It looks like Neymar could be on his way out of Paris with Barcelona the likely destination as PSG have announced he can leave.
Neymar Wants to Go Back to Barcelona
When Neymar shockingly forced his way out of Barcelona to move to PSG, the reasoning behind it other than the huge sum of money he would receive was getting out of Messi’s shadow. If he were to realize his aspiration of being recognized as the world’s best player, he would need his own club. While the French League 1 is nowhere near the level of Spain’s La Liga, the club he chose, PSG, are a force in the Champions League. In Neymar, they believed they had the missing link to finally take them to that next level in Europe’s premier club competition.
Fast forward two seasons and it has all gone wrong for both Neymar and PSG. From the club’s point of view, they haven’t even reached the quarter final stage since the Brazilians arrival, a huge disappointment considering their expectations when they signed him. As for Neymar, his play has been good but not great and he isn’t even the most popular player on the team anymore. Instead he traded Messi’s shadow for Kylian Mbappe’s ever growing shade. There isn’t much he can do about that situation considering Mbappe is from Paris. It’s impossible for a foreign player to be more loved than a local kid who is on a similas level talent wise. While Mbappe might not have surpassed Neymar yet, it’s very close with a World Cup winner’s medal already on his resume.
That’s not enough to push Neymar out the door as the two of them seem to get along but it doesn’t help the situation. It seems like at this point, Mbappe is more likely to win a Ballon D’Or (World Player of the Year) than Neymar is considering he’s only 20-years-old. When you combine these factors with the off the field incidents, it’s easy to see why Neymar no longer wants to be in the French Capital. The complicated part is how does he get out when his buyout clause is something that very few teams in the world can afford?
Barcelona Seem to be the Only Possible Destination
He has yet to make a public statement regarding the situation but it seems like his preference would be to return to Barcelona. While the money the Catalans would have to pay is an obvious issue, another stumbling block could be hurt feelings. The way Neymar forced his way out has left a very bitter taste with some at Barcelona and it seems some resentment still lingers.
All of that aside, it’s impossible to deny that when he was at the club, Neymar was a key piece to a team that won La Liga Twice and a Champions League trophy. The “MSN” connection as they were called (Messi, Neymar, Suarez) played some of the most beautiful football the world has ever seen. It wasn’t always perfect but when it was good, they were the best team in the world.
Since his transfer fee is so high, the most likely scenario is that Barcelona would have to do a “cash + player” swap which would likely see his very close friend Coutinho head to Paris. It seems like Coutinho is ok with that idea as he has had a terrible time since leaving Liverpool. A fresh start in Paris while still getting the chance to compete in the Champions League certainly has to seem more appealing than his current situation.
Where Will Ernesto Valverde Play Him?
Something that hasn’t been brought up very much is what Ernesto Valverde do with Neymar. His football philosophy doesn’t leave much room for Neymar in the team. The way his team is set up, Messi plays the role that Neymar would prefer to play which means that he would have to settle for a place on the wing. It would be more defensive than when he played as part of a front three and it’s hard to imagine that he would be ok with that. There does exist a possibility that he would play Messi and Neymar as the two main strikers which would see Luis Suarez dropped to the bench. While Suarez is not the player he once was, he still might be more suited to lead the line better than Neymar who has never really shown the ability to play with his back to goal, something Suarez does to great effect. Considering how much Neymar would cost to bring in, Valverde might have to change tactics to accommodate Neymar as opposed to the other way around.
This is all speculation of course because as of right now, Neymar is still a PSG player until further notice. How will this saga play out? Nobody knows for now but it won’t end quickly considering the situation Barcelona find themselves in with Atletico Madrid and Antoine Griezmann. This is going to be the football soap opera of the summer.