It has been two years since Neymar left Barcelona in his pursuit of glory and joined Paris Saint-Germain. At that time, it looked like a rather weird move to any neutral – PSG’s dominance had made their own league frighteningly uncompetitive barring one year of Monaco defying the odds – let alone to the Barcelona fans.
The Brazilian was always meant to be Barcelona’s prince, an heir to Lionel Messi’s throne once the little Argentine genius calls it a day in the not so distant future. After all, all the signs were pointing towards it – the duo had an unbreakable bond on the pitch and also off it, including their companionship with Luis Suarez which finally gave birth to the famous “MSN” – Messi, Suarez, Neymar – trident. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Together, the trio conquered the world, clinching the coveted “treble” of trophies in a single season, the second time in Barcelona’s rich history and also staging that incredible comeback, “the Remontada“, against Paris Saint-Germain of all teams. Needless to say, they have written history on more than just one occasion but their relationship couldn’t stand the test of time.
In 2017, PSG triggered Neymar’s release clause, and for whatever reasons he might have had, the Brazilian answered the call. Finally, he was the sole star of the show. No Messi and no Suarez to share his glory with. It was his time to shine, to lead, to win and to write history in his own way, on his own terms. But fast forward a couple of years and once again he’s in someone’s shadow, his value stagnating, and chances of achieving that dream plummeting ever deeper. And his only way out? Barcelona.
And the Catalans were also not without faults of their own. Two Champions League embarrassments since Neymar left, a hurting fanbase, a squad hugely dependant on Messi and a generally bitter finish to the 2018/19, similar to the one the year before. Clearly, a mistake has been made by both sides. Or rather, it was Neymar who made the mistake and Barcelona, alongside the Brazilian, were paying the full price of it.
So getting the band together – a possibility that has been keenly discussed this summer – does not sound like such a bad idea, does it? Maybe not. If we look at things from a strictly footballing perspective then yes, this could indeed work. A player of such quality as Neymar would hardly make the team worse. In fact, he would most likely improve any team he joins. While that may be true, nothing is ever so simple with Neymar and there are certain reasons why this transfer would, in fact, make little sense for Barcelona. Let’s weed out the obvious ones.
First, the finances. By this point, it’s no secret – Barcelona cannot afford to bring Neymar back with a straight cash deal. Ever since they bought Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele, they’ve been stretched rather thin. Adding Neymar to that equation, alongside Antoine Griezmann who already joined the team this summer, would be equal to financial suicide.
Instead of balancing the books, which would be by far the wisest thing to do, they would add to it and then some. But while finances are the first and most likely the biggest thing standing between Barcelona and getting Neymar back, they are hardly the only reason why this mad pursuit should be cancelled altogether.
We also have Neymar’s recent injury problems and performance issues. When he’s fully fit and motivated, the Brazilian can possibly be described as still one of the world’s best but in recent times, getting him fully fit and motivated has become a tall task. Just in 2018/19, the 28-year-old suffered a total of five different injury problems, one of which was just categorised as “rest” but still made him miss one game for Paris Saint-Germain.
If you’re paying big bucks for a player, you want him to play week in week out and perform on the highest of levels. But in this regard, the Brazilian is still very much a “cat in the bag”. In other words, you never know when a sister’s birthday, fatigue or just laziness will stand in his way of playing.
And we can discuss how his numbers are still quite incredible, which they are – in these two seasons at Paris Saint-Germain, he’s played a total of 58 games, scoring 51 goals and assisting further 29 in the process. Those are crazy figures, even for Neymar’s standard. But then again, the most glaring thing that stands out is the number of games. 58 throughout two full seasons is not really that much, especially considering that he took part in multiple competitions per year, not just Ligue 1.
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And this brings us to the final point of why Barcelona should not chase Neymar this summer, or any summer for that matter, and that’s integrity. For all of his love, devotion and sympathy he presumably has for the club, the 28-year-old outright spat in Barcelona’s face with the manner in which he left. Not to mention the lawsuit he tried pinning the club down with afterwards, asking for more money due to a reported “loyalty bonus”. Talk about irony – asking for a loyalty bonus while you’re packing your suitcase to leave the club.
Barcelona may be going through some rougher times than they might be used to, but Neymar is hardly the answer to their issues. The sheer emotional baggage he carries, the dramas, the publicity and the past actions should deter the Catalans from chasing him any further. Accepting Neymar back would just send a wrong message to the public.
If anything, it would signal weakness, it would signal that the crisis at the Camp Nou is real enough and that the club is desperate enough to ask for Neymar’s help. He may have been their prodigal son but since then, he’s turned from a would-be king to a usurper, a false prophet, if you will.
Neymar may seem ready to admit his mistake but are Barcelona ready to accept the apology? That remains to be seen. Should they, though?
There’s only one right answer to that question – a resounding no.