Updates from Saturday, Aug. 30
Barcelona announced Neymar's fitness for today's match against Villarreal:
Neymar has been declared fully fit and has been included in the team of 18 that will travel to Villarreal on Sunday. But Andrés Iniesta is left out due to trouble with his left knee. The Medical Services are currently working to determine the extent of the injury.
Updates from Thursday, Aug. 28
Neymar is back in full training as he nears completion in his recovery from a sprained ankle.
Barcelona's official website announced:
Barça have continued preparing for the second game of the league season against Villarreal. And following the good news on Wednesday that Adriano is back to full fitness, today Thursday another Brazilian, Neymar Jr, was able to train normally for the first time since spraining his ankle in training on August 21.
Updates from Tuesday, Aug. 26
Neymar began to do some solo work as he stepped up his recovery from an ankle problem on Tuesday.
Barcelona's official website reported:
The FC Barcelona senior squad were back in action today after taking a day off following the 3-0 defeat of Elche. Manager Luis Enrique Martínez took charge of today’s session with a group of 23 players.
Ter Stegen, Neymar and Vermaelen made a welcome appearance on the training grounds but worked out separately from the main group.
Updates from Sunday, Aug. 24
Barcelona announced Neymar's status on their official website:
Neymar is recovering well from his ankle injury but will miss tonight’s league opener.
New FC Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has been dealt a major blow on the eve of the new season. Pacy forward Neymar has sustained an ankle injury in training and looks guaranteed to miss their opening match.
FCBarcelona.com confirmed Neymar has suffered a Grade 1 ankle sprain:
Following the Thursday training session Neymar Jr. complained about some pain in his left ankle, and tests have confirmed that the player has a Grade 1 ankle sprain. The Club's medical team has indicated that his return to training will depend on how the injury treatment evolves.
No initial prognosis on the length of Neymar's absence has been given, but the injury certainly creates more problems for Enrique up front.
He will already be without marquee summer arrival Luis Suarez. The controversial and mercurial Uruguayan is serving a ban for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, a punishment recently upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, per Sky Sports.
The suspension meant Enrique was likely counting on Neymar to support talisman Lionel Messi. Now there's even greater pressure on Messi, particularly after the club sold Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez to Arsenal this summer.
Neymar's injury could mean a first-team revival for marginalised figure Pedro Rodriguez. However, the 27-year-old is currently sidelined with illness, per the English edition of Marca:
Three days before Luis Enrique's Barcelona side play their league opener against Elche, striker Pedro Rodríguez is still not training with his teammates due to a bout of gastroenteritis.
Pedro has not trained all week. He did not play in the Joan Gamper Trophy against Mexican outfit Leon due to the illness, and his presence in the Barcelona manager's squad for next Saturday's game against Elche is now in jeopardy.
Losing Pedro's pace, clever movement and finishing guile, along with Neymar's injury is a bitter double blow ahead of Barca's La Liga opener. But Enrique will soon need Pedro to help cover gaps along his depleted forward line.
Enrique will also need Messi, who played in the final of the World Cup with Argentina, to shake off any lethargy and be as fresh as possible.
However, with Pedro ailing and Messi still likely to carry some physical toll from his exertions in Brazil, Enrique could turn to some young talents. Chief among them is likely to be Munir El Haddadi.
The 18-year-old Barca B forward netted twice in the Joan Gamper Trophy win over Club Leon. He's certainly a prospect who bears watching.
Interestingly, the report in Marca suggests utility attacking midfielder Rafinha Alcantara as a possible emergency inclusion to the forward line. That would represent a pure stop-gap measure from Enrique.
The new Barca boss needs a fast start to keep pace with Madrid powerhouses Real and defending champions Atletico. Both have restocked this summer and appear stronger.
As for Neymar, it's a tough way to begin his second season with the Catalan club. He didn't exactly thrill Barca fans last season and much more will be expected from the Brazilian ace this term.
He needs to quickly regain his fitness and begin proving his credentials as a credible supporting partner for Messi.