This article is part of Football FanCast’s Transfer Focus series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent transfer news…
Neymar ended up staying in France despite his and Barcelona’s efforts to get him back to Catalunya, the place he left two years ago. But whoever thought the closing of the summer transfer window would signal the end of the sag was very wrong. Mundo Deportivo claim that Blaugrana will monitor the Brazilian throughout the 2019/20 season and will then decide their next move.
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But if he performs like they expect him to, they will return and try to sign him next year. The same Catalonian outlet also reported that Neymar will have a set release clause by FIFA come next year and that Barcelona, or anyone else for that matter, will be able to claim the player for €170m (£153.7m) if they wish to do so.
All of that suggests the Brazilian will have a higher chance of leaving in 2020 than he had in 2019. This might play right into Barcelona’s hands but might also spell doom for Ousmane Dembele.
It really does sound quite simple: if Neymar comes, Dembele will have little to no part to play in this team.
That much was already spelt out for him once he was reportedly offered as a bargaining chip in one of Barcelona’s last offers to Paris-Saint Germain. Even now, when there’s no Neymar in the team, Dembele is probably going to struggle to break into a starting XI that could plausibly boast Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann.
The signs are already there: Barcelona are slowly losing patience when it comes to their 22-year-old superstar and their second-highest purchase in the history of the club. Sure, Dembele can be slotted on either of the wings but both of those positions are likely to be occupied by one of the aforementioned superstars.
Maybe he gets some game time as a sub here and there but his struggle to remain fit alongside his youth and inexperience all play against him at the moment. Of course, those problems can be ironed out with enough time but it still remains to be seen whether Dembele will have the luxury of getting enough time to develop.
If Neymar’s potential return already threatened his role at the club, it could completely seal it come the next one.