Zone Blitz: Are Barcelona doing the right thing by trying to re-sign Neymar?

By George Davis, Mariah Ramharack&Lance Whittaker July 18, 2019

It's said you should never go back to your ex but Barcelona and Neymar could be a re-marriage made in heaven.

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  • Ter Stegen hits back at Neuer for 'inappropriate' Germany comments Ter Stegen hits back at Neuer for 'inappropriate' Germany comments

    Marc-Andre ter Stegen says it was "inappropriate" for Manuel Neuer to criticise him for speaking out about a desire for more game time for Germany.

    Barcelona goalkeeper Ter Stegen described it as a "massive blow" not to feature for his country against Netherlands and Northern Ireland in the international break.

    The 27-year-old has had to serve as back-up to Neuer for most of his international career, despite increasing calls for him to be given the number one spot ahead of the Bayern Munich star.

    Neuer accused Ter Stegen of being unhelpful by expressing his frustrations in public and suggested he had shown something of a lack of respect towards Bernd Leno and Kevin Trapp, who likewise are battling for more Germany playing time.

    Ter Stegen, who has returned to his homeland for Tuesday's Champions League clash between Barca and Borussia Dortmund, thinks Neuer has been unfair but wants to draw a line under the issue.

    He told a news conference: "I would like to say something about this. You cannot say we have competition for the goalkeeper position and then expect the players to be happy with the situation if they don't play. Football is about happiness but also disappointment.

    "Manuel Neuer does not need to comment on my personal feelings and measure them, I'd say. It's my own opinion. If you think about the last few years, you realise that I always behaved well and what Neuer and other people have said is not fair.

    "His remarks were inappropriate but I don't want to say much more. I want to end this controversy."

    Ter Stegen's immediate priority is to help sure up Barca's defence, with the Catalans having conceded seven goals in their opening four LaLiga games of 2019-20.

    "We're trying to stop the goals going in but things haven't come off," he said. "It's not what we expected. We have to improve. There have been mistakes that we can easily correct. We've spoken about it."

  • Messi looking good in training but Valverde remains wary of rushing back Barcelona star Messi looking good in training but Valverde remains wary of rushing back Barcelona star

    Lionel Messi has trained well in recent days but Ernesto Valverde remains wary of rushing him back into action when Barcelona face Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.

    The Argentina star has not featured this season due to a calf injury sustained in pre-season but was named in the travelling squad for Barca's opening Champions League group game at Signal Iduna Park.

    Valverde has been pleased with Messi's training performances but will not make a decision on whether his captain will start the match until closer to kick-off.

    "We'll decide before the game," he said. "It wasn't very clear a week ago if he could come, but he was with the team in the last few training sessions, finishing well, taking the fear of pain out of his mind. We'll see what we do."

    Whether or not Messi returns, Barca could well hand a Champions League debut to Ansu Fati, the 16-year-old who has taken LaLiga by storm this season.

    Fati became Barca's youngest ever league goalscorer against Osasuna last month and marked his full Camp Nou debut on Saturday with a goal and an assist in the first seven minutes of the 5-2 thrashing of Valencia.

    "I've not spoken with him, save for tactical matters," Valverde admitted. "I don't like the history of giving advice. Of course I will talk with him, but you have to give him some breathing space.

    "What he is doing is exceptional. If he plays, it's not so he can break a record, but because of the needs of the team. We love him."

    Barca have only lost one of their past 28 group-stage matches but are under huge pressure to perform this season after collapsing in the semi-finals to throw away a 3-0 first-leg lead over Liverpool.

    Valverde believes Dortmund will offer a good litmus test for his side, as he looks to put the disappointment of the 4-0 loss at Anfield and the dramatic quarter-final exit to Roma the year before behind him.

    "I expect a rival of the highest level, a challenger for everything in their country and in Europe, and a good yardstick for us," he said.

    "It's a competition in which one bad day can knock you out, even if you have had a great competition until that moment. The two teams in the final last year [Liverpool and Tottenham] lost more games than we did. You can't neglect even 10 minutes."

    Tuesday's game will see Barca come up against Paco Alcacer, who has flourished since leaving Barca initially on loan in 2018.

    "Alcacer is a great player and he's showing that for Dortmund and the national team," Valverde said. "He's playing regularly with Dortmund. What we know about him is both an advantage and a disadvantage."

  • Messi challenge is what Dortmund want – Reus Messi challenge is what Dortmund want – Reus

    Lionel Messi was named in Barcelona's squad for Tuesday's Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund and Marco Reus hopes the forward is fit to play.

    Dortmund host LaLiga champions Barca in their Group F opener, with Messi in contention to make his first appearance of the season.

    The Argentine superstar has missed Barca's opening four LaLiga fixtures with a calf problem but has been included in Ernesto Valverde's squad despite the coach suggesting on Friday the 32-year-old would not be ready in time. 

    It remains to be seen whether Messi will be able to start, though Dortmund captain Reus is hopeful the diminutive talisman does make an appearance as the Bundesliga side aim to test themselves against the best Europe has to offer.

    "We want Messi to play, but we cannot influence what tomorrow will look like," Germany international Reus told a media conference on Monday. 

    "We do not want to talk that much about the opponent. Everyone knows that he is the best, but we play at home and want to win.

    "A difficult game awaits us. We have to be careful and will we have to suffer a lot in the game. We have to be brave and play our game, put ourselves forward and then hope to score goals."

    Paco Alcacer could be key for Dortmund as the Spain striker goes up against his former club for the first time.

    Alcacer spent two seasons at Camp Nou, struggling to secure a regular spot following a move from fellow LaLiga club Valencia.

    The 26-year-old enjoyed a fantastic maiden season at Dortmund, scoring 18 Bundesliga goals in 26 outings, and has netted five times in four league appearances this term.

    Reus is backing the striker – who accused "many people" at Barca of treating him badly during his stint in Catalonia – to impress against his former employers.

    "I've talked to him a few times. He is calm," said Reus. "Of course, he is looking forward to it because he has spent nice years there, even if he had not too much game time.

    "I hope he can help us in the game. He is an important player. He plays smart on the pitch, he knows where the next man is.

    "He is an ice-cold top scorer who does not need many chances, his statistics are outstanding. But even for him there is room for improvement, as with any player."

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