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Report: Neymar has been asking Barcelona to buy him back

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This is pretty sad.

Not in a “death of a family pet” way, rather a “buck up, son” way.

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Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar wants to return to Barcelona, and the megastar’s father has contacted Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu a handful of times in a bid to return to the Camp Nou.

From Marca:

“He is disappointed and sorry,” El Mundo report the player’s father as saying to the Barcelona president.

Anyway, if true, this is a big one (even if a move clearly wouldn’t happen until the summer).

The left winger has 18 goals and nine assists in 21 matches this season, including five and two in the UEFA Champions League. He was blanked against Napoli but had a goal and an assist against Liverpool.

His PSG record on the whole is unreal, with 46 goals and 25 assists in 51 games.

At 26, he’s got years left in his prime and Malcom, Ousmane Dembele, and Philippe Coutinho have yet to grab the proverbial bulls by their horns.

Here’s why the move would not necessarily be insane rumor mill click-mongering: It takes a special cat to thrive with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, and Neymar has proven he can do that. In fact, he’d likely be in line to play a bigger role than when he previously spent time at Barca.

Barcelona chief backs Catalan leaders in clash with Spain

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu says Barcelona backs the leaders of Catalonia in response to the Spanish government’s decision to take over the regional government.

Bartomeu said on Saturday “the fact that people have been imprisoned for their political ideas is unacceptable in the 21st century. No one can question Barcelona’s commitment to Catalan society and its democratic institutions.”

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To block the Catalan independence push, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy wants the Senate to give him direct power to dissolve the regional Catalan government and call an early election.

Bartomeu says Barcelona sides with those who defend the Catalan people’s right to vote in a referendum for independence. He also says the club aims to remain in the Spanish league.

Barcelona leads La Liga, defeating Malaga late Saturday.

Reports: Coutinho, Dembele want Barca moves

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Liverpool, so far, are holding firm on the idea that Philippe Coutinho is not for sale, though Barcelona seems to know something the Anfield club does not.

Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol says Coutinho would like to join Barcelona, and it’s the “only way” he’d leave Liverpool. He also would only leave if the deal could be done “amicably.”

Barca president Josep-Maria Bartomeu said the club will spend the approximate $262 million Neymar exit fee “sensibly, strictly, and wisely,” and Solhekol says the Barca president remains furious with Paris Saint-Germain and the other Middle East- and Russia-bolstered clubs.

[ MORE: Premier League summer transfers, so far ]

In that sense, Barcelona has a bit of a kinship with Liverpool, adding to the intrigue of a potential move. Jurgen Klopp would be very angry if the Reds relented and sold Coutinho.

Meanwhile, Solhekol took to Twitter to say that Klopp’s former club, Borussia Dortmund, also faces temptation via Neymar’s move, with BVB star Ousmane Dembele also desiring a move to Barca and an anticipated offer of $117 million.

Liverpool already shot down a Coutinho bid of around $88 million, and Coutinho has a bigger body of work but is five years older than Dembele (who is more of a winger and has better numbers relative to age). The BVB man had an assist as Dortmund fell to Bayern in penalty kicks after 120 minutes of the Bayern Super Cup this weekend, and had 10 goals and 21 assists in all competitions last season.

Coutinho had yet to post a season as statistically significant in assists, and it’s probably fair to say that Dembele is worth more on the market if Liverpool supporters are expecting as big a haul for their Brazilian star (should the Reds actually sell).

Liverpool could resist the urge to sell for competitive reasons, though it’d be wise to see what’s on the market in terms of potential replacements (Consider that Gabriel Jesus‘ value went from $4 million to $40 million to who knows what it would be right now). In the micro sense, it’s hard to put a number on Coutinho. In the macro, and looking at Dembele in comparison, the Reds could reload in a big way.

Let’s put it this way: If Barca used the Neymar fee to buy Coutinho and Dembele, many would think the Blaugranas will have come to close to winning the exchange, or at least breaking even.

Barcelona asks court to act against Spanish league president

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona is asking a sports tribunal to consider sanctioning the Spanish federation and the president of the Spanish league after they condemned a goal celebration and accused players of provoking rival fans.

The club said Thursday it has formally requested the Administrative Court of Sport open disciplinary proceedings against Javier Tebas and members of the federation’s competition committee after their “unacceptable public declarations and assessments” about Barcelona players.

[ MORE: Spanish FF chastises Barcelona ]

The competition committee fined Valencia 1,500 euros ($1,600) on Wednesday after water bottles were thrown at Barcelona players celebrating a late winner in a Spanish league match on Saturday in Valencia.

It also condemned the attitude of the players by saying they shouldn’t have turned to the stands to celebrate and that they exaggerated after some of them were hit by one of the bottles. It said their actions exposed them to ridicule.

Barcelona said the committee “is not there to make assessments but rather to take disciplinary action, or not, in order to make an example of incidents that occur” on the pitch.

“Making statements regarding the actions of the players adds even more tension to a situation that must be deescalated,” Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said.

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Bartomeu also had harsh words for Tebas, who told Spanish media that he didn’t like the attitude of some Barcelona players, hinting that they provoked the fans during their celebration.

“The declarations made by Tebas are irresponsible and unbecoming of a sports executive,” Bartomeu said.

Barcelona’s next game is Saturday against last-place Granada at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona reflects on UEFA Champions League ouster: “It was not to be”

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AC Milan’s status as the last club to win consecutive European Cups is safe for at least another two years after Atletico Madrid bounced Barcelona from the UEFA Champions League at the quarterfinal stage on Wednesday.

Barca led 2-1 after one leg, but gave up a goal to Antoine Griezmann early to put Atletico Madrid in the driver’s seat.

[ MORE: Atleti 2-0 Barca | Benfica 2-2 Bayern ]

When all was said and done, Barca could not put a ball behind Jan Oblak and Griezmann scored again to push Atletico to the semifinals.

Say this about Barcelona: They are of one mind.

Earlier this season, it looked like Barca was ready to lay claim to being the greatest team in a generation or more. The club now must regroup to halt its losing streak at three matches.

Barca is three points ahead of Atletico Madrid with six matches to play in La Liga, and is also in the Copa del Rey final. The Blaugranas have won the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup.

But how hungry will they be to reverse their recent trend?