSG.
The forward was part of the Barcelona squad which flew to the USA on Wednesday to compete against Juventus in Saturday’s International Champions Cup match.
After a disappointing season both in La Liga and Champions League last season, Luis Enrique decided to end his cycle as Barcelona’s main man to make way for Ernesto Valverde.
The former Athletic Bilbao coach has taken the difficult task of returning the Blaugrana to the top of Europe’s finest, getting the rest of the team to work around the continued genius of Lionel Messi and strengthen the occasionally leaky defence.
Doing all of this while fighting to keep hold of Neymar – who has recently been linked with a record money move to French giants Paris Saint-Germain – the Camp Nou could witness a pivotal season in its history.
Here are five ways Barça can help to ensure they start the season in the best possible position to usurp rivals Real Madrid and become the kings of Spain and Europe once more in 2018.
1. Keep Hold of Neymar
He is the key player of the Brazilian national team, a big-money signing for the Catalan giants and a fantastic footballer. Nevertheless, he is still in the shadows of lethal South American duo Messi and Luis Suarez. As a trio, they are devastating when on song, ripping the majority of teams to shreds.
However with the Argentina captain and former Liverpool man both 30 years old, inevitably in the next few years we could see a steady decline.
Neymar has the potential to be a Ballon d’Or winner. Barcelona have to fight off the temptations of selling him to PSG and give the samba star a more integral role in the team, or face losing a future world player of the year, while also dividing MSN.
2. Base Tactics on Possesion Once More
Under Enrique, they lost the dominating style of play that helped the La Liga giants sweep all before them between 2003 and now. Since Frank Rijkaard took the managerial hot seat and players like Ronaldinho were introduced to the team, Barcelona’s play was based on swagger and keeping a hold of the ball.
This was developed even further after prodigal son Pep Guardiola returned to take the helm in 2007. Promoting Sergio Busquets to the first team, giving Andres Iniesta a free role to roam and dictating the play through fulcrum Xavi, Messi was allowed the space to shine in a number 10 position he made his own. Drifting around the pitch and starting attacks from the goalkeeper, Barcelona dominated proceedings, often reaching beyond the 70% possession mark.
Unfortunately, in the last few years Enrique changed the style of play. It was only two seasons ago they won the treble but they did it in a direct manner that displeased the fans and board, who revere their style on out-passing the opposition, lulling them to sleep with triangle passes and mesmerizing movement off the ball.
3. Invest in Marco Verratti or Buy Back Thiago
With Iniesta slowly fading out of the first team due to the talented play makers age, Barça need a passing maestro in the middle of the pitch who can dictate the game in the same way Xavi used to do.
They were foolish to let homegrown player Thiago Alcântara go, who revels in his similar role at German juggernaut Bayern Munich. If they had any sense, they would try their upmost to re-sign the 26-year-old who is entering his prime.
Failing this, the rumoured move for Marco Verratti could be a fantastic acquisition. He is an excellent passer, both in terms of through balls, set-pieces and keeping the game ticking over. He would be perfectly suited to the passing game that the Barcelona fans crave.
4. Promote From Within
Barcelona lost a bit of their identity as a club last season with only a handful of their first team stars featuring on a regular basis. The last ten years of the success at the Camp Nou has been created around the theory that they don’t need to buy talent, instead they can produce it in La Masia and grow together through the ranks to create a philosophy that’s evident on the pitch.
However, there are a number of stars around Europe who Masia who could do a job in the first team. Bellerin is an obvious one, Thiago another while Sandro Ramirez impressed at Malaga and has gone to Everton instead.
They bought back Gerard Deulofeu which is a good start, but options exist out there that can improve the squad who have the ‘DNA’ of the club from within.
5. Go Back to Basics in Defence
For all their good intentions, sometimes solely focusing on creative genius and fifty passes before scoring a goal can have a negative effect on clinching major trophies. Real Madrid last season became the first team to defend the Champions League, while also wrestling La Liga from Barcelona because they started from the back.
Sergio Ramos was just as important as Cristiano Ronaldo, Casemiro played a key role protecting the back four and goalkeeper Keylor Navas kept them in many games with a number of fine saves.
Barcelona miss the defend-first philosophy former captain Carles Puyol represented. They still dominated games but when called upon, he marshalled the defence and threw everything but the kitchen sink at the ball. Samuel Umtiti stood out in his first season in the heart of the back four, but more must be done as a defensive unit between all ten-outfield players to prevent counter attacking teams from exploiting their weaknesses.
Amid the increasing speculation surrounding the future of Barcelona star Neymar, RMC reporter ?Mohamed Bouhafsi has claimed that the player’s representatives contacted Paris Saint-Germain first to open discussions for the 25-year-old to move to the French club.
Bouhafsi revealed the claims on his Twitter account which suggest those within Neymar’s entourage are shopping him around, with the motive unclear as it could be for another bumper contract from Barcelona, or to actually secure a move to the
C’est bien l’entourage de #Neymar qui est entré en contact avec le #PSG et qui a fait le premier pas pour réouvrir des discussions !
— Mohamed Bouhafsi (@mohamedbouhafsi) 20 July 2017
The tweets loosely translated, read:
“It is the entourage of #Neymar who came into contact with the #PSG and who took the first step to reopen discussions!
“Whatever happens, the #PSG is a winner even if Neymar re-evaluates his contract, after the Verratti affair, #PSG can touch FC Barcelona!”
Quoi qu’il arrive le #PSG est gagnant même si Neymar réévalue son contrat, après l’affaire Verratti, le #PSG peut toucher le FC Barcelone !
— Mohamed Bouhafsi (@mohamedbouhafsi) July 20, 2017
Whilst speculation is set to continue, PSG captain Thiago Silva – international teammate of Neymar – has added his two-cents to the saga as he expressed his hopes for the attacker to sign for PSG.
He told L’Equipe, via ?Sport English:
?Reports surfaced on Tuesday that Paris Saint-Germain were preparing to trigger Barcelona superstar Neymar’s £195m release clause to bring him to the Parc des Princes.
It would an incredible swoop should it actually materialise but, as expected, lots of different outlets are running conflicting stories regarding the situation.
One bold claim comes from Brazilian journalist Marcelo Bechler, who says that Neymar has actually spoken to some of the PSG players and that they understand he will join the Ligue 1 side in a world record deal.
He goes on to say that Barcelona could convince the star the stay with the right offer of money, but that is ‘not his intention’.
Neymar has been at the Nou Camp since 2013 following a big money move from boyhood club Santos, and over the past four years he has developed into the superstar everybody thought he would.
Jogadores do PSG conversaram com Neymar e já sabem que o atacante irá se unir a eles no clube francês.
— Marcelo Bechler (@marcelobechler) 19 July 2017
He has forged an utterly devastating understanding with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez on the Blaugrana frontline, but the trio will downgrade to a duo if Bechler proves to be correct.
Loose rumours of a move away for Neymar tend to crop up every summer window, with Manchester United having been credited with interest in the past, but wealthy PSG could be about to blow everybody out of the water by actually signing the South American pin-up.
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?Manchester United have emerged as surprise admirers of Paris Saint-Germain star and reported Barcelona target Marco Verratti.
The midfielder had been the subject of intense media speculation after the La Liga giants attempted to prise him away from the French capital, but reports now suggest that United have entered the race to sign him.
?Tuttomercatoweb has alleged that the Red Devils had sent scout Jose Mayorga to watch Verratti in the flesh throughout last term, and that he has already held talks with the Italy internationa’s team about a move to the Premier League.
What do you mean Marco Verratti, who didn’t get his move to Barcelona and probably now wants an improved deal, is being linked with #MUFC?
— Tom Coast (@thcoast) July 18, 2017
United boss Jose Mourinho wants to add a big-name signing to his midfield options after strengthening his defence and attack with the arrivals of £35m Victor Lindelof and £90m Romelu Lukaku from Benfica and Everton respectively.
The Portuguese manager has already been rebuffed in his advances for £60m-rated Tottenham ace Eric Dier and Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic, but still supposedly holds out hope of securing Monaco’s Fabinho.
That hasn’t stopped Mourinho from instructing his club from enquiring about Verratti’s availability though, despite the 24-year-old admitting that he was happy to remain at the Parc de Princes after gossip had all-but-confirmed he was set to join Barcelona.
Verratti was forced to apologise to PSG’s fanbase for comments made by his agent over a rumoured world-record £132m transfer to Catalunya earlier in the summer transfer window,
His apology, posted to PSG’s official Twitter account, read: “I saw what my agent said and just want to say that they are not my words at all.
“I want to apologise to everyone at the club, the president, the fans and the players. … I have become the player I am today also thanks to the club, and that’s why I’m deeply sorry.”
In spite of that statement – an apology some Barca fans believed Verratti was told to issue or else – reports in the UK believe United could still prise Verratti away from PSG before the window slams shut.
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