It’s a stunning move, frankly. One that we scoffed at the idea of when talk first sprouted. But now it would appear that Neymar will head to Paris St-Germain in a £198m move.
Neymar, for all his team success at Barcelona, is stratospherically ambitious. He made a point of taking Santos to new heights in the Brazilian league when not another player was lauded to his extent.
He did it again for Brazil four years ago at the Confederations Cup. Almost single handedly tearing Spain apart in the final, at the finale of a wonderful one-man tournament. A perfect audition for his move to the Catalans.
He wanted so much to be the man to do it at Barcelona. But for all the pressure he put on his own shoulders, he needed to play as part of team of glistening superstars to rival himself. Alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, they took the plaudits collectively so much that Neymar’s ambition must have been ruined.
PSG have had ambition running through them since they were taken over in 2012 by Qatar Sports Investments. Investments such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, and Angel Di Maria very recently.
PSG’s ambition is the Champions League. To add Neymar into the squad would represent not only an enormous on-pitch investment, but a corporate jackpot too. As the poster boy of Brazilian football, Neymar’s arrival will herald a plethora of advertising and shirt sales to make the £198m investment seem throughly justified.
Should he take to the pitch wearing PSG’s navy blue, he would surely dominate the pitch. He could take centre stage and focus on his ambition. He has won the Champions League, La Liga and the Copa del Rey. Missing from his collection are the World Cup and the Ballon d’Or. As a PSG player, both could be firmly in his sights as confidence and successful integration (alongside fellow Brazilians Dani Alves and Thiago Silva) could see his challenge to the Messi/Ronaldo duopoly more realistic than ever.
Goals And Assists
Since arriving at the Nou Camp, Neymar has been harmonious in partnership with Messi and Suarez. However, both the Argentine and the Uruguayan statistically outperformed him last season.
Goals and assists are the product of Neymar’s flair on the ball. A partnership with Angel di Maria and Edinson Cavani would leave the 25-year-old with plenty of help, but only just enough that he retains centre stage.
Where this leaves Barcelona
Bereft of their biggest investment this decade, the task to replace Neymar will be a lot more difficult than imagined. True, funds are available, and the lure of playing for the Catalans has seldom been higher. But the integration of Neymar alongside Suarez and Messi will be harder to replicate. So too the Brazilian’s love of Joga Bonito and speedy style out on the left wing.
Players like Eden Hazard and Philippe Coutinho will be mentioned, but the role Neymar played in the Barca XI will more suit young Borussia Dortmund star Ousmane Dembele. That being said, will Dortmund be willing to sell? And can anyone fill Neymar’s boots in the same manner?
They are not in a crisis by any stretch. Certainly Barcelona’s on-field achievements are hard matched by anyone around. Losing Neymar will be tough to adapt to, but could there have been any doubt he would spent his best years in Messi’s shadow?