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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  • Valverde hails 'historic' Pedro as talk of Barcelona return builds Valverde hails 'historic' Pedro as talk of Barcelona return builds

    Ernesto Valverde has described Pedro as an "historic" Barcelona player after the Chelsea winger claimed he would like to return to Camp Nou.

    Pedro told Ser Catalunya this week that he would love to go back to the club where he won 20 major trophies, including five LaLiga titles and three Champions Leagues, between 2008 and 2015.

    The 32-year-old has only played four times in the Premier League under Frank Lampard this season and, with his contract expiring at the end of the season, it has been suggested the Spain international could be allowed to leave next month.

    Speaking to reporters on Friday, Barca coach Valverde said of Pedro: "He's an historic Barca player - let's not kid ourselves. He's one of the players to win the most titles with this club, but he plays for another club now.

    "We have to respect players at other clubs. We'll see what might happen in the future."

    The futures of two Barca midfielders are also uncertain ahead of the opening of the transfer window, with Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal each linked with moves to Serie A.

    Rakitic struggled for game time early in the season and even admitted his situation was causing him to fall out of love with football, although he has impressed in the recent run of victories over Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, Real Mallorca and Inter.

    "He's playing well, as is everybody else," Valverde said of the Croatia midfielder. "We're in a clinical time of the season and we've found some good form.

    "When it's the summer window, people start asking what happens, then you get to breathe a bit and then it's the winter market.

    "We have to deal with the challenges we have with the players we have. Rakitic has missed lots of games but he's playing more games now, and if he's doing that, it's because he's playing well."

    Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta confirmed after his side's defeat to Barca that Vidal was of interest to them, but Valverde was vague on his plans for the player.

    "How can I respond to information that comes or doesn't come from us? This information came from Inter. They will know," he added.

    "In our case, the market has not yet opened. Arturo is our player and we'll need him if we think it convenient."

  • Messi the best of his time, not all time – Ronaldinho Messi the best of his time, not all time – Ronaldinho

    Lionel Messi can certainly be considered the best player of his era but Brazil great and former Barcelona team-mate Ronaldinho does not think he is the greatest of all time.

    Messi won a record sixth Ballon d'Or earlier this month, taking him ahead of long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

    While the Juventus star has shown signs of decline over the past year or so at 34, Messi – two years his junior – continues to sparkle in LaLiga with Barca.

    Despite missing a chunk of the early-season action through injury, Messi already leads the scoring charts in Spain's top flight with 12 goals from just nine starts – Karim Benzema has 11 from 14.

    The Argentina star's form has been particularly impressive over the past six weeks, netting 13 times in 10 games for club and country, most recently hitting a hat-trick in Barca's 5-2 triumph over Real Mallorca.

    But Ronaldinho, who spent the best part of four years as Messi's team-mate, is uneasy about suggestions the forward is the greatest to ever play the sport.

    Speaking at a charity event in Mexico, Ronaldinho said: "I'm glad for Messi because he's a friend, aside from the fact he's been a leader of Barcelona.

    "I don't like comparisons because it's hard to identify who is the best in history. There's Diego Maradona, Pele, Ronaldo.

    "I can't say that Messi is the best ever, but he is the best in his time."

  • Neymar's father denies Bartomeu rift over lingering Barcelona lawsuit Neymar's father denies Bartomeu rift over lingering Barcelona lawsuit

    Neymar's ongoing legal action against Barcelona has not harmed his relationship with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, according to the player's father.

    Ex-Barca star Neymar initiated a lawsuit against his former employers soon after joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2017.

    The dispute over a €26million unpaid loyalty bonus remains before the courts but, on Thursday, Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo claimed the 27-year-old had filed a new €3.5m claim.

    Neymar Sr addressed the matter in a radio interview and said it was "nothing new" as he expressed confidence a settlement would be reached.

    "It's a thing from the past, when Neymar left Barcelona," he told COPE. "We always want to reach an agreement, it is better for everyone. Barcelona are not worried about this and neither are we."

    The legal friction further complicated Neymar's recent attempt to secure a move back to Camp Nou, which failed to materialise.

    Lionel Messi admitted some at the club opposed the attacker's return but Neymar Sr insisted there was no bad blood between the Selecao star and Bartomeu, who has since ruled out a January approach.

    "We have never had a bad relationship with Bartomeu," Neymar Sr said, before adding: "We don't know anything about the future.

    "Neymar has a contract with the PSG. He is happy."

    Neymar is in his third season with Ligue 1 side PSG, having spent four at LaLiga champions Barca following his arrival in Spain from Santos.

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