Bartomeu said Dembele is better than Neymar
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has dismissed speculation over a possible return for Neymar, describing Ousmane Dembele as a ‘much better player’ than the Brazil captain. Neymar departed the Camp Nou for Paris Saint-Germain for a world record £200m fee in August 2017, before Barcelona used a significant chunk of those funds to sign Dembele from Borussia Dortmund later that month. Despite having forced his way out of the club, Neymar has been linked with a return to Barcelona, but the possibility appears unlikely with Bartomeu at the helm.
“It’s not possible for the Brazilian to come because we have another sporting project with Dembele and (Philippe) Coutinho,” Bartomeu told RTVE. “We’re happy with what we’ve got. Dembele has a higher level than Neymar. And he’s a good professional. “He’s young and he’s come to a big club. It’s not easy, but he’s already adapted. He’s a much better player than Neymar.” Although he has suffered significant injuries in both of his seasons in France, Neymar has impressed, scoring 48 goals in 53 games for the Ligue 1 club, and is nearing a return to action, having been ruled out since January. Six years Neymar’s junior at 21, Dembele has contributed 18 goals in his 59 appearances for Barcelona, with injuries also disrupting both his campaigns with his new club.
Barcelona also splashed £142m to sign Coutinho from Liverpool as they sought to replace the void left by Neymar, but his struggle to recapture his best Premier League form has led to speculation over a possible departure. “He’s an excellent player. He has the confidence of the coach,” Bartomeu said of Coutinho. “We are very happy. He’s got a contract and will keep playing unless they pay the exit clause.”