Neymar cleared to make PSG debut, as Barcelona struggles to sign replacement

Neymar cleared to make PSG debut, as Barcelona struggles to sign replacement
Barcelona's Neymar trains ahead of International Champions Cup at the Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey, US - July 21, 2017 - REUTERS/Mike Segar
Paris Saint-Germain fans may have extra reason to tune into Sunday's game against Guingamp. Neymar is officially available to play, according to French soccer's governing body, which confirmed on Twitter that the final paperwork to complete his world-record transfer from Barcelona had been received from Spain on Friday.

The 25-year-old Brazilian, for whom PSG paid more than $260 million, missed the team's first game of the Ligue 1 season last weekend because the Spanish federation failed to send the paperwork in time. The exact reason for the delay is unknown, however, French reports have alleged it was a planned delay on Barcelona's part.

"Are they waiting for the check for 222 million euros ($260 million) to be credited to their account? Have they decided, in a way to settle scores, to take the maximum amount of time allowed [to submit the paperwork]?" L'Equipe asked.
Under international transfer regulations, Barcelona had 15 days to submit the final paperwork to Spanish soccer's governing association, which would then move the paperwork to its corresponding organization in France.

It appears those conspiracy theories were all for naught, however, as the paperwork came through in time for Neymar to suit up on Sunday.

PSG Manager Unai Emery would not confirm the new No. 10 would play, however, although he noted on Friday (via the BBC) that Neymar was "physically ready to start."

While the situation between Barcelona and Neymar appears to have ended, the La Liga team's drama trying to replace its former star has just begun.

Flush with post-Neymar money, Barcelona apparently is keen to sign Neymar's Brazilian national squad teammate Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool. According to Sky Sports, the team offered more than $143 million to execute the transfer, but the Premier League squad rejected it to Coutinho's dismay. The player reportedly sent an email to the Reds informing them of his desire to be transferred. However, having just signed a five-year contract with the Premier League squad in January, with no release clause, Liverpool has full say over his future.

"Philippe has tried very hard to find an amicable solution to this situation but to no avail," a member of Coutinho's family reportedly told Sky Sports. "He has tremendous love for the club and its fans, but like Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez have pointed out in the past, Liverpool does not let its players leave on amicable terms."

Barcelona also apparently tried to scoop up 20-year-old French star Ousmane Dembele, who plays for the German side Dortmund, but the Bundesliga squad rejected the club's initial offer of roughly $118 million. Dembele reportedly skipped practice after Dortmund rejected the offer, which now has him serving a suspension with the club, according to ESPNFC. Dortmund has said they want no less than $150 million for Dembele.

Barcelona is set to kick off its La Liga season on Aug. 20. Before that, it will face rivals Real Madrid for the Spanish Supercup. It's unclear whom the team will choose (if anyone) to join stars Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in the front three, but soccer fans will likely be watching closely.