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Did Neymar signal move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain with pensive Instagram pose?

Neymar's decision to post a photo of himself in thoughtful contemplation sparked a fresh wave of speculation that he is on the verge of sealing a world record €222 million ($256.8 million) move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain.

Did Neymar signal move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain with pensive Instagram pose?
Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar leaves the field after a training session at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey on Thursday, a day before their match against Juventus FC. PHOTO: JEWEL SAMAD / AFP
The Instagram picture, even accompanied by a matching emoji, shows the 25-year-old Brazilian superstar stretched out on the pitch with his chin resting on his left hand.
 
 

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It garnered more than 1.5 million 'likes' within 12 hours of it being posted in the United States where Barcelona are on a pre-season tour.
 
Three of the 'likes' came from PSG players — winger Angel Di Maria, goalkeeper Kevin Trapp and midfielder Marco Verratti.
 
French newspaper Le Parisien fuelled speculation on Friday with an unsourced report that Neymar had told several Barcelona teammates of his intentions to join PSG, adding that the transfer is considered a done deal by some Barcelona players.
 
That echoes media company Esporte Interativo's insistence that an agreement has been reached for Neymar to move to the French capital from Barcelona, where he has played since 2013.
 
On Tuesday, PSG skipper — and fellow Brazilian — Thiago Silva gave a digital thumbs up to a mocked-up photo montage published by Esporte Interativo showing Neymar in a PSG shirt along with compatriots and prospective teammates in France.
 
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde described the ongoing saga as a “time of rumours”.
 
“We understand it's how it is. He is with us right now, one of us,” said Valverde in East Rutherford where his team plays Juventus in a pre-season friendly on Saturday.
 
That match will give Neymar a chance to display his coveted skills for the first time this summer.
 
“He's a player we love and we want,” Valverde said. “Not only football-wise, but also for the things he brings to the locker room. There's no need to worry about something we don't know if it's going to happen or not. If it happens in the future, we'll see.”
 
PSG skipper Thiago Silva told Le Parisien he had no idea if the Brazilian star was about to switch to the French capital.
 
“I don't know. I hear a lot from journalists and a player like Neymar would be an interesting addition to the PSG project,” said Thiago, speaking in Florida — where the French club takes on Tottenham in a friendly on Saturday.
 
“But, for the moment, it is especially important to prepare for the new season. After and if Neymar arrives it would be a good thing for the squad.”
 
Is Neymar going to sign? “Not yet,” smiled the captain.
 
'The future of the club'
 
In Spain, it was reported by Catalan media group RAC 1 that “certain players” at Barcelona have already tried to convince Neymar not to accept the PSG offer which would dwarf the €105 million Manchester United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba.
 
Javier Mascherano said Neymar was “the future” of Barcelona as the Argentine pleaded with the striker to stay put.
 
“In the case of Ney, obviously he is young, and I hope he's here with Barcelona for many more years,” Mascherano told American sports network ESPN. “He is a really important player for the club. Because of his age, he's the future of the club, and we hope we can keep on counting on him.”
 
However, it's believed the Brazilian is being seduced by the immense wealth on offer to him from the Qatari owners of PSG and by the opportunity to have a team built around him.
 
The daily Sport newspaper also claimed that Luis Suarez has also attempted to persuade Neymar not to split up the MSN frontline at Barcelona made up of Lionel Messi, Suarez and the Brazilian star.
 
Catalunya Radio said that the deal is “95 percent complete”.
 
One of the keys would be the payment to Neymar's father and agent of a “premium exceeding the 40 million” paid when the player controversially moved to Spain from Santos.
 
Other reports have claimed that Neymar senior has recently met with, or is about to meet, PSG sporting director Antero Henrique.
 
However, Barcelona vice-president Jordi Mestre insisted Tuesday that it is “200 percent” certain that Neymar will stay at the club.
 
In a public game of tit-for-tat pronouncements, PSG coach Unai Emery hailed the Brazilian.
 
“Neymar has advanced his game massively and today he is one of the five best in the world,” said Emery. “Our president is working hard to attract top players and our fans would be content to count on a new top player to go along with the talent we already have.”

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Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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