Wednesday Kickoff: Neymar makes Barcelona preseason debut; Man United to make third Fabregas bid; and more

NeymarBarcelona1-LechiaGdansk (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Just one day after arriving at Barcelona for the upcoming season, Neymar made his preseason debut for the club.

In a friendly match in Poland against Lechia Gdansk, Neymar came on as a second-half substitute, playing 11 minutes in a 2-2 draw, clearly showing that he was lacking in fitness and physicality after taking the better part of the last month to organize his personal life in his move to Spain.

Lionel Messi, who scored one goal in the match, wasn’t on the field at the same time as Neymar due to starting the match and the Barcelona brass wanting to keep him fresh for later in the season. .

As Neymar and the Barcelona squad return home, he’ll get prepared for his next preseason friendly when he takes on his former club Santos in the Joan Gamper Trophy, set for this Friday at the Camp Nou. After that Barcelona has two matches in east Asia before opening their La Liga season on August 18 against Levante.

Here are some more stories to get your Wednesday started:

MAN UNITED TO OFFER £35 MILLION FOR FABREGAS

After a week of deliberations, Manchester United look to continue their pursuit of Cesc Fabregas.

The English club is reportedly ready to submit an offer of £35 million ($53 million) for the Barcelona midfielder, a fee that would break Man United’s previous transfer record, when they spent £30.75 in 2008 to sign Dimitar Berbatov.

Reports in England state that Fabregas would be interested in playing with his former Arsenal teammate Robin Van Persie at Old Trafford, although the new Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino has made it clear publicly that he would reject any Man United bid.

PSV AND LYON OPEN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ACCOUNTS WITH WINS

Tuesday marked the start of the third round of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League group stages, where former group stage regular Lyon of Ligue 1 and PSV of the Eredivisie entered.

PSV took a commanding 2-0 lead in their tie with Zulte-Waregem of Belgium, scoring second-half goals through Memphis Depay and Jurgen Locadia to win the match. Former AZ Alkmaar midfielder Adam Maher made his debut in midfield for the Dutch club, starting and playing the full 90 minutes.

Serbian defender Milan Bisevac was the hero for Lyon at the Stade Gerland, heading in the only goal of the match in a 1-0 victory over Grasshopper of the Swiss Super League. France U-20 World Cup winner Samuel Umtiti started in central defense and looked very solid for the French club.

Other results on Tuesday include Zenit St. Petersburg defeating FC Nordsjælland, 1-0, FC Basel defeating Maccabi Tel Aviv, 1-0, Viktoria Plzen defeating Nomme Kalju, 4-0, and Dinamo Zagreb defeating Sheriff Tiraspol, 1-0. The rest of the first leg finishes on Wednesday.

QUICK KICKS

FC Barcelona has reached an agreement with EA Sports and their FIFA video game franchise to become the club’s official video game partner for the next three years. (REPORT)

QPR bad boy Joey Barton, who spent last season on-loan with Marseille, would take a 50 percent pay cut to play at his boyhood favorite club, Everton. (REPORT)

Bayern Munich President Uli Hoeness has officially been charged with tax evasion by the German authorities. (REPORT)

Galatasaray midfielder Wesley Sneijder has been left off the Dutch squad by Louis Van Gaal for their upcoming friendly match on August 14 against Portugal. (REPORT)

Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, and Ezequiel Lavezzi will lead the line in Argentina’s squad against Italy on August 14 in a friendly. (REPORT)

Former Real Madrid midfielder Fernando Gago has completed a permanent move back to his first ever club, Boca Juniors, in Argentina. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? What did you think of Neymar’s debut? Do you see Man United succeeding in their bid for Fabregas? Do you believe PSV can make it to the next round?

Share your thoughts below.

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22 Responses to Wednesday Kickoff: Neymar makes Barcelona preseason debut; Man United to make third Fabregas bid; and more

  1. Scweeb says:

    Any word a Shea?

    • ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

      I heard it was not as serious as first thought. That said, Matt Kassel should really stick to American football.

    • Clyde Frog says:

      From the rumblings coming from Philly it seems to have gone from, not serious to maybe serious to probably not THAT serious. Seems like his pre-season is done though, which sucks.

  2. Vic says:

    Manuntd are wasting their time. No way Barca want to sell Fabregas and no chance that he wants to leave.

  3. SanFran415 says:

    Cesc, his agent, and the coaching staff have said he is not for sale. His contract is not expiring. He is not a free agent. This is outright tampering at this point. How is this allowed? Is it that nobody is saying anything because it is Manchester United?

    There have to be rules against making repeated, highly publicized bids for a player still under contract who has publicly stated that he has no interest.

    • jlm says:

      since when is making a better offer tampering? every player has a price and especially with the way cesc has been used and the complaints he has made over the last two years, why wouldn’t united think they can get him for the right price? Also, the “he’s not for sale” line is used all the time and really has no meaning.

      • SanFran415 says:

        Barcelona rejected their first bid by saying he wasn’t for sale at all. They didn’t come to the table and give a number. They said stop doing this.

        Manchester United is ignoring what they’ve been told and just continually making bids–it’s become a huge media distraction to the players and club.

        • Annelid Gustator says:

          Barcelona rejected their first bid by saying he wasn’t for sale at all. They didn’t come to the table and give a number. They said stop doing this.

          They didn’t put their fingers in their ears and say “nyah nyah nyah.”

          More seriously: Barcelona, Cesc, and his agent said something. ManU isn’t obliged to do anything on that basis, unless bound by rule or law. And there’s almost nothing that would rise to that level when it comes to saying, however publicly ManU likes, “We’ll pay $XYZ for him to come play here.”

          • Annelid Gustator says:

            Obviously there are *some* limits, but “stop it you’re on my side of the seat!” is pretty weak tea.

        • wides says:

          United have every right to make as many bids as they want. And Barcelona has every right to reject them. Just as Arsenal can make as many bids for Suarez as they want, even though ‘Pool say, he’s not for sale. Just as Barcelona did in getting Fabregas from Arsenal. They did just as much stuff through the media as United is doing now. Can’t really cry foul when the club is as guilty as anyone.

          But, there’s nothing “illegal” about it. They’ve lodged official bids, no harm in doing that.

          And I’m not even a ManUre fan ;)

        • Jordan Smith says:

          Get your facts straight.

          From the BBC:

          Barcelona vice-president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, said: “It’s logical that we’ve had offers for Fabregas because he is a quality player, but he is not for sale. Whatever offer United make, however big, we will say no. Cesc Fabregas will stay a Barcelona player.

          “That United shows interest in Cesc Fabregas is normal. He is a truly great player, it doesn’t annoy us.

          “It gives us pride to have such a good player in our team that United want him because they are a great club, but whatever offer arrives from them we are not going to sell Cesc Fabregas.

    • Jim says:

      Barcelona may have said Fabregas is for sale, but neither Cesc nor his agent have made definitive statements denying that they have any interest. And when reputable papers in the UK like the Guardian are reporting that he DOES have interest, then that’s coming from Cesc’s people– just not directly.

      The reality is that this is a World Cup year. You have to be STARTING for a major club, and playing well, to force your way into your national team lineup. If Barca can’t guarantee that, of course Cesc and his agent will at least consider alternatives. So United is free to log as many bids as they want, because they believe there’s a chance.

    • Old School says:

      You mean like Arsenal saying Cesc wasn’t for sale routinely?

      Maybe Moyes believes Cesc has “United DNA”.

  4. Matt says:

    a bit ironic considering the tampering allegations folks made about Barcelona’s players during Fabregars’ tranfer to Barcelona.

  5. Ben says:

    I still get the feeling Neymar is Robinho 2.0.

    • jon says:

      I think he starts slow, looks like a bust for a while, but then sync ups with barca and shines mid to late season. will be a rough transition, but i just think he’s got more innate talent than robinho – just a very good player who was unfairly cast as the next brazilian phenom.

  6. SanFran415 says:

    ESPN FC Reporting that United are making another bid for 40m pounds (60+ million).

  7. Travis says:

    The people crying that United are tapping up Fabregas are hilarious. Need I remind you how disgracefully Barcelona acted when pursuing him from Arsenal? They very publicly tapped him up for I believe 3 years in a row, it was a joke and an embarrassment. Both players and management saying how much he wanted to be there and that he had Barca DNA, I have no pity.

    All that said there is no reason for him to leave, his importance to Barca is only going to increase as other key players age.

  8. Gnarls says:

    Barton would take a 50% pay-cut to return to Everton? No thank you. Roberto Martinez is a smart man. That will not happen.

  9. Jason says:

    I’m sure Roberto would LOVE to sign some twitterholic thug who still acts like hes 17 even though he’s 30.

  10. The Gamper Trophy match tomorrow may help clarify the Cesc Fabregas situation. I think he should stay at Barcelona because the team needs him and he has tons of potential but would not blame him if he decides to leave. Hence, the match tomorrow should give us some hints as to how Martino plans to organize the team and use Cesc.

    The other reason for watching the game, of course, is to see the home debut of Neymar – hopefully playing on the first team, alongside Messi et al.

    If you have a chance, check out my new Neymar website. link to neymarjr.info