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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.”
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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.