‘Neymar didn’t join Barca for money’: Vilanova

Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova has expressed his delight at the club's €50 million capture of Brazilian international Neymar.

'Neymar didn't join Barca for money': Vilanova
The Catalan club confirmed on Sunday that the 21-year-old will join them on a five-year contract in a deal that is expected to cost €50 million. Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP

The Catalan club confirmed on Sunday that the 21-year-old will join them on a five-year contract in a deal that is expected to cost the Spanish champions around €50 million ($65m, £43m) and Vilanova hailed the player for not choosing the option to earn more money at other clubs.

"We have to congratulate the secretarial team for the signing of Neymar," he said at a press conference after Barca's 2-0 defeat of Espanyol on Sunday night.

"He is a significant signing and we have been very aware of him for a long time because we knew he could receive better offers from others.

"I also congratulate Neymar for choosing a sporting project and not an economic one. I have confidence that he is going to do well in Europe and he is going to help us be better."

And Vilanova also dismissed claims that Neymar is more of a flashy player, more capable of eye-catching flicks and tricks than delivering effectively for the team.

"If they say Neymar is a Youtube player that is a good thing because he scores great goals and makes great plays," he added.

"He has chosen Barcelona because he thinks he can adapt well to this style of play. It is a dream to have a striker like this. The more better players we have, the better our chances will be of winning.

"Now we have to combine everyone in the best way, like we have done in the past."

Barca's victory in the Catalan derby also eased them to within three points of Real Madrid's record 100 points tally from last season, a record that Vilanova is now keen to match when they host Malaga next weekend.

"When I started to hear about this record we were very far away from it and it was best not to talk about these things.

"Now we are just one game, one victory away and we have to try and do it."

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Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?

Around 10,000 people demonstrated against the expansion of the El Prat airport in Barcelona on Sunday.

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?
People march during a demonstration against the expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

Several ecological and agricultural organisations, have demanded that the expansion be stopped due to the fact nearby wetlands and farms would have to be destroyed.

The demonstration took place on Calle Tarragona in the Catalan capital between Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça dels Països Catalans.

The protests still took place, even though last week, Spain suspended the €1.7 billion airport expansion project, citing differences with the Catalan government, after president Pere Aragonès said he wanted to avoid destroying La Ricarda lagoon, a natural reserve next to the airport. 

Environmentalists decided not to call off the march, in case plans for the airport expansion still went ahead.

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about Barcelona airport’s €1.7 billion planned expansion

Political representatives from ERC, En Comú Podem and the CUP also attended, as well as the leader of Más País, Íñigo Errejón; the Deputy Mayor for Ecology of the Barcelona City Council, Janet Sanz, and the Mayor of El Prat de Llobregat, Lluís Mijoler.

People from neighbourhoods across the city marched towards Calle Tarragona and could be seen holding placards that read Nature yes, airport no and shouting slogans such as “More courgettes and fewer planes” and “Fighting for the climate, health, and life”. 

One of the largest groups of people were those from El Prat de Llobregat, the municipality which is home to the airport, who were led by tractors. 

People march during a demonstration against the expansion of Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

In addition to protesting against the expansion of the El Prat airport, people were also demonstrating against the Winter Olympic Games in the Pyrenees and extensions to airports in Mallorca and Madrid. 

A representative of Zeroport, Sara Mingorría said “We are here to defend not only La Ricarda, but the entire Delta”. 

The philosopher Marina Garcés also argued that the expansion of the airport would mean “more borders, more mass tourism, more control and more precarious jobs.” 

The leader of the commons in the Catalan parliament, Jéssica Albiach, who also attended the protest, asked the PSOE for “coherence”: “You cannot be passing a law against climate change and, at the same time, defend the interests of Aena [the airport operations company]”, she said. 

She also urged the leader of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, to “definitely say no. 

If the airport expansion in Barcelona goes ahead, environmentalists say that CO2 emissions would rise by a minimum of 33 percent. These levels would surpass the limits set by the Catalan government’s climate targets.