Zone Blitz: Are Barcelona doing the right thing by trying to re-sign Neymar?

By George Davis, Mariah Ramharack&Lance Whittaker July 18, 2019

It's said you should never go back to your ex but Barcelona and Neymar could be a re-marriage made in heaven.

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  • Barca boss Setien on links to Valencia forward Rodrigo: I like all good players! Barca boss Setien on links to Valencia forward Rodrigo: I like all good players!

    Barcelona boss Quique Setien says he likes "all good players" amid links of a move for Valencia striker Rodrigo.

    The LaLiga leaders are in the market for a new striker after Luis Suarez was ruled out for the majority of the campaign following surgery on his knee.

    Barca have been linked with numerous players since Suarez went under the knife on January 11, including Chimy Avila, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Timo Werner.

    Rodrigo is another rumoured target and Setien waxed lyrical over the Spain international, who has been nursing a knee injury of his own over the past few weeks.

    Asked specifically about Rodrigo at his pre-match news conference ahead of this weekend's league clash with Valencia at Mestalla, Setien said: "I like all good players.

    "He's an extraordinary footballer and tomorrow he could give us problems - he is a key player for their team.

    "I would have preferred if he wasn't playing, but we know that if he's not there then there is another player. Valencia have a great squad with or without Rodrigo."

    Setien was appointed as Ernesto Valverde's successor last week and has won his first two games in charge, including a 2-1 Copa del Rey victory against Ibiza in midweek.

    Barca were given a real scare by the minnows, requiring a last-minute goal from Antoine Griezmann to secure a comeback victory and a last-16 tie against Leganes.

    And after dominating the possession count in the wins over Granada and Ibiza, Setien admitted it would have counted for little had his side not picked up the victories.

    "I had a huge shock in Ibiza," he said. "I am not going to lie, this is clear. We have to stress a lot the things that we give high importance to. In theory, this shouldn't take us long.

    "But in general I already know that lots of people only care about results. Those will only care to win, not how we play. This is like this in today's football and its fine to me.

    "I believe that the way [you play] should be valued too, how you get to the victory or how you lose. That seems like the right way to look at things, even though I can understand that some people only care about the results."

    Barca are level on points with Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga ahead of their meeting with Valencia, who are seventh in the table after losing 4-1 at Real Mallorca last time out in the league.

    Setien is wary of a response from Albert Celades' side, however, adding: "When a team like Valencia loses their previous match, the desire to break this streak is a motivation. As I always say and repeat, I always expect the best version of our rivals. 

    "Valencia is a great team, without doubt, with very good footballers. They will make things difficult for us and it will be truly a match of great level. 

    "Our capacity to harm them might be bigger because they are a team with capacity to attack. Surely they will try so we will take the most of those spaces. We will probably have more spaces than in the previous two matches."

  • Arteta '50-50' on Arsenal transfers but confident Aubameyang is happy Arteta '50-50' on Arsenal transfers but confident Aubameyang is happy

    Mikel Arteta described his confidence in Arsenal signing new players this month as "50-50", but he appears confident Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is not about to leave the club.

    Calum Chambers has suffered a serious injury, while Arsenal will now also be without David Luiz through suspension after a red card at Chelsea, leaving Arteta short on defenders.

    The Gunners have been linked with Shakhtar Donetsk's Mykola Matvienko and Paris Saint-Germain's Layvin Kurzawa, although Arteta would not comment on specific names ahead of the FA Cup fourth-round tie at Bournemouth.

    The head coach acknowledged Arsenal have been looking at defenders, but he was unsure if there would be any January arrivals.

    "I'm not going to be discussing any transfer links publicly," he told a news conference. "It's something that we are trying to do internally and, when we have news, we will communicate with you guys.

    "We've been looking at different positions. Obviously, since I joined, we lost Calum and we had other circumstances and injuries in those positions, so it's true that, at the back, we've been short.

    "But there are other positions as well, depending on what happens in the market, that we might need to assess.

    "At the moment, I am 50-50, because this transfer window is very, very complicated. I only want to bring somebody in if I'm really convinced that he can really improve the level that we have."

    One move Arteta is keen not to see go through, though, both this month and beyond, is Aubameyang to Barcelona, amid reported interest from the LaLiga giants.

    Suggestions in the Spanish media this week said Aubameyang was open to the transfer, but that is not Arteta's understanding.

    "As far as I know, a week ago, after a game at home, we were discussing that he said he was so happy," Arteta said.

    "He didn't agree with the things that were written in the media and [said] he has his future here. That's what I understand at the moment."

    Dani Ceballos' future appears less clear, the on-loan Real Madrid midfielder having been linked with a return to LaLiga after struggling to establish himself at Emirates Stadium and contending with injury.

    "I had a conversation with Dani," Arteta said. "When I joined the club, he wasn't here, he was in Madrid because he was doing his rehab - for over a month - in Madrid with the team that owns him.

    "And then, when I came here, he was doing his rehab and, by the first two or three weeks, he was getting back to fitness and I haven't seen much of him because he's only trained with us for a week or 10 days.

    "So it's very early to assess what I can or cannot do with him. I heard about all those things but I have nothing to comment.

    "He needs to get back to fitness and fight for his place. After that, we will make the selection that I think is fair with what I see on the pitch."

  • Real Madrid drawn at Zaragoza, Copa holders Valencia visit Cultural Real Madrid drawn at Zaragoza, Copa holders Valencia visit Cultural

    Real Madrid must again overcome lower-league opposition in the Copa del Rey last 16, while holders Valencia go to giant-killers Cultural Leonesa.

    Zinedine Zidane's Madrid survived a scare against Unionistas de Salamanca in the previous round, and they will this time visit Real Zaragoza, who are fourth in LaLiga 2.

    Barcelona were also tested by minnows in the previous round, scraping past Ibiza, but they have the benefit of a home fixture as they bid to reach the quarter-finals.

    With LaLiga sides kept apart where possible, the Blaugrana were selected in one of just two ties solely involving top-tier teams.

    They will face Leganes at Camp Nou while the majority of their LaLiga rivals are away from home.

    Segunda B side Cultural defeated Atletico Madrid in extra-time on Thursday, and their reward is a meeting with Valencia, who beat Barca in last season's final.

    Badajoz, the only other third-tier side remaining in the competition, also have LaLiga opposition in the form of Granada.

    The second all-LaLiga tie saw Real Sociedad drawn at home to Osasuna.


    Copa del Rey last-16 draw in full:

    Badajoz v Granada
    Cultural Leonesa v Valencia
    Tenerife v Athletic Bilbao
    Real Zaragoza v Real Madrid
    Mirandes v Sevilla
    Rayo Vallecano v Villarreal
    Barcelona v Leganes
    Real Sociedad v Osasuna

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