Football

Neymar storms off Barca training

Barca star squares up against defender Semedo amid PSG speculation

Neymar stormed out of a bad-tempered Barcelona training session yesterday morning, fuelling speculation he could be about to force through a world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain.

The Brazilian star was training with his teammates in Miami when he was caught on video walking off the pitch after a bust-up with new signing Nelson Semedo.

The footage comes amid persistent rumours that PSG are prepared to pay a world-record fee of 222 million euros (S$353m) fee for the 25-year-old.

In the video, Neymar is seen jumping into a tackle with Semedo, a right back who signed for Barcelona from Benfica.

The duo square up against each other before Javier Mascherano steps in to separate the two men.

Semedo then walks away, although Neymar remains furious and has to be physically held back by Sergio Busquets.

Neymar then turns away, tearing off his training bib in disgust and storming off back to the dressing room.

He boots two footballs off the pitch in anger before being joined by a member of the Barcelona coaching staff.

The footage emerged one day before Barcelona and Real Madrid play out an El Clasico on foreign soil for the first time in over 35 years at a sold-out Hard Rock Stadium in Miami tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

It's also the first encounter between the two sides in the United States.

Back in 1982, the match staged post-season in Venezuela, coming just before that year's World Cup, was so nondescript it wasn't even shown on television in Europe.

Fast forward to 2017, this encounter has morphed into a huge global event which has gripped a football-mad city and ensured the now annual International Champions Cup exhibition tournament will remain a permanent fixture on the sporting calendar for years to come.

TV network ESPN has dispatched a crew of 25 reporters and presenters to south Florida to produce wall-to-wall coverage.

BLACK MARKET

The game has long since sold out - tickets on the black market are now costing upwards of US$900 (S$1,220) each - although only 30 per cent were bought by fans in the south Florida region, with the remainder being snapped up by the rest of the US as well as fans from 50 countries.

Football supporters from Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica and Honduras will all descend on the recently renovated home of the NFL's Miami Dolphins, while the city itself is basking in the glow of a fun-filled football festival.

Both teams are in the middle of pre-season preparations and have been travelling across the US for the past two weeks along with Manchester United, Manchester City, Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur.

Yet, the mouthwatering rivalry ensures that whenever Real and Barca meet, interest abounds.

The build-up has, invariably, been centred on transfer speculation both at the Nou Camp and the Bernabeu.

Neymar has been consistently linked with a world-record move to PSG, while Real are believed to be closing in on Monaco's young star Kylian Mbappe for a fee which could eclipse 180m euros.- WIRE SERVICES

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