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Report: Barcelona will make Neymar loan offer

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The most expensive player in the world may be going back to his old club…on loan.

According to a report by ESPNFC, Barcelona will make an official approach for Neymar on a loan with an option to buy next summer, similar to the switch Philippe Coutinho made from the Camp Nou to Bayern Munich earlier today. In fact, the report specifically states that Barcelona will look to copy Bayern’s approach of a one-year loan with a fee ($9.4 million for Coutinho’s loan) plus all wages paid, followed by an option to buy ($133 million).

Barcelona prefers this approach as they have already racked up a massive transfer bill this summer, spending over $220 million on the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong, Junior Firpo, and Neto.

While there have been numerous reports of potentially creative offers for Neymar over the past few weeks that mention players included in a swap deal, the ESPNFC report specifically states no players will be included in any current or future deal for Neymar either in the terms of the loan or as part of the option to buy. While Barcelona considered this approach in the past, Paris Saint-Germain was reportedly not interested in any players Barca offered, other than Coutinho. They apparently made an official offer already, ponying up $89 million plus Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic, but that was turned down.

The ESPN report does state that Coutinho’s loan to Bayern is seen by those close to Neymar as “a huge setback” as the Brazilian’s camp saw Coutinho as the key to making the deal happen, given that Barcelona is unwilling to put up a straight cash offer this summer. Unnamed Barcelona officials are also quoted in the report as stating that a for a potential Neymar deal, “it will be complicated,” but they are hopeful of progress.

The option to buy in Barcelona’s offer has reportedly not been decided upon as of yet, although previous reports have stated that PSG is unlikely to consider an offer that does not net them back what they paid for Neymar two years ago, to the tune of $245 million.

Bayern Munich completes Coutinho loan signing

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Bayern Munich has completed the signing of Barcelona playmaker Philippe Coutinho on a season-long loan with an option to buy at the end of the season.

Both parties confirmed the signing on Monday morning, and while the German club stated that “all parties have agreed not to disclose any financial details of the agreement,” Barcelona went to great lengths to contradict that, detailing that Bayern is paying a $9.3 million loan fee and has a fixed $133 million option to buy at the end of the season.

“For me, this change represents a new challenge in a new country at one of the best clubs in Europe,” Coutinho said in the official Bayern release announcing the transfer. “I am really looking forward to this. I have big goals, like Bayern, and I’m sure I can do it with my new team-mates.”

The confirmed financials mean that Barcelona will suffer a huge loss on the Coutinho deal should Bayern activate the option to buy at the end of the season. The Brazilian struggled mightily at Barcelona, failing to find consistent form after moving from Liverpool for a sensational $160 million fee two summers ago. He made 76 appearances for the Catalan club, scoring 21 goals and assisting 11, but his final seven months of La Liga play last season saw him rack up just two goals and one assist in 23 appearances, losing his consistent place in the starting lineup and finding the ire of Barcelona fans.

However, Coutinho was one of the best players at this summer’s Copa America as Brazil won the tournament, leading to hope that he can rediscover his club form. At Bayern, Coutinho has a big opportunity to secure a place in the starting lineup given Thomas Muller’s gradual decline the last two seasons.

“We have been working with Philippe Coutinho for some time and are very happy that we were able to realize this transfer now,” said Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. “Our thanks to FC Barcelona for agreeing to this transfer. In Philippe, a player comes to FC Bayern who will strengthen our offensive with his creativity and excellent technique.”

Bayern drew 2-2 with Hertha Berlin in their season opener, a disappointing result that saw Bayern down 2-1 at halftime and unable to find anything more than a 60th minute Robert Lewandowski equalizer from the penalty spot.

VIDEO: Barcelona beaten by 38-year-old Aduriz’s bicycle kick

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Barcelona’s 2019-20 La Liga campaign, and their quest for a third straight domestic title, began with a shocking defeat away to Athletic Bilbao, last season’s 8th-place finishers.

But, on the bright side (for neutrals and Barca haters, of course) it happened in the most spectacular of fashions.

[ MORE: Barcelona, Bayern Munich agree deal to loan Philippe Coutinho ]

38-year-old Aritz Aduriz made his early submission for goal of the season: the following bicycle kick from 14 yards out on a high, long cross into the penalty area (goal at 0:38 mark).

The result snapped Barca’s streak of having won their opening league fixture for 10 straight seasons.

To make matters worse, Luis Suarez suffered a muscular injury to his right leg in the first half and was subbed off in the 37th minute. Barca were without Lionel Messi due to a calf injury, but Antoine Griezmann made his competitive debut for the club after moving from Atletico Madrid for $135 million this summer.

On the bright side (for Barca), they did manage to agree a loan move for Philippe Coutinho to leave the club, presumably shedding some, or all, of his wages off their books for the rest of the season.

Barcelona, Bayern Munich agree deal to loan Coutinho

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Barcelona and Bayern Munich are nearing the completion of a loan deal that will see midfielder Philippe Coutinho move from Spain to Germany, according to a Barcelona spokesperson on Friday.

[ MORE: Who are the top contenders in this season’s Champions League? ]

Barcelona spokesperson Guillermo Amor confirmed the progress of negotiations on Friday:

“We can confirm that there is an agreement in principle for the loan of Coutinho to Bayern and we just have to finalize the deal”

According to Mundo Deportivo and Sport, Bayern will pay between $16 million and $22 million for this season’s loan, with an option to make the deal permanent for $133 million. Coutinho was left out of Barcelona’s squad for Friday’s La Liga opener against Athletic Bilbao.

Barcelona have spent the entire summer shopping Coutinho to most of the biggest clubs across Europe, desperate to unburden themselves of the 27-year-old Brazilian’s lucrative contract and recoup a sizable chunk of the (up to) $192 million they paid to acquire him from Liverpool barely 18 months ago. Tottenham Hotspur were briefly linked with Coutinho prior to the English transfer window closing on Aug. 8, but those reports were quickly shot down.

La Liga preview: Three-peat for Barcelona?

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As we close out the decade, Barcelona has been far and away the best team in Spain, and possibly Europe, over the last ten years. This summer, they may have gotten even stronger.

The La Liga season kicks off on Friday, with Barcelona going for its third-straight league title and eighth in the last ten years. Barcelona won the 2019 title by 11 points over Atletico Madrid and a stunning 19 points over rivals Real Madrid. Now, as Barca gets set to face Athletic Bilbao in the season opener, it’s upgraded at key positions that could give Barcelona what it needs to win the league again, and even potentially the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

Barcelona this summer signed France World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann, French defender Jean-Clair Todibo and Spanish defender Junior Firpo. But the crown jewel could be central midfielder Frenkie de Jong. The former Ajax star has trained in the Dutch possession model for the last two years, which Barcelona bears a strong resemblance to.

As such, de Jong has seamlessly transitioned to the Barcelona squad, and could make Barcelona the team to beat in Europe for many years to come. Imagine de Jong spraying passes to Lionel 2Messi, and Barcelona could start winning matches 4-1, 5-0, on a consistent basis.

Nipping on Barcelona’s heels this coming season will likely be Atletico Madrid. Diego Simeone, in his ninth season in charge, has probably had the best transfer window of any team in La Liga. Despite losing veterans like Griezmann, Diego Godin, Juanfran, Felipe Luis and young stars like Rodri (Man City) and Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Simeone and the Atletico board have brought in some of the brightest stars that can light up La Liga.

The star of the bunch is Joao Felix. The 19-year-old has started life incredibly with Atletico as he’s scored three goals and dished out four assists in preseason action. Atleti also added former Tottenham right back Kieran Trippier and brought untested but talented midfielder Marcos Llorente over from Real Madrid. The new improvements have helped make Atleti an even better attacking team. That may seem against Simeone’s principals, but perhaps with Diego Costa leading the line this season and Felix on the left, we could see an Atleti squad outscoring its opponents, rather than grinding out low-scoring games.

On the other side of Madrid is Real Madrid, and at the moment, it’s not looking good. Los Blancos had plenty of hope last spring, when Zinedine Zidane returned to take over as coach and Real fans hoped for a big change this summer.

Instead, it’s been just more of the same. Yes, Real Madrid has brought in Eden Hazard, Eder Militao and Luka Jovic among others. But according to reports, the one player Zidane wanted Real Madrid to sign the most was Paul Pogba. Unless something drastic changes at Old Trafford, that won’t happen.

Meanwhile, the backline has hardly changed. Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and Nacho are still around, and while Militao and Ferland Mendy bring some youth to the backline, it’s still not a world-class unit. Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro struggled at times during the season, and while Vinicius Jr. is a talent, Hazard’s arrival means there’s less playing time for the Brazilian.

Plus, there’s the distraction of James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale still in the squad, plus Marco Asensio’s season-ending injury. It may be a somewhat tough year in the center of Madrid this year.