Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has stated he expects Neymar to renew his contract at the Camp Nou.
The Blaugrana boss was speaking to the assembled media on Tuesday ahead of his team’s clash against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, and he was asked whether he can see the Brazilian signing on for more years in Catalonia.
“I think so, yes,” was Enrique’s response, per Sergi Diaz of AS. Neymar has two-and-a-half years left on his current deal with the club.
It does seem to be inevitable that Neymar will extend his deal with the Blaugrana, having become a crucial part of the side since his move from Santos.
The man himself told reporters in November, per Joe Wright of Goal.com, he wants to commit his future to the club, while Barcelona technical secretary Robert Fernandez told RAC1 (h/t Sky Sports) he has “no doubt” an extension will be penned soon.
The Brazil international has previously been linked with a move to Manchester United, having admitted to ESPN Brazil (h/t Sky Sports) there was contact from the Premier League giants. However, as we can see here, Neymar is really enjoying his football at the Camp Nou:
Indeed, alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, not only is Neymar currently playing with some of the best footballers in the world, he’s also in a team which is sweeping all before them in terms of trophies, having won five last year. Looking ahead, it’d be a huge surprise if he was to give that up.
Aside from his star man’s contract, Enrique was asked about another recent flashpoint involving Cristiano Ronaldo, after the Real Madrid talisman appeared to kick out at Real Betis’ Francisco Molinero in their clash at the weekend.
“I’m not going to enter into that; whatever I say could be misinterpreted,” said Enrique when asked whether Ronaldo should face disciplinary action for the kick. “The authorities can change the rules if they want.”
Here’s a look at the incident:
It’s not the only incident of this type involving Ronaldo during the 2015-16 season. In his previous match the Portuguese forward was also seen swinging a leg at Sporting Gijon’s Nacho Cases. Spanish football expert Sergi Dominguez feels some kind of punishment would be appropriate:
Sergi Domínguez @FutbolSergi
Just saw the incident of Cristiano last night. Disgraceful. Ronaldo could murder a player and LFP wouldn't do a thing. Enough of this.2016-1-25 09:08:34
Enrique also looked ahead to the upcoming clash with Athletic Club, as Barca seek to defend one of the three trophies they won last season.
The holders take a 2-1 advantage back to the Camp Nou and, with Atletico Madrid to come in a league clash at the weekend, Enrique was asked if there was a chance of complacency creeping in ahead of another big game:
The key game for us right now is this one against Athletic. Who knows what will happen in the games we have coming up later—it’s the future and the future is unknown. ...
Excessive confidence won’t be a problem as we already know what difficulties we’ll be up against, as we are every time we play Athletic. Even if they hadn’t grabbed a late goal in the first leg, the tie would still have been wide open. The idea is to win tomorrow’s game and be the better side on the night; that way, we can avoid any complications.
Enrique also revealed Neymar, despite missing the game against Malaga, will be fit to feature in this one: “He’s fine. There’s no risk playing him. He’s been training and he’s in perfect conditions.”
However, the manager didn't have similarly good news in the cases of Arda Turan, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta, who he revealed are all doubtful with a virus.
It’s going to be a crucial few days in Barcelona’s season. They are in a strong position heading into the second leg of this quarter-final, but have endured difficult matches against Athletic Club previously. As Enrique notes, should this team take their eye off the ball, they could easily be eliminated by a very handy outfit.
There will be some eyes on the weekend’s showdown with Atletico, though. Barca currently have a game in hand over Diego Simeone’s side and a win in that fixture would give their title rivals a mountain to climb in the remaining weeks of the season. But it's important they remain in three competitions come full-time on Wednesday.