July 29, 2021

Koeman reveals Arsenal-linked Neto has asked to leave Barcelona

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The Camp Nou side have turned down the Brazilian goalkeeper’s request to leave this month

Ronald Koeman has confirmed that goalkeeper Neto has asked to leave the club in the January transfer window.

The 31-year-old joined Barcelona from Valencia in 2019 and has made just 14 appearances since, featuring nine times this season.

Reports emerged this week claiming the one-time Brazil international wants to depart Camp Nou and he has been linked with a move to Arsenal.

Barca have turned down the shot stopper’s request to leave, however, claiming he is too important to let go. 

Koeman told reporters on Saturday: “It’s true that his representative has asked the club for an exit and we have said no because he is an important goalkeeper for us and we want to be very well covered at each position.”

The Blaugrana have been trying to sign Eric Garcia from Manchester City in recent transfer windows and were reportedly close to wrapping up the deal this month.

But the club are expected to wait until the summer transfer window, when he will be available on a free transfer.

Koeman has dismissed suggestions he is upset with the decision to wait, admitting they cannot afford to pay to sign him now.

“I’ve read I’m unhappy. I’m fine, I’m happy, I know perfectly well the limitations of the club,” he added. “If it’s not possible, it’s not possible. We continue with what we have.”

Barcelona will contest the Supercopa de Espana final on Sunday when they face Athletic Club, who beat Real Madrid in the semi-final in midweek.

Lionel Messi could miss the clash in Seville after playing no part in their final four win against Real Sociedad and Koeman says he will let the Argentina sensation decide if he can play the tournament decider.

“[On Friday], he trained on his own and today, we’ll see how he is to start with,” Koeman said.

“He’ll have the final say. He knows his body. We have to wait and see how his niggles progress. We’re hopeful that he’ll play. If you have the best [players], you have a better chance of winning, and even more so if you have the best player in the world.

“The team is stronger with Leo in it, thanks to his creativity and efficiency – something that we sometimes lack. But if he’s not there, another [player] will play and we’ll play our game the same without him as with him.

“He has to be 100 per cent. It’s not the final game of the season, though the decision is his.”