5 Times Players Linked With Barcelona Didn’t Turn up for Training

Writers, pundits and fans have longed fawned over the perceived Barcelona way, a style of football unique to the Catalan giants that somehow separates them from the rest of footballing world.  Control of possession, free-flowing offensive movement and a highly organised yet free flowing structure are all accepted as well known tenants of the Barcelona philosophy.  However, in more recent times Barça have quietly added a new string to their footballing bow. Barcelona now appear to possess the uncanny ability to get their transfer targets to stop turning up for training at their current clubs.  Here are some of the most infamous, recent examples of the Catalan club using this magical power. ​Somewhat of a trendsetter in all this not turning up to training nonsense, World Cup winner Cesc Fabregas was the first of Barcelona’s targets to decide that he did not fancy turning up for work for a few days in 2011, whilst under contract at ​Arsenal. ​Fabregas was club captain at the time and during the saga put out a number of heartfelt messages to the Gunners faithful, detailing how much he loved the club and how he was fully committed to his second father: Arsene Wenger.  These messages would prove to be, well… slightly disingenuous, as it would later emerge that captain Cesc had refused to train in order to force through a return to his boyhood club in August 2011. The second name on our list is no stranger to a bit of controversy. ​Ousmane Dembélé arrived at Barcelona via some behind the scenes manipulation.  In August 2017, the then 20-year-old missed a ​Borussia Dortmund training session prior to a DFB-Pokal first-round match against minnows Rielasingen-Arlen. I mean, what was he thinking? Who wouldn’t be up for a match in the Freiburg sunshine, against a club from Germany’s sixth tier? 12 long days would pass before Dembélé training-based protest would result in his desired move to Camp Nou. One can only assume that he spent that lengthy waiting period in a darkened room, ​playing Fortnite. ​Another Fortnite aficionado, Antoine Griezmann has recently taken inspiration from his fellow gamer Dembélé, and also decided that he does not fancy going into work for a while amid strong interest from Barcelona.  The French international failed to report to Atletico Madrid training on Monday, defying the club’s ​demands that he return to the club, despite Griezmann announcing that he wants to leave.  Atletico have hit back with a dramatic, symbolic gesture of their own, gifting Griezmann’s number seven shirt to recent ​record-signing Joao Felix. It seems that the 28-year-old has burned his bridges at the Wanda Metropolitano, and with the two clubs no closer to agreeing a deal for the attacker, Griezmann could be in for a very long and anxious summer.  Look at that smiling, angelic face. Surely that is not the expression of a man that would ever threaten to go on strike, in order to force through a move from the club who made him a household name? Think again.  Prior to Philippe Coutinho’s move to Barcelona in January 2018, reports suggested that he had threatened to refuse training if his desire to leave Anfield was resisted by ​Liverpool. He also withdrew from the Reds squad that travelled to ​Burnley on New Years Day with a suspiciously well-timed thigh injury. To be fair, that injury would rule Coutinho out for the first three weeks of his Barcelona career so at least the Brazilian didn’t feign an injury in order to get his dream move.  Neymar has learned some inconvenient truths over the past few seasons, namely that money is not everything and the grass is not always greener. He has failed to achieve his goal of stepping out of ​Lionel Messi’s shadow and seems further than ever away from securing the Ballon d’Or that he so desperately craves. Opting for a move to French giants Paris Saint-Germain may have seemed rather appealiing in 2017, but the Brazilian’s time at the club has been characterised but underachievement, squabbles and Champions League failure.  Sick of all this disappointment, ​Neymar is set on a move back to Camp Nou this summer. And how does he plan to get his way? By refusing to train of course.  The 27-year-old ​refused to report back to pre-season training on Monday but with Barcelona and PSG ​struggling to work out the finances of the deal, it is not clear what is next for Neymar this summer. 

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