As the hours tick, more and more wood is being thrown on an already simmering fire. After initially only emanating out of Brazil, outlets in France and Catalunya are now reporting that Neymar’s move to PSG may very well be in the works. Now, assuming all of these reports come to fruition, what exactly would Neymar’s departure mean for Barcelona going forward?
Let’s lay out the pro’s and con’s.
Money more evenly distributed – Let’s be real, €222 million is an astronomical figure. For that amount alone, Barca could reinvest in 3 to 4 extremely high caliber players. Trusting this board to find the right fits would be another question all together, but at least the option would present itself.
It’s also no secret that Barcelona currently have the highest wage bill in world football at an eye watering €313 million per year. This has been hovering dangerously close to the threshold mandated by La Liga that the wages of ones players cannot be 70% of the economic power of the club. With another €562 million expected to be invested in the redevelopment of the Camp Nou in time for the 2021 season, any additional funds could come as a welcomed investment for the club’s hierarchy.
Improving the team dynamic – Neymar’s seven minutes and seventeen seconds of divine intervention against PSG, which included two goals and an assist, were enough to book him a spot into Barcelona lore forever. It was a transformative moment. A moment in which the superstar said “Get the *bleep* out of my way, I got this.”
Left rubbing your eyes, you’d be lying if you didn’t think it: “Did this kid just become the best in the world?” Unfortunately, behind all of the brilliance, child-like petulance and bouts of immaturity are not always far behind. His red-card at Malaga a few weeks later did nothing to shed this reputation, while his lack of teamwork and tactical nuances have also left much to be desired. Valverde will have a tough task ahead of him and there have been doubts if he demands the type of respect that will get through to Neymar.
Beware of the Ronaldinho effect – Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Once upon a time, Barcelona possessed another mercurial Brazilian with unmitigated talent and a penchant for the nightlife. With the world of football seemingly at the mercy of his virtuosic feet, Ronaldinho had it all. He had brought Barcelona back to the pinnacle of world football, but it never seemed like it was enough. Late nights spent partying eventually took their toll, rendering a once incredible player to an out-of-shape shell of himself. Although Neymar has yet to reach Ronnie’s lofty standard, he isn’t trending far behind:
“I think you have to start by looking at what I do on the pitch,” Neymar said. “The moment I am off the field it’s my personal time. “I like to go out and have fun with my friends. I have family too so why can’t I go out to clubs? I can and I will. I am well aware what my duties are the next day. I am going to keep going out and I don’t see anything wrong with that.”
With a father for an agent and an entourage that are determined to see Neymar be the star of the show, ridding itself of this yearly summer spectacle could be the best option for all parties involved.
No true Neymar replacement – All summer Barcelona have flirted with the prospect of bringing Marco Verratti to the Camp Nou and, while the Italian is an incredible talent, there’s no denying that other players in the game can do what he does. On the contrary, there’s no left winger in the world that can offer what Neymar does. Masquerading as a wrecking ball to opposing defenses, Ney is able to create guaranteed opportunities for others game-after-game. His take-ons are almost always successful, resulting in other defenders dropping out of position to cover while leaving waiting teammates all alone. While Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele is probably the closest imitation we have in the sport, he is predominantly a right winger. Switching a young player’s position is always risky business, no matter how good he is.
The heir to Lionel Messi – Going on five years now, Neymar has been relegated to stand in Messi’s shadow. While that frustration is certainly palpable, there is no denying that the experience has done nothing but improve the Brazilian’s game in a myriad of ways. Since joining the club, he has a combined 185 goals/assists in 186 games. His influence continues to grow by the match and with Messi now reaching the peak of his prime, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the Brazilian’s team. Getting rid of him now would not only present a gaping hole, but it will undoubtedly increase the attention opposing defences are able to attribute to Messi.
Commercial value and trust in the board – The 25 year-old is one of the most marketable sportsmen on the planet, a hero on the world’s most football-crazed continent and the face of any number of huge brands. His presence alone attracts millions of eyeballs and sells thousands of shirts. Cutting that out of the equation could dry up imperative revenue streams and commercial appeal. For a club engaged in a death sport with Real Madrid and Manchester United for the world’s most popular footballing brand, selling one of your most marketable stars in his prime could certainly be a death blow. Equally as damning, the potential loss of a top 5 player in the world via a release clause would not only be embarrassing, but it would damage the credibility of a board that is already facing the ire in pockets of its supporters.