Neymar’s return to Spanish football has been mooted almost immediately since his move to PSG for a world record fee of €222 million. Neymar’s move to the French capital in 2017 did not raise a lot of eyebrows, as the Brazilian was clearly not happy playing under the shadows of Lionel Messi. However, he appears to be moving from the shadows of Messi to Kylian Mbappe, who has emerged as the real superstar at PSG.
Neymar has cut a frustrated figure in his last two seasons with the French club. Unsurprisingly, rumours about his potential return to Spain have persisted during most of the last two campaigns.
Now, Barcelona are growing very confident about bringing Neymar back to the Camp Nou. The club’s vice-president Jordi Cardoner claims that Neymar wants to make a return to Barcelona – despite being involved in a €26 million legal battle over unpaid bonuses.
Lionel Messi’s superstar status at Barcelona was not taken well by Neymar in his first stint at the club. However, it is highly likely that the Catalan team will shift its focus from Messi – even if he is extremely effective – given that the Argentine is now 32 years old. At 27, Neymar is certainly not the youngest around, but he is certainly much younger than Messi. Neymar’s ultimate ambition has been to pick up the Ballon d’Or award. The two years at PSG have not brought him any close to this objective.
The Brazilian has reportedly conveyed his wish of re-joining Barcelona to PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi. Predictably, the response from the president was not in favour of the move and it is reported that the pair are not on good terms.
The biggest hindrance for the Spanish club will be complying with the financial fair play regulations while trying to purchase the Brazilian. Even though Barcelona have generated around £50 million through the sale of Jasper Cillessen and Andre Gomes, it is nowhere near enough.
PSG are likely to demand around €300 million for Neymar, but they are likely to settle for just around €200 million. This would effectively require Barcelona to dispose both Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho – two players who have put an immense strain on the club’s transfer and wage budget. Philippe Coutinho has already been linked with a return to English football with Liverpool eyeing a reunion. Barcelona can tempt PSG with a player plus cash deal but it remains to be seen if the French team will be interested in getting Coutinho along with £100 million.
Barcelona will also have to convince Neymar to drop his substantial wage demands. The Brazilian is on a huge contract that gives him €37 million a year. Due to Barcelona’s decision to not let their expenditure on wages exceed 70% of their overall turnover, Neymar may have to settle for a contract that pays him around €21 million – a substantial drop of €80 million over a five-year period.
Is the lure of Barcelona so high for Neymar? It appears to be the case especially with Barcelona offering a better tilt at the Ballon d’Or award than PSG at this moment.