Paris Saint-Germain manager Unai Emery has talked up the players linked with a move to the club, hailing both Alexis Sanchez and Kylian Mbappe as ‘fantastic’ players. The former Sevilla boss also spoke about Barcelona’s Neymar, hinting that the club are looking to bring him into the French capital.
Reports over the last week or so have been rife with claims that PSG are about to smash the world record transfer fee with a £195m bid for Barcelona’s Neymar, and while nothing is yet confirmed, Emery has dropped a big hint that his side are after the 25-year-old.
“PSG wants the best players in the world, who are in the best clubs in the world,” Emery told L’Equipe (via the Evening Standard).
?“If PSG want to rival Bayern [Munich], Real [Madrid] and Barcelona, we need a player in the top five in the world, We are trying to get one signed this summer.
“Since he joined Barcelona, Neymar has progressed a lot. I witnessed this while with Sevilla. Now, he is among the world’s top five. The president and the club have been working for the past few years on bringing in the best players.
“The team, but also the fans, would be happy to boast a player in the top five, six or seven in the world on top of the strong players we already have here. The quest is not over. Perhaps he will arrive, perhaps not.”
Emery then went on to discuss the others that his side are linked with, stating that Mbappe appeals to the Parisians because of his nationality:
“Sanchez and Mbappe are fantastic players,” Emery added. “Moreover, Mbappe is French. I want French players at a French club.”
Arsenal have been given the opportunity to lure Barcelona’s wantaway star Rafinha from the Nou Camp.
Sky Sports have reported that the Gunners have been “offered the chance” to secure the signature of the midfielder this summer, but no word has yet been received as to whether they will take up that offer to do so.
Sources close to the player are believed to have told Sky that Barcelona would agree to let him leave if a fee of at least £27m was offered to them – gossip which flies in the face of club president Josep Maria Bartomeu’s comments that Rafinha was not up for sale.
Rafinha has seemingly grown tired of waiting around for first-team chances to present themselves in Catalunya and Barca boss Ernesto Valverde appears to have granted the 24-year-old a way out of the club with a switch to the Premier League.
Arsenal were linked with a £26.4m move for Rafinha in late June, with a report from the ?Sun suggesting that the five-times capped international was upset over not earning more minutes on the pitch for the Copa del Rey holders.
A product of Barcelona’s famed La Masia youth academy, Rafinha has played 78 times for the La Liga giants’ first-team since he broke into the senior setup over four seasons ago.
However, the Brazil international endured a torrid 2016/17 campaign as a spate of niggling injuries restricted to 28 appearances in all competitions, with just 16 of those come from the start.
A bruised rib, thigh and and achilles strains and a broken nose all contributed to a stop-start season for Rafinha, and his campaign was brought to a premature end when the versatile La Blaugrana player suffered a meniscus tear during the 4-1 victory away at Granada on 5th April.
?Brazilian defender Thiago Silva has added fuel to the already ferocious fire surrounding Neymar’s heavily rumoured move to Paris Saint-Germain, after liking an Instagram post of the Barcelona star photoshopped in a PSG kit.
The French giants have a strong Brazilian contingent within their ranks. New signing Dani Alves is accompanied by Marquinhos, Lucas Moura and Silva in the French capital, and if reports are to be believed, their fellow compatriot Neymar ?could yet be added to that list for an astronomical fee.
Now it appears that the current PSG captain Silva is getting a little carried away about that prospect.
Looks like Thiago Silva is a little bit excited about rumors linking Neymar to PSG, as he liked this post on Instagram. pic.twitter.com/haemyvi5cV
— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) July 20, 2017
??The 32-year-old has been caught ‘liking’ an Instagram post depicting the club’s Brazilians in their PSG kits – with Neymar as the focal point of the photo.
The current Barcelona player has had his future thrown into the air after many claimed that PSG have triggered his enormous £195m release clause at Camp Nou.
Whilst the Catalan club has rubbished the rumours, and further reports have emerged claiming that Neymar has no intention of leaving the Blaugrana, many are still hoping he makes the switch to the French capital.
When asked about the possibility of Neymar joining, Silva admitted that despite the activity merely being rumours at this point in time, his arrival would be welcomed.
“Neymar in Paris? I don’t know.” He told Sport. “I’ve heard a lot of journalists talking but at the minute there is nothing concrete although I think it is important for the PSG project. If he comes, it will be good for the group.”
PSG are currently hellbent on regaining the Ligue 1 title, after finishing behind Monaco in 2016/17, and Neymar’s introduction could go a long way to achieving that.
?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.