Paris Saint-Germain chief Leonardo has denied suggestions that wantaway forward Neymar has been banned from the first-team squad.
Neymar left the Spanish giants for PSG back in 2017, in a world-record £189m switch, but is keen on a return to Barca before the European summer transfer window slams shut on September 2.
His desire to seek pastures new has seemingly angered the PSG fans and they made their anger known from the stands during their Ligue 1 opener against Nimes last Sunday.
Their Paris support chanted “son of a b****” and held banners telling the 27-year-old to “get out” of the club, having grown frustrated with their world-record signing.
Neymar was absent from that game and has not been in first-team training as he continues his recovery from the injury that ruled him out of Brazil’s Copa America triumph – which has led to suggestions that he is no longer wants among the squad.
But Leonardo, the club’s sporting director, has insisted he has not been banished from first-team duties and that he remains part of boss Thomas Tuchel’s plans.
“It’s false. He has not been removed from the group,” he told RMC .
“He is following a personalised rehabilitation program. He is a Paris-Saint-Germain player, there are still three years left on his contract in Paris, we must not forget that.
“We must analyse everything, we must fix everything before he can play again.
“Things are simple, Neymar was monitored by several great doctors and surgeons early in the season and his fracture is fully consolidated on the fifth metatarsal. Neymar’s injury is completely healed.”
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, meanwhile, continued to be non committal about Neymar re-joining the club from the French side.
Barca have spent over £180million on signings including Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann but continue to be linked with a second swoop for Neymar, two years after he left the Catalans for PSG.
Valverde refused to answer questions about the club’s interest in Neymar and lamented the fact that the Spanish transfer window does not shut before the season starts, as it does in England.
“It’s inconvenient and it’s not logical. The normal thing would be that the team you start with is the same one that will compete for the whole season,” Valverde said during Thursday’s press conference.
“Now we have two weeks until the transfer window shuts and you can’t breathe easily until then. I’m very happy with the squad I have at the moment but I don’t know what will happen next.
“I am far removed from transfers and I’m focusing on the players I have for our first game. Neymar belongs to PSG and we’ll see what happens but I can’t say anything more about him.”