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Ernesto Valverde downplays Neymar-Real Madrid links

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Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has downplayed talk of Neymar completing a sensational transfer from Paris Saint-Germain to rivals Real Madrid.

The Neymar transfer saga is still going strong with the player harbouring a big desire to seal an unexpected return to Barcelona this summer.

Although the 27-year-old’s hopes of a Camp Nou comeback were dashed last weekend when the club’s vice-president Jordi Cardoner ruled out them out for a summer move. It came following their struggles to match PSG’s demands of €222m in cash only.

Just as things looked like they may be finally settling down, however, reports emerged on Wednesday claiming Real were plotting a move for Neymar.

Speaking after Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Napoli in Miami, though, Valverde played down the latest flurry of rumours surrounding a potential link-up between Neymar and rivals Real.

“Now it’s Madrid and we’ll see what happens tomorrow,” said Valverde, according to OneFootball.

“Two years ago he was right here and I had to answer questions from many journalists. Now, they ask me again about him.

“It seems that Neymar is following me. We have nothing to say about players who are on other teams.”

Catalan news outlet Sport has also claimed that PSG recently offered to sell Neymar to Manchester United and Juventus. Although the Brazil star continues to remain silent on his future plans despite pleas from former Barcelona team-mate Gerard Pique.

Following his world-record €222m transfer in 2017, Neymar has managed 51 goals and 27 assists in 58 appearances for PSG. Furthermore, he remains under contract until June 2022.

Thomas Tuchel’s side are currently preparing for their Ligue 1 opener away to Nimes on Sunday night. However, chances of Neymar featuring are unlikely considering he hasn’t played a minute of football throughout pre-season.