Valverde distances himself from Neymar phone call reports

Reports suggested Neymar's father had been in regular contact with Barcelona over a return, but Ernesto Valverde says he has heard nothing.

Neymar left Barcelona in 2017 and joined Paris Saint-Germain in €222 million deal.   -  Getty Images

Ernesto Valverde insisted he had not received a phone call urging him to re-sign Neymar following reports the club had been contacted by the player's father.

El Mundo claimed this week that Neymar Sr had made repeated pleas to the Barcelona  board to bring his son - who joined Paris Saint-Germain for €222 million in 2017 - back to Camp Nou.

Neymar Sr subsequently denied the reports and Valverde stressed that, if any calls had taken place, he certainly was not party to them.

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"People tend to say big things about players at other clubs," he told a news conference. 

"He is a great player, had a great World Cup, but now he's at a different club, so there's nothing more to say about that.

"It's not a question of Neymar phoning... nobody has phoned me. News stories always appear in the press. He's a PSG player and we respect PSG."

Valverde did concede that a forward was high on his January shopping list following the departure of Munir El Haddadi to Sevilla and said he would prioritise a player who could adapt swiftly to life at Barca.

"You probably focus more on a player who can adapt quickly to our team," he explained. 

"When a player comes like [Jeison] Murillo, the first thing you want is for them to adapt quickly, someone who can play straight away. That's if a forward comes."

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Pressed on whether Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata could be an option, Valverde commented: "For the same reason as Neymar, I can't comment on that.

"Munir leaving has left a gap, also Rafinha being injured because we often used him as a midfielder going forward.

"We'll see if we can sign any other players but we need to look at the finances, of course. So we'll see if we find someone or not. If someone comes or doesn't come, we have B team players as well. We'll see."

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