“He can leave, but only if the offer is huge: 300 million euros" were the words of Paris Saint-Germain's owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi, whose affection for Neymar Jr seems to be fading away. Amidst all the transfer speculations involving the 27-year-old Brazilian, PSG are stern that the price for securing their crown jewel will be higher than expected.
Once a heir to Barcelona’s throne, Neymar shocked the football world when he decided to traverse French waters in 2017. Although the disappointment of his departure was short lived, the impact of his egress from the Camp Nou was felt long after. Having just played two seasons with PSG, the Brazilian has been constantly linked with a move back to Barcelona ever since.
In order to neutralise the effect of Neymar’s exit, Barca brought Philippe Coutinho in the January transfer window of 2018. Much to the dismay of fans, Coutinho usually played out of his position and failed to leave an indelible mark like Neymar, who formed a lethal partnership with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez upfront.
"Barcelona never offered players for Neymar, it was PSG that asked for them. We did everything possible to sign him." pic.twitter.com/gWHKP836mv— totalBarça (@totalBarca) September 7, 2019
With Coutinho now loaned out to Bayern Munich and young Frenchman Ousmane Dembele’s uncertain future at the club, Barca were forced to go down a road already travelled. However, the Blaugrana made headway toward determining a strong case for Neymar’s return to Camp Nou, but PSG didn’t heed much interest.
The French giants also garnered interest for the Brazilian superstar from Real Madrid but the asking price was too much to splurge for Los Blancos. As Real went ahead and bought Eden Hazard to ease their attacking woes, Barcelona stuck on the pursuit of their once beloved star.
It’s not just a one-sided attraction; the inclination from Neymar to head back was crystal clear when he spoke publicly about the historic 6-1 comeback against his current team in the Champions League. This statement didn’t sit well with PSG’s fans as they were furious with the 27-year-old and their liking for their star forward diminished further.
But Barca knew that the pursuit of Neymar may be unfruitful. So, in order to re-build their attacking trident, World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann was bought to the Camp Nou by Blaugrana’s president Josep Bartomeu. Although, one could understand why Barca were adamant to get Neymar back on board.
Will be very interesting to see how the PSG fans will react if Neymar has to stay at PSG after all what happened with him saying what he said and after the fans abusing him with banners etc. pic.twitter.com/xQfbbYk3bd— t10_mario (@My_plug_is_off) August 30, 2019
The Catalonian giants have failed to lift a Champions League trophy since 2015, which was the season where the famous Messi-Suarez-Neymar (MSN) trio wreaked havoc. As per Barca fans, the Brazilian has been the missing link in their pursuit to Champions League glory.
But the Catalan club is now looking past their disappointment of signing Neymar this season and are looking ahead with a recharged squad with Griezmann, Frenkie De Jong and the teen prodigy Ansu Fati at their disposal. The failure to bring the Brazilian forward to Camp Nou may just bring the best out of their new signings, which can surely prove decisive in Champions League and other crucial fixtures.
With promising talents in their squad, Barcelona stand at the cusp of a hopeful season, and despite Neymar running down the pitch for them, they can surely expect a plethora of courage and belief from Lionel Messi and company.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Martin Bureau