SHARE
COPY LINK

FOOTBALL

Bye bye Barça: Neymar tells teammates ‘he is leaving’

Neymar's potential world record move to Paris Saint-Germain moved a step closer on Wednesday as the Brazilian informed his Barcelona teammates he is leaving the club, a Barca spokesperson told AFP.

Bye bye Barça: Neymar tells teammates 'he is leaving'
Speculation is rife that Neymar is moving to PSG. Photo: AFP

“The player came to train as scheduled and announced to his teammates that he is leaving,” said the source.

“The coach has given him permission to not train and to manage resolving his future.”

Speculation over the 25-year-old's future has dominated the first few weeks of new Barça boss Ernesto Valverde's reign with PSG reportedly willing to pay Neymar's €222 million ($260 million) buyout clause. 

Such a fee would smash the current record £89.3 million ($111 million, €105.2 million) Manchester United paid for Paul Pogba last year.

Neymar arrived back in Barcelona on Tuesday from a fleeting promotional tour to China after playing in all three of Barça's glamour pre-season fixtures in the United States against Juventus, Manchester United and Real Madrid.

He arrived for training at 9am local time (0700GMT), but left left less than an hour later.

Presuming both clubs don't come to a late agreement, the buyout clause would have to be paid to Barcelona via Spain's La Liga to free the player from the contract he signed last year and runs until 2021.

However, La Liga president Javier Tebas has threatened not to accept PSG's money over what he perceives as a failure on the French side's part to comply with UEFA's financial fair play rules (FFP).

“We will not accept this money from a club like PSG,” Tebas told Madrid sports daily AS on Wednesday.

“Especially when this club is infringing rules and laws.”    

Barcelona have also threatened to report PSG to UEFA over any potential breach of FFP.

Clubs can be sanctioned by UEFA for making a loss of more than €30 million over a three-year period.  

PSG have already been fined and saw their Champions League squad limited by UEFA for breaches of FFP in 2014.

FOOTBALL

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.

SHOW COMMENTS