As Manchester United’s search for a marquee signing continues, Barcelona are becoming ever more nervous about the situation surrounding their star asset Neymar. The Brazilian striker has become subjected to surprise transfer rumours linking him with United. The Red Devils are thought to have received encouraging signs from Neymar’s camp that he would consider a move to Old Trafford. The speculation has only mounted after Luis Enrique failed to comment about the striker following his team’s 1-0 narrow victory over Athletic Bilbao.
Barcelona started the new league campaign with the win, but it was not convincing by any means. Luis Suarez scored the only goal of the game in which Lionel Messi also missed a penalty. Barcelona were largely wasteful with their chances and the Catalan club will have to improve a lot in order to retain the league title. Luis Enrique’s tactics were a breath of fresh air last season, but Bilbao have got the better out of him in recent weeks. Even though they could not sustain the mighty 4-0 win over the Catalan club in the Super Cup, they came very close to producing a shock on the opening day. Luis Enrique said:
“It doesn’t interest me to talk about rumours, nor these types of situations. I only want to focus on what’s happened to my team.
“Overall, I’m satisfied. We created chances, a lot more than our opponents. Towards the end it got tough for us, of course, because the score was so close.
“The wing-backs were very good, especially Sergio Roberto, who came in unexpectedly and played a very complete match. Jordi Alba too.”
The situation surrounding Neymar will be especially hard to take for Barcelona fans. The club had gone to great lengths in order to bring the player. Sandro Rosell even had to pay a huge price by losing his presidency post. The transfer fees paid Santos and the signing bonuses for the player are believed to have taken the cost well beyond the £75 million mark. Even if Barcelona were to sell the 23-year-old, they would ideally be looking at a new transfer record fee.
Yet, there is also a feeling at the Camp Nou that Neymar is simply using the interest from United to earn a handsome contract. Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos employed similar tactics in order to secure a five-year deal at the age of 29. Neymar and Barcelona have been reportedly in talks over a new contract, which would see him stay at the Camp Nou until 2020. It remains to be seen if this interest from United will change the outcome. Interestingly, United had failed to sign Pedro, who signed for just £21 million with Premier League rivals Chelsea.
Neymar reportedly missed the opening game of the season due to mumps. Barcelona’s next game is against Malaga.