Friday Kickoff: Neymar fit for Saturday’s opener; Arteta set for long spell on sidelines; and more

NeymarBarcelona1-LechiaGdansk (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Barcelona’s new signing Neymar is set to make his league debut on Saturday against Levante.

For the first time since the Confederations Cup, the Brazilian star completed a 90 minute game for his country on Wednesday, and on Thursday returned to Barcelona and participated in training without any ill effects. In addition, the 21-year-old has recovered from his bout with weight loss towards the start of the month.

Barcelona spent €57 million to sign Neymar from Santos earlier this summer, making the leap to Europe a season earlier than expected, with the World Cup in Brazil set for next summer.

Neymar’s fitness will be fully tested in the coming weeks as Barcelona have a busy start to the season. After their first match of the La Liga season on Saturday, Barcelona has two mid-week matches in a row against Atletico Madrid in the Spanish SuperCup before the end of the month.

Here are some more stories to get your Friday started:

ARTETA TO MISS UP TO SIX WEEKS

Arsenal may be forced to play reserve or youth players in the first team as early season injuries have taken their toll on the already thin squad.

Midfielder Mikel Arteta has been ruled out for up to six weeks due to a thigh injury. In addition to the Spaniard, Arsenal will be without a number of starters for the long-term, including Thomas Vermaelen and Nacho Monreal.

Arsene Wenger was given a boost though as Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott were declared fit for Saturday’s season opening match against Aston Villa.

MAN UNITED ENTER WILLIAN STAKES

While Liverpool are in the pole position, Manchester United have entered the battle to sign Anzhi Makhachkala midfielder Willian.

The Russian club is keen to sell-off a number of their players in cost reducing moves, leaving Willian open for a move to the English Premier League. Reports in England believe that Liverpool will have to offer Anzhi a bid of £30 million to open up contract talks with the Brazilian. The bid is £5 million less than what Tottenham had offered last January to Willian’s former club Shakhtar Donetsk, which was rejected.

Both Man United and Liverpool have missed out on a number of midfield transfer targets this summer, with Spaniards Cesc Fabregas and Thiago refusing to move to Old Trafford and Henrik Mkhitaryan and Diego Costa turning down moves to Anfield.

QUICK KICKS

Wolfsburg have confirmed the acquisition of Bayern Munich midfielder Luiz Gustavo, signing a contract through 2018, and beating Arsenal to the player in the process. (REPORT)

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell is in the center of allegations of fraud after reports that he was given money from friendlies played by Brazil, of all teams. (REPORT)

Fulham have signed England international Darren Bent on-loan from Aston Villa. (REPORT)

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan will miss at least two weeks due to a back injury. (REPORT)

The NextGen Series, a season long Under-19 tournament between some of the biggest clubs in Europe, has been suspended for a year due to lack of funding. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these developments? Do you see Neymar starting on Saturday? Do you believe Arsenal could sign cover for Arteta’s injury? Do you see Willian moving to the Premier League?

Share your thoughts below.

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17 Responses to Friday Kickoff: Neymar fit for Saturday’s opener; Arteta set for long spell on sidelines; and more

  1. emeka says:

    leave a reply

  2. SanFran415 says:

    United have really fallen… yikes.

  3. Ryan says:

    Fab didnt turn united down barca did.. thiago has even said himself united never made an official approach. . Awful reporting.

    • SanFran415 says:

      But speaking publicly for the first time since those offers were made, Fabregas rejected any suggestion he was ready to force through a move to Old Trafford. “My dream has always been to play at Barça and nothing has changed,” he said. “I’m very, very happy here and I never thought about leaving.”

      —-

      Cesc pretty publicly rejected Manchester United.

  4. Joe says:

    barca play sunday

  5. Mark says:

    Barca play on Sunday…not Saturday.

  6. YO says:

    Bent should be able to produce with the likes of Bervatov alongside him.

  7. Dawwilly says:

    What is interesting here is the limited pull that the Premiere league is having with respect to the transfer market. Outside of Chelsea, Man City, and a little bit from Tottenham, I would say the Bundesliga, Serie A, la Liga, and to some extent PSG are taking their thunder. I think the Premiere League will struggle mightily in Europe competitions.

  8. Travis says:

    In the name of all that is holy buy someone wenger, everyone around us other than united has improved. Missing out on Gustavo was inexcusable

  9. 2tone says:

    Is the EPL losing it’s attractiveness with players? Could be. If you think about it all European leagues take time off over Christmas while the Premier league trudges on. This could be a major turn off for a lot of players. Secondly, the Bundesliga has really become a very top class league which is drawing players away from the EPL. Lastly, The English media is just crazy.