By Tim Stannard
Ousmane Dembele holds the key in attempt to reverse two years of history with Neymar's return to Barca
Two years ago, Neymar bought himself out of his contract for around $250 million to join PSG. It was a move that was not exactly part of Barcelona's plans.
Barca panicked, bought Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund for $125 million, a move that has largely been disastrous due to injuries. The Frenchman, while showing flashes of talent, has been unavailable for 50% of possible matches in his spell at the Camp Nou.
Barca decided to blow the rest of the Neymar money and a bit more on Philippe Coutinho and then Malcom. Coutinho was given on loan to Bayern Munich 18-months-later, and Malcom sold to Zenit. Antoine Griezmann was then signed for $120 million.
August 29th sees Barcelona having blown the Neymar money, and spent even more on top of that with not too much to show for it. But it could be getting worse. If rumors are correct then by August 31st, Barcelona may have given away Dembele to PSG - and Ivan Rakitic and $150 million in cash - to get back a player who is two years older and more injury-prone when he left.
According to the French press, Barcelona's latest offer from Wednesday failed to move PSG - that offer was $140 million in cash, Ivan Rakitic and Ousmane Dembele on a year's loan.
Making that loan permanent might be the key to finally putting an end to this sorry saga that will leave Barcelona looking pretty strong on the pitch but surely in tatters in the club's bank accounts as the club continues its attempts to close rips in the footballing space-time continuum from two-years ago.
Big teams look to avoid Champions League draw pot roast
Sports Burst's main curiosity in today's draw for the 2019-2020 Champions League is not necessarily what names will appear in the eight groups but whether UEFA will make it agonizingly long affair with montages and 89 former players drawing the balls, or get down to business fairly swiftly.
It's a bit like Groundhog Day. If it's the latter, then all will be well with the world until at least December.
As for the draw - these are the basic rules: 32 teams, four different pots of seedings, no two teams from the same country can face each other, Real Madrid will get an easy draw again and Neymar will miss the first three games through suspension no matter who the Brazilian is playing for. And literally no-one from any club will say - "actually, this looks a cakewalk, see y'all in the next round."
Sports Burst's token group of death combination is Liverpool, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Lille. The group of 'meh' is Zenit, Shakhtar Donetsk, Salzburg and Genk - a distinctly Europa League vibe to that possibility. The draw for that competition takes place on Friday.
The first Match Day is September 17th, 18th and the Sports Burst live show will be making a one hour move to 1PM ET / 10AM PT today to go through all the groups.
The Copa Libertadores quarterfinals wrap-up on Thursday.
Wednesday's Copa Libertadores action saw Flamengo book an all-Brazilian semifinal tie against Gremio by moving past Internacional, while Boca Juniors brought a Super Clasico ever closer by sealing the deal against LDU Quito.
River Plate now need to play their part with an away clash against Cerro Porteno with the Argentinean side holding a 2-0 lead.
That game is live on beIN SPORTS from 6:15PM ET / 3:15PM and is followed directly by the Copa Sudamericana semifinal second leg clash between the Brazilian giants of Fluminense and Corinthians which is currently nicely balanced at 0-0 from the first leg.
Kyrgios calls corruption as big seeds struggle
Sports Burst obsession Nick Kyrgios has gotten himself into trouble with the tennis bosses again, but it merely took a few words rather than smashing racquets, insulting the umpire or having a good spit.
I want to clarify a couple of things.... pic.twitter.com/wRCWcj3tJc— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) August 28, 2019
The fiery Australian was responding to a question about a $113, 000 fine imposed on him for the aforementioned behavior at the recent Cincinnati Masters and opined that "the ATP is pretty corrupt anyway so I am not fussed about it at all."
The player has since noted that his words were not the best, but complained of double-standards in regards to the unpunished behaviour of other players. Kyrgios is back in action at the US Open later today in a second round clash along with Rafa Nadal who might fancy his chances of a tournament victory with Roger Federer looking vulnerable and Novak Djokovic struggling with a shoulder injury.