Barcelona Eye Champions League, Move To Resign Neymar

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The Spanish giant club,Barcelona is doing everything to balance domestic demands with the chase for Champions League success? Can Zinedine Zidane plot Real Madrid’s path out of the doldrums? And will either of them sign Neymar?

The new La Liga season is one with questions facing all of the leading contenders after a summer of heavy spending – not just Real and Barca, but Atletico Madrid and Sevilla too.

It is a testing start for champions Barcelona, who kick off the campaign away to Athletic Bilbao on Friday.

To preview the season, BBC Sport tackles four key La Liga questions.

Barca refreshed by new duo… and Neymar?

After winning the past two league titles by extremely comfortable margins (11 points last season and 14 points in 2017-18), Barcelona have refreshed their squad with a pair of big-money signings.

Hugely promising Dutchman Frenkie de Jong has arrived from Ajax for 75m euros to energise a midfield where Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic are starting to look their age, while 120m euros secured French World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid to provide much-needed cover and competition for Luis Suarez at centre forward.

However, the biggest deal of all could still lie ahead, with Neymar being lined up for a sensational return from Paris St-Germain – possibly sending Philippe Coutinho in the opposite direction – two years after he quit the Nou Camp in acrimonious circumstances.

It’s hard to see how manager Ernesto Valverde could accommodate all his attacking talents if the Brazilian does make the move: a quartet of Neymar, Griezmann, Suarez and captain Lionel Messi in the same starting line-up would be bold beyond belief. So one of them would probably have to sit on the bench, also leaving France international Ousmane Dembele in the cold.

Although president Josep Maria Bartomeu seems set upon securing Neymar as a trophy signing, Barca would arguably be better served by leaving the Brazilian in exile and lining up Griezmann on the left of attack, Suarez through the middle, Messi on the right with the versatile Dembele in rotation.

Regardless of how the squad shapes up by the end of the transfer window, Barca’s season will inevitably be played out against the backdrop of their quest to regain European supremacy in the wake of consecutive calamitous second-leg collapses at Roma and Liverpool.

Maintaining focus on domestic duties while also straining for Champions League success will be a tough balance to strike, and the pursuit of Neymar is doubtless intended to ensure the squad is stockpiled with world-class attacking power when the serious stuff rolls around next spring.

That might risk unsettling the squad, but Barca should still be nothing less than leading title contenders once again.




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