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Neymar chaos leaves Barcelona reeling before Real Madrid showdown

Neymar chaos leaves Barcelona reeling before Real Madrid showdown
From ESPN - August 12, 2017

As Barcelona veer from one failed transfer move to the next in their desperate attempts to reconstruct a squad reeling from the departure of Neymar, they appear underprepared for the new season, which kicks off in intimidating style with Sunday's Spanish Super Cup first leg against old foes Real Madrid.

In these uncertain times, losing a key player and scrambling around to replace him, facing the supremely confident European and Spanish champions twice in four days is the last thing Barca need.

The Catalans may have had a far better preseason tour of the United States than Madrid, who they beat 3-2 in Miami as well as defeating Juventus and Manchester United, but all the positive feeling has dissipated since Neymar left and the mood as the campaign approaches is clouded by pessimism.

President Josep Maria Bartomeu put on a brave face at a fans' forum last weekby saying the club thought they were in a win-win situationas the Neymar saga was unfolding, insisting they would be in healthy shape thanks to the sudden availability of 222 million.

But their transfer dealings in the days that followed have been embarrassing.All has gone quiet on the proposed move for Inigo Martinez, while the club's attempts to bring in Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho to fill the void left by Neymar have left them looking like bumbling fools.

And that's before we even mention the disastrous pursuit of Marco Verratti earlier in the summerand its possible consequences.

The consensus after losing out on the title last season was that Barca needed two or three signings to be able to wrestle the league back from Madrid, above all a quality right-back and a dynamic midfielder -- maybe two.

So far, only Gerard Deulofeu and Nelson Semedo have arrived, leaving the midfield, which looked in major need of surgery last season, untouched.

First impressions of Semedo, meanwhile,are not exactly glowingand there are many questions about whether Deulofeu has the right attitude to succeed at Barca, even though he was one of the top performers in the 5-0 friendly win over Chapecoense.

Barca's dithering in the transfer market contrasts with the shrewd business Madrid have done in continuing to snap up the best young talent in Spanish football, pipping the Catalans to the signatures of Theo Hernandez and Dani Ceballos.

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