€222 million was the amount Paris Saint-Germain had to shell out to sign Neymar from FC Barcelona in the summer of 2017. The fee shook that entire football world and made the Brazilian the most expensive player in the history of the game; a record that still stands.
However, Barcelona has always been linked with bringing back Neymar to the Camp Nou, and this summer is no different. With the transfer window fast approaching, reports stating that the 28-year-old being keen on a return to Catalonia is doing the rounds. But the question is, do Barcelona really need Neymar?
Quique Setien wants Neymar
Barcelona manager Quique Setien recently expressed his desire to coach Neymar and insisted that he would be “delighted” if the Brazilian returns to the Camp Nou.
“I would love to be able to coach him someday. We are talking about an exceptional level. Fortunately, I have already fulfilled one of my dreams, which was to coach (Lionel) Messi but I would be delighted if Neymar comes.”
Although Setien opened the door for Neymar’s return to Barcelona, it remains to be seen if the La Liga champions actually have the resources to make the move happen, especially after financial implications that the coronavirus pandemic will leave on the football world.
Will PSG sell Neymar?
Barcelona will have to spend a lot more than they want to re-sign Neymar. The Spanish giants are keen on doing player exchange deals to land their targets in the upcoming transfer window. The Catalan giants are already in talks with Juventus regarding a potential swap deal involving Arthur and Miralem Pjanic.
But Paris Saint-Germain, who are not interested in parting ways with Neymar, will demand a significant transfer fee if they indeed have to sell the mercurial Brazilian this summer.
Given the current financial crunch caused by the COVID-19 crisis, it seems highly unlikely that Barcelona will spend a huge amount on a single player.
Is Neymar really necessary at Barcelona?
A lot has changed since Neymar left Barcelona for PSG in 2017. In a bid to nullify the void created by the Brazilian’s departure, in the same transfer window, the La Liga outfit signed Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund and then snapped up Phillipe Coutinho from Liverpool in January 2018 in mega-money deals.
However, both players have failed to replicate what Neymar did during his time at the club. While Dembele has struggled with injuries since his switch to the Camp Nou, Coutinho has struggled for consistency, with Neymar’s compatriot loaned out to Bayern Munich last summer after an underwhelming 18-month stay at Barcelona.
Since Neymar’s departure, Barcelona have been knocked out of the Champions League in embarrassing manners after failing to defend big first-leg leads in the latter stages of the continental competition in the past two seasons.
While Barcelona have won La Liga twice in Neymar’s absence, their failures on the European stage have hurt them the most. Neymar was at Barcelona when they won the Champions League for the last time in the 2014-15 campaign. The Brazilian will surely aid the Catalan giants’ ambitions of becoming the best team in Europe.
Neymar at PSG
Barcelona aren’t the only ones who have struggled since Neymar’s departure. Even Neymar’s world-record transfer to PSG hasn’t quite been a dream move. He has struggled with injuries and has failed to help the Ligue 1 champions win the Champions League. Despite maintaining PSG’s domestic dominance, the 28-year-old hasn’t challenged the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the Ballon d’Or as he intended to after his arrival in the French capital.
Considering the financial implications, the player’s market value and the two clubs involved, it is high unlikely that a deal will materialise this summer.
But if the finances and other aspects do permit, a return to the Camp Nou is favourable for both Barcelona and Neymar. PSG can also get a sizeable amount and/or good players in return. However, it remains to be seen if Neymar returns to his former stomping ground anytime soon.
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