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Soccer Extras: Neymar revisits Barca, but only for a legal dispute

September 28, 2019 01:28 IST

Neymar

IMAGE: Paris St Germain's Neymar. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

Barcelona spent much of the close season trying to bring Neymar back to the club two years after he left to join Paris St Germain but on Friday the Brazilian’s attempts to negotiate with his old side ended in mutual recriminations.

An agreement to avoid a trial appeared to be close on Friday morning before collapsing at the last minute.

 

Neymar, 27, visited Barcelona but ultimately chose not to appear in court, where he is suing the La Liga champions over an unpaid loyalty bonus of 26 million euros ($30.69 million).

Representatives for both parties presented evidence in their respective claims, although they still have time to reach an agreement before an Oct. 21 deadline to present final written conclusions.

Neymar’s presence was not compulsory and only likely in case of a trial, so his absence was initially seen as a sign a last minute agreement deal be reached. But after spending the night in the Catalan city, Neymar left before proceedings began.

Barca, meanwhile, are suing the forward for 8.5 million euros in damages and demanding he reimburses the club for part of the loyalty bonus they paid him in November 2016.

Lawyers for the Catalan club said on Friday that by joining PSG less than a year after penning a contract which tied him to the club until 2021, Neymar failed to comply with its terms.

Lawyers for Barca said in court that the club did not pay the disputed bonus after it became clear Neymar was already in negotiations to join PSG. “At that time it was perfectly clear that the player had no interest in staying in the club,” said Barcelona lawyer Carles McCragh.

Neymar’s lawyers argue that he began talks with PSG only after the Catalan club failed to make the payment.

Neymar, who scored 105 goals in four seasons with Barca during which he won two La Liga titles, three Copa del Rey triumphs and the Champions League, is no stranger to legal troubles.

In 2016 he was summoned to the High Court in a fraud and corruption investigation over his transfer to Barcelona from boyhood club Santos in 2016.

The player denied any wrongdoing and although charges were later dropped the case has since been reopened.

Mbappe and Icardi back for PSG against Bordeaux

Paris St Germain strikers Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi are fit to return for the Ligue 1 champions’ trip to Girondins de Bordeaux after recovering from injuries, coach Thomas Tuchel said on Friday.

France’s Mbappe, who has been out for over a month with a muscle problem and Argentine Icardi, sidelined for a week with a groin injury, will be available for Saturday’s encounter against Bordeaux.

Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani, however, will miss out because he has not fully recovered from a hip injury that has kept him out of action for a month.

The return of Mbappe and Icardi will give PSG a big boost after they lost 2-0 at home to Stade de Reims on Wednesday, having failed to score at the Parc des Princes for the first time in 45 matches.

PSG lead the standings with 15 points from seven games, ahead of Angers on goal difference.

Emery backs new Arsenal captain Xhaka to win over fans

Arsenal manager Unai Emery backed Granit Xhaka to win the fans over after the Swiss midfielder was named the club’s new captain following a dressing-room vote.

Xhaka, who has captained Arsenal six times this season, finished ahead of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil in the voting process.

Xhaka has come in for criticism this season for a number of errors, including conceding a penalty in the 2-2 draw against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Yet Emery said the Switzerland international would learn from his mistakes.

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