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Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has made it clear the club wants to keep Neymar amid rumours of a world-record offer from Paris Saint-Germain.
According to Julien Laurens of the Guardian, the Ligue 1 side are growing confident that they can complete a remarkable £199 million deal for the Brazilian. When asked about the player after his excellent performance in the 2-1 win over Juventus on Saturday, Valverde reiterated his desire to keep him.
“Barca are not going to go without Neymar,” he said, per Sport. “We want him with us. We know the importance he has in our play.”
Neymar netted both Barca’s goals in the win over the Italian side at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. One goal, in particular, was exceptional, as he slalomed past a succession of challenges and finished calmly. It was the kind of strike that makes the aforementioned sum seem a reasonable price for the 25-year-old:
As Laurens noted, PSG are ready to activate the buyout amount in Neymar’s contract and the player is keen on making the switch to the Parc des Princes.
If Barcelona were to lose their No. 11 ahead of the 2017-18 season, it would be a huge blow. Granted, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are tremendous forwards, but Neymar adds something different to that duo with his scintillating darts infield from the left flank.
Factor in his ability to score goals, make goals and entertain, and sports journalist Patrick Boyland suggested the Brazilian may well be irreplaceable:
Patrick Boyland @Paddy_Boyland
Neymar would be a devastating loss for Barcelona. Not really sure how they’d be able to replace him effectively.
Valverde has a big job on his hands at the Camp Nou. While he has some of the world’s best footballers at his disposal, Barca were inconsistent last season under Luis Enrique and clearly lack depth in some vital areas of the pitch.
If Neymar does move on, it would make an already difficult project for him even more challenging.
Massimiliano Allegri on Paulo Dybala
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Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri has played down suggestions Barcelona will move for Paulo Dybala should they lose Neymar.
According to Ramiro Aldunate of Marca, the Juventus forward is on Barca’s radar if the Brazilian makes his way to Paris. However, Allegri is unconcerned by the speculation.
“I’m not worried about losing Dybala,” he said, per Sport. “On the other hand, I don’t know firsthand what’s going on with Neymar and PSG, so I don’t know if Barca will have to sign a replacement. It’s something I can’t control, so I’m not worried.”
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Dybala signed a new long-term contract with Juventus earlier this year, and unlike Neymar, his deal does not include a buyout clause.
There are similarities between the two players. As OptaPaolo noted, Dybala is one of the best dribblers in football:
63% – Among players who attempted 100+ dribbles in the Serie A 2016/17, Paulo Dybala recorded the highest success rate. Slalom. https://t.co/0UsMgnQ8sF
Additionally, the 23-year-old has the ability to quicken pulses with his work in the final third. Dybala has a brilliant change of pace, takes up intelligent positions on the pitch and is dangerous on his left foot within range of goal.
Still, he has yet to find a consistency level comparable to Neymar’s. Nor is he at his best in a wide position. Juventus would also likely be reluctant to sell, having lost Leonardo Bonucci already this summer. And with Dybala secured on a long-term contract, there would be no pressure to cash in, either.