Barcelona appear to be more and more resigned to losing Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain and with good reason. As a club that continually lures top talent behind the ethos of “You don’t say no to Barcelona”, the Blaugrana aren’t in the business of begging players to stay, no matter how important they are to the side’s makeup.
Reports of the Barcelona hierarchy firmly leaving the decision up to Neymar and his father don’t seem farfetched. It’s astonishing that PSG have even managed to push the transfer this far since it’s been reported that it’ll cost the club, in total, over $615 million dollars, but, at the risk of us all moving into the woods and brushing our hands clean of humanity's upcoming self-annihilation, we needn’t go into the ethics of Qatar’s sporting investments.
For Neymar, a decision to hightail it to Paris would inevitably have something to do with a desire to forge his own path as a footballer (although this angle certainly reeks of fabricated drama) and make a s**t ton of money in the process.
It’s clear that Neymar will never usurp Lionel Messi as Barcelona’s main attraction (this isn’t FIFA 18, Neymar doesn’t just gain skill points every year and eventually possess a higher overall rating than Messi, the most remarkably singular talent of all-time), he’ll be in the Argentine’s shadow so long as he stays at the club.
But would Neymar be a worthy Ballon d’Or winner himself? Of course. He's that good, and he’s ready to carry the entirety of a team’s burden himself — he’s already shown that with Brazil, and he’s been phenomenal while doing as much.
At PSG, Neymar could receive the acclaim and the accolade denoting the world’s best player, but he’d have to win the Champions League to make that happen. That’s where all these mental exercises of prediction fall flat on their face.
PSG won’t win the Champions League in 2018 with Neymar. As they showed last season by spending over $100 million on Jese, Julian Draxler and Goncalo Guedes while selling defenders Lucas Digne and David Luiz, they’re just a lite version of Real Madrid’s first era of galacticos.
In their two-legged tie against Barcelona in the Champions League, I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I was more impressed by PSG’s rout in the first leg than I was by Barcelona’s heavily referee-aided comeback.
The attacking trio of Angel Di Maria, Julian Draxler and Edinson Cavani were all superb, but you need only look to the second leg to see where the club’s weaknesses lie.
Layvin Kurzawa and Thomas Meunier were slaughtered at the fullback positions, Adrien Rabiot weltered as the defensive midfielder, Blaise Matuidi was asked to defend but could do nothing of the sort and PSG haven't moved to rectify these failings.
In the first galactico era, Florentino Perez couldn’t be bothered with paying defenders large wages, preferring the marketable attacker to the entirely necessary midfield grafter. It didn't work for Real, who had a much easier time persuading players to join La Liga than PSG will in Ligue 1, and it won't work for the Parisians.
If Zlatan Ibrahimovic could score 50 goals in a season with PSG and Cavani 49, who’d bet against Neymar approaching the preposterous totals of 60 or 70+? Newly promoted Amiens, who play in front of 12,000 at the Stade de la Licorne, would certainly be in new territory coming up against the world’s third-best player.
But will annihilating Amiens really propel Neymar above Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the eyes of critics and commentators? Absolutely not. His play will go unnoticed, and probably derided, outside of the Champions League.
In the end, it's difficult to see Neymar getting what he desires, footballing wise, out of this deal.
For Barcelona, it's a potential hammerblow to their season and their future.