Strong words from Neymar on Sunday as he claimed that Barcelona “have board members that shouldn’t be there” and suggests that his former team are no longer amongst the elite sides in Europe.
Neymar left Barca to join Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record €222m earlier in August, and the Brazilian appeared to support calls for Josep Maria Bartomeu’s management to step down as they made him ”very sad”, while the club “deserve much better”.
“When I arrived, everything started well but then… at Barcelona, there are directors that shouldn’t be there. I’m very sad with them,” he said in the mixed zone after his two goals in PSG’s 6-2 win against Toulouse.
Lionel Messi hit the post three times as Barcelona opened their La Liga campaign with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Real Betis.
The 30-year-old, who was looking for his 350th goal in the competition, was denied by the woodwork before the break and twice after it as Betis goalkeeper Antonio Adan enjoyed good fortune at the Nou Camp.
However, an evening on which the club paid tribute to the victims of last week’s terror attack in the city before kickoff ended in satisfactory fashion for the Catalan giants with Alin Tosca’s own goal and a second from Sergio Roberto handing new manager Ernesto Valverde victory in his first league game at the helm.
Andres Iniesta has revealed he is yet to put pen to paper on a new contract at Barcelona and hinted his thought process on staying at the Nou Camp has shifted in recent years.
The midfield stalwart, whose contract expires next summer, is a product of the famed La Masia academy in Catalonia, joining at just 12 years of age on the brink of one of the club’s most successful periods.
And it is, perhaps, not a coincidence that Barca embarked on a period of such prolific success after Iniesta’s arrival.
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane insists he is happy with his squad as it is, hoping for no changes before the end of the transfer window.
Madrid opened their LaLiga title defence with a 3-0 victory at Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.
Without the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo, Zidane’s men claimed a convincing win thanks to goals from Gareth Bale, Casemiro and Toni Kroos.
Zidane, whose team have been linked to Monaco star Kylian Mbappe, said he would be more than happy to have his squad unchanged before the window closes on August 31.
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Zidane Wants No Departures From Real Madrid Squad
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Ernesto Valverde refused to discuss potential Barcelona signings as he instead praised the players who stepped up to deliver three points against Real Betis at Camp Nou.
Having lost Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record move, Barca were also without injured trio Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez.
Without any further attacking recruits, despite reported interest in Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho, Valverde saw the likes of Sergi Roberto and Gerard Deulofeu make the difference in the final third.
And he preferred to focus on these fine performances when asked about transfers following the 2-0 win, responding:
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Valverde Praise His Side After First Barcelona Win
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Gareth Bale silenced his Real Madrid critics by scoring his side’s first goal of the season for the third consecutive year as they eased to a 3-0 win over Deportivo.
The Welshman also made the third in a comfortable victory that also saw Casemiro and Toni Kroos get on the scoresheet in a win achieved despite a late Sergio Ramos red card.
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Real Madrid Begin La Liga title Defence With Comfortable Win
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Life continues. The city will heal. That was the message as Lionel Messi shone, inspiring Barcelona to a crushing victory over Real Betis at a Nou Camp not cowed by the terror attacks in Catalonia on Thursday.
Barcelona hung a canvas outside the stadium with the hashtag ‘TotsSomBarcelona’ (We are all Barcelona), with some tourists returning their tickets after the horrific events which shook the city, but nearly 60,000 fans watched on as their side started the season with a comfortable victory.
An impeccable minute’s silence was observed, and then it was business as usual. Although the focus has understandably shifted, Barcelona as a club has endured a difficult summer.
Barcelona are poised to trigger the €40m release clause of Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri, with the aim of having the Ivorian at the Nou Camp by early next week.
The Spanish giants are seeking reinforcements to their midfield ahead of a busy 2017-18 campaign.
Barca are still reeling from the loss of Neymar, yet have heavily inflated coffers with which to delve into the transfer market and add quality to their squad before the window slams shut in two weeks’ time.
Seri was a stand-out player in Ligue 1 last season and was an instrumental part of Nice’s Champions League qualification finish.
Atletico Madrid are prepared to offer up to £50million to Chelsea for Diego Costa in a bid to break the stalemate over the wantaway striker.
Costa has been training alone in his hometown of Lagarto, Brazil and insists he has no intention of returning to London unless he gets his wish to join Atletico.
Chelsea have fined Costa more than £300,000 in wages and will continue to do so until he ends his exile.
They have considered taking legal action against the player should he stay away.
But his lawyers have countered by claiming Chelsea have ruined his career prospects and will consider their own action.