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Former Barcelona Director Toni Freixa on Neymar Speculation: 'I Hope It's a Lie'

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2019

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar takes part in a training session in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris, on August 17, 2019, on the eve of the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Rennes. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

Former Barcelona director Toni Freixa has said he is surprised by the club's interest in Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar and that he doesn't want to see the player return for a second spell at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona have until 2 September to complete a deal for Neymar in the current window. If the switch was to go ahead, it would see the 27-year-old head back to the club just two years on from a world-record move to France.

After Blaugrana director Javier Bordas said on Tuesday that the club was "closer" to completing a deal for Neymar, Freixa said he is staggered by the team's desire to re-sign the player, per Radio Marca (h/t Marca).

"What we're closer to doing is jeopardising the sports project and economic stability," he said. "I don't understand what interests are at stake, but those of Barcelona surely aren't. I'm dumbfounded by all of this. I don't understand anything. I hope it's a lie."

In addition to being a former director at the Camp Nou, Freixa ran against current Barcelona chief Josep Maria Bartomeu for club president in 2015.

The imminent end of the 2019 summer transfer market was always going to prompt more talk about Neymar and it appears Barcelona are making significant strides towards what would be an extraordinary deal.

Bordas told reporters the transfer was moving forward having returned from Paris alongside Barcelona chief executive Oscar Grau and technical secretary Eric Abidal. Per The Spanish Football Podcast, one man dominated the Spanish press on Wednesday:

The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast

@alexkirkland More on today's 🇪🇸⚽️ frontpages: 🗞️ Marca: "Another twist: now Barça, really close!" 🗞️ As: "Neymar heats up" 🗞️ Mundo Deportivo: "Neymar, closer" 🗞️ Sport: "Close!" Here's the #tsfp Morning Paper Review for patrons ➡️ https://t.co/L1O4TQCKXd https://t.co/OCHOwKoY2L

According to Le Parisien (h/t B/R Football), PSG are open to doing a deal for Neymar should Barcelona offer them Ousmane Dembele, Nelson Semedo and €100 million (£90 million):

B/R Football @brfootball

PSG are willing to sell Neymar to Barcelona in return for Ousmane Dembele, Nelson Semedo and €100m, according to @le_Parisien https://t.co/OqtBs4reTX

While Neymar is a world-class footballer when fit, some will consider the pursuit of the player to be a luxury one from Barcelona.

After all, there are other areas of their squad where the money could arguably be better spent, most notably in the centre-back and right-back positions. 

They have already added quality to their attack this summer, with Antoine Griezmann arriving from Atletico Madrid to offer support to Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. The France international showed how effective he can be on Sunday too, scoring twice in his Camp Nou debut against Real Betis:

LaLiga @LaLigaEN

💙🌟❤ @AntoGriezmann announced himself as an @FCBarcelona player with two goals tonight! All the highlights from a 7-goal thriller in #BarçaRealBetis... 👇 https://t.co/23xjYJfXQR

Given Messi and Suarez are both 32 years old, it's important Barcelona begin to think about the future. It's perhaps with that in mind that they've launched a serious pursuit of Neymar despite the addition of Griezmann.

However, the cost of bringing Neymar back to the club looks set to be enormous and does not come without risk, given the player's struggles with injury at PSG. With that in mind, it's no shock that some, with Freixa among them, think this is a deal the club would be better off avoiding.