'It would be impossible to play games!' - Neymar rumours don't affect Barca, says Valverde

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Though speculation linking the club to a reunion with the Brazil star has been constant, the head coach believes his squad are used to the talk

Ernesto Valverde has denied the rumours of a possible Neymar return to Barcelona have affected his squad, saying they are used to such speculation.

The Brazil star’s future at Paris Saint-Germain remains uncertain as the Ligue 1 giants have admitted to talking about a possible sale of the attacker.

Real Madrid have been discussed as a possible destination for Neymar, having been long credited with interest in the PSG star.

Neymar, who departed Barca in the summer of 2017 for PSG in a world-record €222 million (£203m/$250m) deal, has also been mooted for a possible return to Camp Nou.

With the transfer window in La Liga open until September 2, the Neymar situation could persist for another few games, potentially providing distraction for a Barca squad looking to bounce back from a surprise 1-0 defeat to Athletic Club in their league opener.

But Valverde has dismissed talk of distraction ahead their home game against Real Betis, saying that while Neymar’s presence on the transfer market has raised hopes and expectations, the club are used to such rumours.

"Every time a market window gets open there's a big expectation and players like Neymar awake a big expectation as well,” Valverde told reporters. “What is happening is anything but boring, but he is a PSG player and we must focus on the game.

"We are used to living with these rumours. If they affected us, it would be impossible to play the games.

“This is a habitual thing here and it doesn't look extraordinary to me. We are used to it and we must live with that."

Valverde has been criticised by supporters the last two seasons despite coming away with back-to-back Liga titles.

European defeats after blowing three-goal first leg advantages in successive years to Roma and Liverpool, coupled with their loss in last year’s Copa del Rey final, have mounted pressure on Valverde.

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But asked about how he feels about his situation, Valverde believes he is fortunate to be in his position.

"Compared to a friend who is doing his holidays in Ibiza I am worse than him,” Valverde said. “But compared to another one who is living with adversity while saving migrant people in the Mediterranean Sea, I am so good.

“We are so lucky to be here."