Two years on from a world-record €222 million transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain; Neymar has spent most of the summer plotting an exit from France. Les Rouge-et-Bleu have had enough of the Brazilian superstar’s lack of discipline and perceived lack of interest. The PSG hierarchy have a right to be disillusioned however, after a huge outlay in bringing him to France and his mammoth salary.
The 27-year-old started his PSG career brilliantly; with 28 goals in 30 appearances at the end of a first season shortened by injury. His petulance grew last season amidst accusations of a lack of respect for his opponents and showboating. However, the emergence of Kylian Mbappe who grabbed 37 goals and 12 assists in 37 appearances last season; struck a chord with the president.
Neymar’s behaviour on and off the pitch, regular injury absences and the celebrity treatment he craved; was in stark contrast with Mbappe who went about his business superbly with his feet firmly on the ground. The club announced it would only keep those who wanted to stay at the club in a clear warning to Neymar.
Camp Nou calling
The Brazilian does crave a return to Barcelona, with whom he won eight trophies and enjoyed an on-field partnership with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. The Catalonians are also in dire need of stardust having exited the Champions League in spectacular fashion for successive years.
Neymar undoubtedly had an amazing time in his first stint; his MSN attacking triumvirate with Messi and Suarez set and broke goalscoring records in Spanish football history between them. The assurance of increasing his Barcelona record which reads 105 goals in 186 appearances is exciting.
Barcą want Neymar and Neymar wants another club, but do they need each other?
Pertinently, he has not completed each of the last two seasons due to injury. Neymar’s last appearance on a grand stage- with respect to his Ligue 1 and Champions League Group stage opponents- was best remembered for his play-acting rather than his excellence on the pitch; at the 2018 world cup. The petulance and unsporting behaviour displayed at Barcelona has apparently grown and might well undermine his return. Tactically, Ernesto Valverde will have to fit in Neymar, Suarez, Messi and major signing Antoine Griezmann; leaving the squad light as Ousmane Dembélé and Philippe Coutinho might leave.
Although a return is wanted by all parties – including the Barça squad – the move would not bring happy memories. Neymar needs to get his act together to put his career back on an upward motion; perhaps a honest look in the mirror rather than a return to familiar surroundings might be the solution.
There are not many clubs in the world that are able to afford the Brazilian. He was offered on loan to both Manchester clubs, Juventus and Bayern Munich in the last month – all of which made it clear they were not interested.
That leaves just Barcelona and one other club in the running.
Real Madrid are also interested but it’s ultimately a decision of the highest bidder and the player himself.
Reports today suggest that Barcelona are putting together a bid that includes Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic – as well as a lot of money on top, we could presume.
It is thought that PSG are not interested in Rakitic, though a swap deal involving Coutinho could make sense – PSG get their problem child off their books and replace him with arguably a player who is a better fit for their system – and Barca make another signing that will keep their socios happy for another season.
But, and we have seen this with lesser name big signings in recent windows for Barcelona, going big – and this is the biggest they can go right now – isn’t always the best policy.