Neymar Absent from Training, PSG Ready to Receive Offers Amid Barcelona Rumours

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2019

TOPSHOT - Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar celebrates with the champion's trophy at the end of the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Dijon at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on May 18, 2019. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

PSG have promised to take "appropriate action" after Neymar failed to report for preseason training "without the club's prior authorisation."

Sporting director Leonardo has admitted there have been "very superficial contacts" from Barcelona, with Les Parisiens willing to sell if they receive the right offer.

In a statement on the team's official website, the Ligue 1 champions expressed regret Neymar wasn't in attendance on Monday: "Paris Saint-Germain notes that Neymar Jr was not in attendance at the agreed time and place."

Neymar's father has told Fox Sports Brasil (h/t ESPN FC's Jonathan Johnson) PSG were aware his son wouldn't be returning Monday. The player had been in attendance to watch Brazil beat Peru 3-1 in the 2019 Copa America final in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.

Jonathan Johnson @Jon_LeGossip

Neymar's father has claimed that PSG knew that his son would not be back in Paris until July 15 because of commitments in Brazil. https://t.co/TdCFQHmK17

However, Leonardo has confirmed Barcelona's interest to Le Parisien (h/t Johnson), and he said the club will listen to offers for the Brazil international:

Jonathan Johnson @Jon_LeGossip

PSG sporting director Leonardo: “Neymar can leave if an offer arrives that suits everybody. We have not received an offer. What is true is that there has been very superficial contact (with Barcelona).” #FCB #Barca https://t.co/4TuzpxIrcg

Leonardo also told Le Parisien (h/t Goal) how Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu has been in touch: "They said they wanted to buy but we were not sellers. [Bartomeu] is the one saying it, but we did not see that Barcelona was really in a buyer position."

Neymar has reportedly told Barca he is "desperate" to exit the French capital and return to the Camp Nou, according to Sport's Joaquim Piera.

Reuniting with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez along the Barcelona forward line would likely appeal to Neymar. The trio helped the Catalan club win La Liga, the Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League in 2015.

Even so, the 27-year-old hasn't been short of success since moving to the Parc des Princes for a world-record transfer fee back in 2017. He's won the Ligue 1 title in both of his seasons with PSG, as well as the Coupe de France and the Coupe de la Ligue.

Football Whispers @FB_WHISPERS

#PSG may be open to selling #Neymar, but you can’t argue with his numbers 👏 https://t.co/S1lh1mpYLI

Yet for all the trophies, Neymar's time in Paris has also had its challenges. Further success has eluded him in the Champions League, with Les Parisiens falling to Real Madrid in 2018 and Manchester United last season.

Injuries have also been an issue, with Neymar missing several months this year due to a broken metatarsal.

Rumours of a return to Spain have lingered throughout Neymar's time in France, and PSG sound like a club growing tired of the brewing saga. Club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi telling France Football (h/t Vaishali Bhardwaj of the London Evening Standard) last month: "Nobody forced him (Neymar) to sign here. Nobody pushed him to. He came with a fully understanding of the cause to sign up to a project."

PSG's promise to punish Neymar for missing the start of preparations for the new campaign can be read as a further attempt to prove the biggest superstar in the team isn't above the club.

Taking a hardline could be Leonardo's way of controlling his countryman:

🔴⚫ Rich Allen 🔴⚫ @rich_allen85

Leonardo: https://t.co/TQkDHqw1Ln

The more Neymar and PSG seem at odds, the more rumours of a move to Barcelona will grow. Barca are expected to sign Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid for €120 million, although the buying club wants to pay in instalments, per Sport's Toni Frieros.

Signing both Griezmann and Neymar in the same summer would be a tough needle to thread financially, even for a club with Barcelona's spending power. The more Neymar becomes alienated in Paris, the more he may tempt Barca to make a choice between prime summer targets.


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