Football

Barca coach reiterates wish to keep Brazilian superstar

Neymar gave Barcelona fans a dazzling reminder of what they could be about to lose yesterday morning (Singapore time), scoring twice as the Spanish giants defeated Juventus 2-1 in a pre-season friendly.

The 25-year-old Brazilian superstar is at the centre of frenzied speculation linking him to a gargantuan, world record 222-million euro (S$354m) transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

Neymar had kept the guessing game about his future bubbling away after posting a picture of himself looking pensive on Instagram on Friday.

But there was little to suggest that the charismatic striker is overwhelmed by the transfer saga as he produced a bewitching performance in front of a sell-out 82,104 crowd at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

After the match, Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde was quick to repeat his desire to keep the Brazilian, who departed the stadium without addressing reporters.

"We want Neymar to be with us," he said. "We know his value on the pitch and what he brings to the locker room."

The Brazilian fired the Catalan side into the lead in the 15th minute, playing a clever one-two with Paco Alcacer and drilling his finish past Gianluigi Buffon.

Eleven minutes later, he grabbed his second, picking his way through a static Juventus defence before burying a low shot beyond Buffon once more.

Giorgio Chiellini nodded home Paulo Dybala's cross to reduce the deficit for Juventus in the second half. - AFP

We know his value on the pitch and what he brings to the locker room. Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde
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