'Dembele is better than Neymar!' - Barca chief Bartomeu downplays return for PSG star

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The Camp Nou president was asked about the club's former idol returning - but he chose to focus on the Brazilian’s replacement

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has insisted "Ousmane Dembele is better than Neymar" when asked about the Brazilian superstar returning to Camp Nou.

There has been speculation Neymar - who left Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 - could play again for the Catalan giants.

But Bartomeu refused to address the issue when asked in an interview on Spanish radio station Cadena SER, instead lavishing praise on 21-year-old Dembele, who was bought to replace the one-time Camp Nou idol.

The Frenchman's early progress following his €105 million (£90m/$199m) move from Borussia Dortmund was hampered by injury, with rumours about the prospect of a Neymar return never far away.

But, when asked about Barca buying back Neymar, 27, Bartomeu said, via Sport: “I won’t say yes or no. I say that, with their money, Barca made a sporting bet.

"With that money, we went for players like Dembele and [Philippe] Coutinho. Dembele is better than Neymar. He’s at Barca and he is better.”

Neymar recently talked down the possibility of playing for Barcelona for a second time, telling Brazil's Globo TV via Sport: “I already accomplished my dream and everyone knows that was to play at Barcelona, my dream since I was tiny and I did it, so I feel a whole person."

And he refused to rule out the prospect of one day joining Barca's bitter rivals Real Madrid.

He added: “Enthusiasm to play at Madrid? They are one of the best clubs in the world, any player Madrid wanted would be attracted to play there. I feel very happy in Paris, really good here, but nobody knows what could happen in the future.

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“For the love of God, I’m not saying I will play at Real Madrid, calm down. I’m not saying that. Madrid are a very big club, any player with quality would like to wear their shirt.”

Neymar will miss PSG's Champions League last-16 second leg tie against Manchester United on Wednesday with a metatarsal injury.

The French side are 2-0 up going into the game in Paris.

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