What Neymar needs to do to help seal Barcelona return
- September 10, 2019
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The Catalans had already begun ‘Operation Neymar’ back in November 2018, where they outlined exactly what needs to happen to push ahead with a deal
Barcelona have been interested in taking Neymar back to Camp Nou for some time now, and it remains up to the Paris Saint-Germain star to make things happen his end to help move along a possible transfer.
Goal reported back in November 2018 that ‘Operation Neymar’ was well underway, with club chiefs keen to re-sign the player that they had sold to the Ligue 1 champions for a world-record €220 million (£195m/$260m) fee back in 2017.
Indeed, the ball was put in the Brazil international’s court seven months ago and that remains the case today, amid suggestions of unrest and that he appears closer to a PSG exit than ever before.
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The French club’s owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi did not hold back when warning his star names that he won’t accept “celebrity behaviour” at the club, while he insisted that nobody forced Neymar to sign for the Parisians in the first place.
And one of Neymar’s big allies at PSG, former sporting director Antero Henrique, has now left the club and been replaced by Leonardo, who does not share the same affinity towards his fellow countryman as his predecessor.
The message in the Spanish press this week has been clear, with the sport pages dominated by Neymar’s desire to leave Paris. Mundo Deportivo went as far as saying he’s contacted Al-Khelaifi directly to tell him he wants “to return home”.
Ernesto Valverde’s squad would welcome his return, while there have been suggestions that the players would even prefer Neymar being signed to Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann.
While Barca will be encouraged by the 27-year-old’s situation at PSG and how all signs point to him wanting out, there does remain the stipulations that were laid out back in November to ensure a Camp Nou return.
Firstly, the Catalans are insistent that the player himself goes public with his desire to quit the Ligue 1 champions. Furthermore, short of an apology, they want him to accept it was a mistake to leave in the manner in which he did originally, with his behaviour and conduct at the time having been called into question.
A salary cut is also required, with Neymar reported to be the third highest-paid athlete in the world, earning $105m (£83m) in 2019, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Sources close to the player had indicated that the Brazilian would be willing to negotiate a wage reduction, with Barca not able to match Neymar’s current terms at PSG.
The most important request, however, relates to the various court proceedings that are present between both parties.
“If the war of lawsuits continues, it will be impossible for Neymar to return,” a director of the Catalan club told Goal back in November in reference to several court wrangles.
Neymar’s writ over an alleged €26m unpaid loyalty bonus still stands, with the club having refused to pay up after he left to join PSG. There is also a counter-suit from Barca over €30m in bonuses related to his contract renewal that is also outstanding.
If both sides are serious about pushing ahead with his return to Spain, they must bury the hatchet and bring an end to the various legal issues that are rumbling on in the background.
Should Neymar meet these conditions, then the Barca board will press ahead with negotiations with PSG over bringing him back to Camp Nou, where they could use Ivan Rakitic, Samuel Umtiti, Philippe Coutinho or even Ousmane Dembele as bargaining chips.
There is, however, the interest of Real Madrid to contend with too.
As reported by Goal on June 18, Los Blancos would be keen to explore a deal for the PSG star, albeit accepting that any move would be difficult, given factors such as the finances in question and the player’s apparent desire to return to Barca.