Barcelona signing Neymar 'unlikely'

By Sports Desk July 07, 2020

Neymar returning to Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain is "unlikely", according to the LaLiga club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The Brazil forward left Camp Nou for the French capital in a world-record €222million deal back in 2017, but a return to Barcelona - where he won eight major trophies across four seasons - has long been mooted.

However, Bartomeu thinks such a move would be hard to pull off in the current climate as Europe's elite clubs adjust their plans due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Such an operation is unlikely because the situation of all the clubs in Europe is very difficult," Bartomeu told RAC 1.

Yet there was no such dismissal when Bartomeu was asked about another forward in Lautaro Martinez.

Lionel Messi's Argentina team-mate is said to have a €111m release clause in his contract, but that is thought to expire on Tuesday, and it has been reported Barca will not try to activate it before the deadline passes.

Martinez, 22, has scored 17 times in 37 appearances for Inter this term and is under contract at San Siro until 2023.

"I'm not talking about transfers," Bartomeu added when asked about Martinez.

"We have not marked the signings in the calendar on when they should be."

One man who will be joining Barcelona is midfielder Miralem Pjanic, who will move at the end of this season, with Arthur heading in the opposite direction to join Juventus.

Though Pjanic is seven years older than Arthur and there are reports Barcelona looked to offload the Brazilian to balance the books, Bartomeu insists the new signing had been a long-term target.

"Pjanic is a player who has wanted to sign for a long time, he was highly sought after and there is a Barca player who wants Juve," Bartomeu explained.

"But it is an exceptional situation. It is not to balance balances because we would have sold other players for whom we had offers. Arthur is a player who is highly valued."

Related items

  • Solskjaer still unsure of Mata's future at Man United Solskjaer still unsure of Mata's future at Man United

    Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is unsure whether Juan Mata will remain at Old Trafford beyond this season.

    The Spanish midfielder has spent the last seven-and-a-half years at Old Trafford, racking up 271 appearances during that time.

    However, he has struggled for minutes this season – featuring just 16 times in all competitions – and is due to become a free agent next month.

    United have the option to trigger a 12-month extension in Mata's contract, but Solskjaer insists the player himself will have the final say over his future.

    "I've kept the dialogue with Juan and we're due to speak again very soon," he said at a news conference on Monday previewing his side's home match with Fulham. 

    "Of course, he's not played as much as he'd like and that's a decision that we'll make with him. He's in charge of his own future and he's been such a good servant for the club. 

    "But of course, it's hard, as I've said so many times, to leave good players out, good people out of the team. 

    "It's about what does he want as his next step in his career? Is it still play out his career here, or is it going somewhere else? We haven't made a final decision yet."

    Mata's appearance in a much-changed United's 2-1 loss to Leicester City last week was just his fifth start of the season in the Premier League, not helped by injuries and family matters.

    Prior to that rare outing against the Foxes, Mata had played just two minutes of top-flight football for United in 2021, coming on as a late substitute in February's 3-1 win against Newcastle United.

    He has failed to score in the league since April 2019 but does have two assists in 2020-21, which equates to 0.42 per 90 minutes and is the best record of any United player to have played more than once this term.

    Bruno Fernandes is next on the list with 0.33 assists per 90 minutes, albeit over a far greater period of 36 games compared to Mata's eight.

    The 33-year-old also ranks highly for chances created, the Spaniard's 1.69 per 90 minutes behind only Luke Shaw (2.53) and Fernandes (2.81).

    Serie A side Lazio are reportedly the favourites to sign the former Valencia and Chelsea man should he depart Old Trafford in the coming weeks. 

  • Ter Stegen confirms he will miss Germany's Euro 2020 campaign Ter Stegen confirms he will miss Germany's Euro 2020 campaign

    Marc-Andre ter Stegen has confirmed he will miss Germany's Euro 2020 campaign after opting to undergo a "therapeutic procedure" on his knee.

    Sunday's LaLiga results – including Celta Vigo's shock win at Camp Nou – mean Barcelona can no longer win the title, with the club and Ter Stegen subsequently deciding to cut his season short.

    A brief statement released by the club revealed Ter Stegen will "undergo a therapeutic procedure on the patellar tendon in his right knee on Thursday May 20 in Malmo by Dr Hakan Alfredson and under the supervision of the club's medial services".

    While Barca did not outline a return date, Ter Stegen provided an update on his official Instagram account on Monday, confirming it means he will play no part at the delayed Euro 2020.

    "I'm disappointed about yesterday's defeat and that now we can no longer win La Liga," he wrote.

    "After a complicated start to the season, we showed good character going 19 matches unbeaten – but we weren't able to keep this form.

    "I have decided together with the medical team of the club that I will do a complementary intervention on my knee.

    "I'm sad that I will miss Euro 2020 this summer with Germany. For the first time in many years I will be a fan at home supporting my country, I hope we win it!

    "After the summer break, when we are back on the pitch I hope to be able to play with fans [in attendance] once again, I miss it!

    "Thank you for your support throughout a difficult season and stay healthy!"

    Ter Stegen has featured 31 times in the league in 2020-21 for Barcelona, but his overall performance for the season has not been quite up to the high standards he has set previously.

    He has conceded 32 goals from shots on target worth 29.07 expected goals on target (xGOT), meaning he has let in nearly three goals more than expected. Celta's first goal on Sunday came from a speculative Santi Mina shot worth just 0.04 xGOT.

    Ter Stegen's xGOT differential of -2.93 this term is by far his worst across a single season at the club. In 2015-16, it was -1.44, though he only played seven LaLiga matches, while his next worst was -0.16 in 2019-20, a narrow margin which essentially meant he conceded as many goals as would be expected given the quality of the shots on target he faced.

    But for this procedure the ex-Borussia Monchengladbach man certainly would have been a part of the Germany squad next month, though he would have been playing back-up to Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer.

     

    While Ter Stegen has let in more goals than he should have this season, Neuer has conceded 40 times in the Bundesliga from an xGOT value of 42.09, therefore preventing two goals in 2020-21.

    The Neuer or Ter Stegen debate has been a hot topic for Germany for a while now, though the data suggests that, at least this season, the Bayern star remains the safer option between the posts.

  • Martinez: Hazard's condition 'best he's had for a long time' Martinez: Hazard's condition 'best he's had for a long time'

    Roberto Martinez said Eden Hazard's condition is the best he's had for a long time after picking the Real Madrid forward in his 26-man squad for Euro 2020.

    Hazard features in the squad despite the former Chelsea star continuing to endure a difficult spell with Madrid.

    He has once again battled several injuries during the 2020-21 campaign, limiting him to just seven starts in 14 LaLiga appearances.

    Those appearances have resulted in three goals and a pair of assists, with Hazard creating six chances for his team-mates in the league.

    But Martinez is now satisfied with his fitness levels, with the focus for Hazard now on finishing the season strong for Madrid, who host Villarreal on Saturday knowing they must better Atletico Madrid's result at Real Valladolid to win LaLiga.

    Hazard played just 13 minutes in Sunday's 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao, touching the ball 18 times and without creating a single chance or having a shot at goal.

     

    But Martinez told a media conference: "The situation with him is we know exactly where he is, his condition is the best he's had for a long time.

    "The level of fitness is really satisfactory, we look also at how important he is for the national team. [It's] important he finishes the season strongly for Real Madrid." 

    There are few surprises in the Belgium squad, with Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, FA Cup final hero Youri Tielemans and Dries Mertens all selected.

    Divock Origi misses out after a season in which he has been involved in only nine Premier League games for Liverpool.

    De Bruyne's involvement in the Champions League final on May 29 will have no impact on their preparations for the rescheduled tournament, Martinez stressed.

    "The date we'll meet is the 31st May and we'll be preparing [for] two friendlies," he added. 

    "De Bruyne is [our] only player in the final and will be joining the squad on 7th June. Each player's individual needs are being catered for.

    "Each player will have the same break and perfect preparation for the tournament."

    Belgium begin their Euro 2020 campaign on June 12 against Russia in St Petersburg.
     

    Belgium squad in full:

    Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois, Simon Mignolet, Matz Sels.

    Defenders: Toby Alderweireld, Dedryck Boyata, Jason Denayer, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen.

    Wing-backs: Yannick Carrasco, Timothy Castagne, Nacer Chadli, Thorgan Hazard, Thomas Meunier.

    Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne, Leander Dendoncker, Dennis Praet, Youri Tielemans, Hans Vanaken, Axel Witsel.

    Forwards: Jeremy Doku, Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens, Leandro Trossard.

    Strikers: Michy Batshuayi, Christian Benteke, Romelu Lukaku.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.