Football

Valverde dismisses talk of Neymar return

Barca coach insists it's just fantasy, Madrid newspaper says superstar's father is in talks with Real

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has dismissed reports suggesting Neymar could leave Paris Saint-Germain and return to the Catalan giant as “fantasy”.

In the same week that PSG crashed out of the Champions League, and only seven months after he joined the club for a world record 222 million euros (S$359.7 million), Neymar´s future has grown uncertain.

Spanish sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo claims the Brazilian, recovering from surgery on a broken foot in Brazil, has made contact with Barca to ask how he can engineer a return.

The article adds Neymar has explained he made a mistake in leaving the club, was wrong to want independence from Lionel Messi and has been disappointed by the standard of opposition in Ligue 1.

Asked about the reports, Valverde said: “It seems to me a fantasy and we do not know where it came from or where it will end.

“It is a fantasy and we are not going to speak about rumours when we know it would not end here.”

Barca, however, are not the only club Neymar is reportedly targeting as a potential way out of PSG.

Madrid-based newspaper AS reports Neymar´s father has met with Real Madrid, who are ready to pay 400 million euros to sign the striker.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane said: “Neymar could play in all the clubs because he is very good, like many players.

“I´m not going to talk about a player that is not mine. On the 400 million, they paid 220 million and when they bought me they paid 72.

“It seemed crazy to me and 10 years later they are paying 220 million. It may well be that in the next 10 years someone will pay 400m, or sooner, I do not know.”

Mundo Deportivo concedes Neymar´s courting of Barcelona may even be a tactic to justify a move to Real, given the Catalan club are likely to reject any chance to re-sign the 26-year-old.

Barcelona are still embroiled in a financial dispute over a bonus due to Neymar last summer, which the club cancelled when they believe it became clear he was moving to PSG.

Neymar missed PSG’s last-16 loss to Real on Tuesday after undergoing surgery on a broken foot in Brazil last week. – AFP

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