Sergio Busquets has told Neymar there’s no better place to be than Barcelona as the Brazil star continues to be linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Increasing reports throughout the week suggest PSG will pay Neymar’s €222 million release clause, with Diario Sport claiming that could happen before Wednesday, when Barca play Manchester United in Washington D.C.
In the meantime, Neymar remains with the rest of his Barca teammates in New Jersey and trained at Red Bull Arena on Friday ahead of the club’s International Champions Cup match against Juventus at the MetLife Stadium this weekend.
“There’s nothing for me to tell Neymar, he already knows where he is,” Busquets said in a news conference. “He can’t be anywhere better. I hope he stays for many years.”
Asked what the immediate future holds for Neymar, Busquets added less emphatically: “I don’t know, it’s a question for him, like the manager [Ernesto Valverde] said, this is a time of rumours, news stories. … I don’t know what will happen, only Neymar knows.”
Neymar’s silence on the subject has only increased the doubts about his future at Camp Nou, with Catalunya Radio reporting an agreement with PSG is 95 percent complete.
On Thursday he didn’t comment to the press when he was asked about the likelihood of a move to the French club and he has used social media to stress that “family comes first.”
However, Barca coach Valverde refused to give any credence to the reports and said everything is just speculation.
“This is a time of rumours,” he said, seated alongside Busquets. “Neymar is with us and we absolutely want him to stay here.
“We have not spoken about [the rumours], no, just tactical things. He is a player that we love and want to keep, not just in terms of on the pitch, but for what he gives in the dressing room. The rumours are there, that’s it, but we’re focused on the day to day.”
Asked if he was at least worried by the rumours, Valverde responded: “We can’t worry about something that’s not happened.”
Barca’s match against Juventus on Saturday will be Valverde’s first in charge of the club since replacing Luis Enrique at the end of last season.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Valverde said. “I’ve been getting to know [the players] little by little in training, but in competition, things are different, despite it not being an official competition.
“But I am excited, really excited to see the players on the pitch and see how we are progressing. It’s the first game, the players are still getting into shape, so I am planning on a lot of changes at half time — it’s important to give players lots of game time.”