Ernesto Valverde Downplays Rumours on Neymar Returning to Barcelona

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2019

VALENCIA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 16: Ernesto Valverde, Manager of Barcelona looks on prior to the La Liga match between Levante UD and FC Barcelona at Ciutat de Valencia on December 16, 2018 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Ernesto Valverde has denied reports that Neymar could be returning to Barcelona.

El Mundo (h/t Goal's Jack Davies) recently reported Neymar's father has been in touch with the Blaugrana asking them to take his son back.

The Brazilian superstar departed the Camp Nou for Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 in a world-record £200 million deal.

There have been rumours ever since of a potential return to Barca, but Valverde said the latest reports are untrue, per Davies:

"People tend to say big things about players at other clubs. He is a great player, had a great World Cup, but now he's at a different club, so there's nothing more to say about that. It's not a question of Neymar phoning... nobody has phoned me. News stories always appear in the press. He's a PSG player and we respect PSG.

One of the key reasons PSG invested so much money in signing Neymar was to help them win the UEFA Champions League.

Per Goal's Robin Bairner, had PSG crashed out of the tournament in the group stage this year—as was a possibility ahead of their November defeat of Liverpool—it would have been "the catalyst to bring Neymar’s time in France to an end."

PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 09:  Neymar Jr of Paris Saint-Germain celebrates his goal during the French Cup match between Paris Saint Germain and EA Guingamp at Parc des Princes on January 9, 2019 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images)
Xavier Laine/Getty Images

The same will be true in March if PSG fail to get past Manchester United in the last 16, and perhaps even with any other result than the French giants going all the way this year.

Their record since returning to the Champions League is abject for a club of PSG's financial clout.

Four consecutive quarter-final exits from 2012-13 were followed by last-16 exits in 2016-17 and 2017-18.

That trend cannot continue this year, and anything other than progress to at least the semi-finals in 2018-19 would signal failure for Thomas Tuchel's side, even though they look set to win Ligue 1 at a canter.

Meanwhile, if Barca go on to win the Champions League Neymar could well be tempted by the prospect of a return.

As it stands, the 26-year-old remains a PSG player and it would be a huge shock if he left in the January transfer window.

However, Valverde could yet be receiving phone calls on the matter in the summer if PSG fail again in the Champions League. 

Related

    Man Utd Player Ratings 📊

    Daniel James struggled on first start

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Man Utd Player Ratings 📊

    Daniel James struggled on first start

    via men

    Report: Juve Make Neymar Bid 👀

    Italian champions offer Dybala plus 'close to $110M/€100M' (AS)

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Report: Juve Make Neymar Bid 👀

    Italian champions offer Dybala plus 'close to $110M/€100M' (AS)

    AS.com
    via AS.com

    Barca's Ousmane Dembele Out 5 Weeks

    Could miss opening Champions League matches

    World Football logo
    World Football

    Barca's Ousmane Dembele Out 5 Weeks

    Could miss opening Champions League matches

    James Dudko
    via Bleacher Report

    Barcelona to Make Neymar Loan Offer

    Paris Saint-Germain FC logo
    Paris Saint-Germain FC

    Barcelona to Make Neymar Loan Offer

    Tom Sunderland
    via Bleacher Report