Chelsea forward Pedro confirmed he held talks with Barcelona over a potential return to the Camp Nou, while Neymar’s move to PSG reportedly fell through because of his father’s outrageous demands. TheHardTackle rounds up all the important stories concerning the La Liga champions
Marquinhos remains coy on future
Barcelona have been interested in Marquinhos since he first broke through at Roma, but the defender opted to to join PSG in the summer of 2013. The Brazilian failed to truly establish himself in the starting lineup at his new club and was said to be unhappy over his lack of playing time. However, the situation changed towards the end of last season as he began to feature more for the French champions.
Barcelona continued to be linked with the defender during the summer, but the centre-back eventually stayed put. The Catalan giants see the Brazilian as an ideal long-term partner for their young summer signing Samuel Umtiti.
Speaking to Canal Football Club, Marquinhos said, “Would I say no to Barcelona? I have no need to tell them anything, because PSG will not sell me. Could I join the Catalans later? For now, I want to make my life in Paris if everything continues like this.”
Messi leads Ronaldo in Ballon d’Or fan votes
France Football have revealed that over 1.76 million votes have been cast on their website by fans from all over the world from the list of 30 shortlisted players for the upcoming edition of the prestigious Ballon d’Or award.
Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez leads the poll (at the time of writing) with 39% of the votes, followed by Lionel Messi (27%) and Ronaldo (20%). Luis Suarez, Neymar and Andres Iniesta are among others who are up for the award.
Messi and Suarez win La Liga awards but Luis Enrique snubbed
An award ceremony to celebrate some of the best players, managers and teams from La Liga 2015-16 was held recently, but Barcelona manager Luis Enrique may well feel hard done by.
Lionel Messi won the best striker award, while Luis Suarez was named as the La Liga World Player. However, manager Luis Enrique, who guided the club to the league title last season, was not even named among the nominees for the best manager award, which was won by Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone.
This decision led to the Barcelona players boycotting the event. The two Madrid clubs dominated the other awards, including the best player (Antoine Griezmann), best midfielder (Luka Modric), best defender (Diego Godin) and best goalkeeper (Jan Oblak).
Former Barcelona winger Pedro held talks with club
Pedro found it difficult to break through into the Chelsea starting lineup under former manager Jose Mourinho after he signed for the club in the summer of 2015. After enduring a difficult season, the Spaniard revealed he was tempted to return to his boyhood club and even held talks with Barcelona’s president in the summer.
Speaking to RAC1, the Spanish winger said, “I talked with president Bartomeu (for a return). It is difficult to return somewhere, but you always have memories of a spell with a club.”
Pedro now seems content with his playing time under new manager Antonio Conte, and has responded to the manager’s faith by scoring once and assisting three goals this season already.
Mathieu adds to the injury woes
Barcelona played Espanyol in a cross-town friendly for the Catalan Super Cup on Tuesday, which the latter ended up winning 1-0.
However, there was further bad news for Barca as Jeremy Mathieu had to be substituted in the 52nd minute after appearing to be in discomfort. After the game, it was revealed the Frenchman had suffered a calf strain. He will undergo further tests to to find out the extent of the injury.
Jeremy Mathieu adds to the already long list of injured players including Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Andres Iniesta, Jasper Cillessen, Aleix Vidal and Rafinha.
PSG backed away from Neymar’s dad’s ludicrous demand
Neymar was the subject of much speculation last summer, with PSG reported to be a front-runner for the forward. The French giants were willing to break the bank to land the Brazilian.
However, French outlet L’Equipe have now claimed that the only reason PSG backed away from a move for the Barcelona superstar was his father’s astonishing demand. PSG were willing to pay Neymar’s release clause — believed to be a huge €192 million at the time — but his father demanded the club also pay off the €45 million that he owes the Brazilian authorities.
Neymar has since signed a new contract with Barcelona, which should end any speculation regarding his immediate future.