Two Barcelona players arrive for pre-season, despite being told to stay away 1 month ago

Two Barcelona players arrive for pre-season, despite being told to stay away

The Catalan giants returned for pre-season on July 4

Barcelona duo Riqui Puig and Neto turned up for pre-season medicals on Monday, despite being instructed not to by manager Xavi.

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The Catalan giants, who finished second in LaLiga last campaign after a disappointing start to the season, returned for pre-season on July 4, in what will be the club's first pre-season under Xavi's management.

While a host of players returned to the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper for mandatory medical tests, Mundo Deportivo report that there were a few surprise faces in attendance.

La Masia graduate Puig and reserve goalkeeper Neto were reportedly told not to show up this week as the club looks to sort out their futures.

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Xavi told the two players to return on July 11, which is the scheduled date for players who were involved in Nations League games to come back. It remains unclear if Puig and Neto were involved in Barcelona's afternoon training session

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Neto and Puig have struggled for game time

Puig, who was once regarded as a top prospect in Spain, struggled for game time under former manager Ronald Koeman after initially breaking into the first-team.

Many people expected the 22-year-old midfielder to flourish under Xavi, but that did not happen last season and the Spaniard made just 14 appearances in La Liga last campaign, only two of which were starts.

Meanwhile, Neto - who signed for the Catalan club in 2019 - has made just 21 appearances in three years.

While Xavi previously publicly praised shot-stopper Inaki Pena, who spent last year on loan at Galatasaray, Neto is reportedly planning to to honour his contract until 2023.

Laporta casts doubt on De Jong's United move

Joan Laporta, Barcelona's president, recently made a number of comments which appeared to place Frenkie De Jong's move to Manchester United in serious doubt.

The LaLiga club were said to be willing to let the Dutch midfielder leave in order to ease their financial troubles. United, it seemed, were set to take advantage of that, having what appeared to be a free run at the player.

Laporta, however, had some bad news. United aren't the only club in for De Jong and, even if they are, it doesn't matter; Barca aren't for selling.

"There are clubs that want him, not just United," he told reporters. "We have no intention of selling him, he wants to stay.

"Frenkie is considered as one of the best midfielders in the world by all the experts. We are happy to have him."

The idea that United, in a summer where they *had* to get their transfer business right, might have wasted their time and energy pursuing a player who they can't get will be hard to take for their already weary supporters.