Why Barcelona are ready to offload “party animal” Neymar
It will be the most stunning European football transfer since Real Madrid snatched Luis Figo back in 2000, and once again Barcelona will be the victims.
Neymar, poised to step out of the shadow of Lionel Messi and into the spotlight at the Parc des Princes, was the player the Catalans boasted about beating the rest of Europe to in 2013.But they are on the brink of losing him after only four years, for a fee that will smash the existing transfer record. It was Neymar who stopped PSG progressing in last season's Champions League. He starred in that extraordinary 6-5 aggregate win with a brilliant free-kick, a penalty and the assist for the 95th-minute winning goal all in seven sensational minutes.
It seemed to be the night he moved ahead of Messi as Barcelona's most important player. But the crown was not passed down the line. Neymar was sent off for a daft double caution in a 2-0 defeat to Malaga a few weeks later and when he sarcastically clapped the fourth official as he walked off the pitch he incurred a further game's suspension and missed the Clasico two weeks later.
Barcelona beat Real Madrid without him thanks to a 92nd-minute winner from Messi yet another reminder of just who was No 1 at the Nou Camp and how difficult it would be for Neymar to overtake him. As Barcelona's season faded Neymar also began to feel that the finger of blame was being pointed his way. He went partying with Lewis Hamilton the night of the 6-1 win over PSG. He had permission but four days after the celebration with the British Formula 1 driver, who he made friends with last summer on holiday in the US, he missed Barcelona's defeat to Deportivo through injury.
Cynics in Barcelona will dismiss the talk of Neymar moving for only football reasons. How can playing every week in the French League in front of 48,000 top playing the Clasico in front of 99,000? Will leaving Messi and Suarez's side really improve his chances of winning the Ballon d'Or? What if PSG's woes under Unai Emery are repeated this season and the French Cup is all they win again?
Neymar has cried wolf before with last year's rumblings ending with him signing with the club until 2021.When Barcelona lost Figo in 2000 they wasted the money on the disastrous signings of Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit among others. They will have to get their rebuilding right this time.Veratti will remain an option and Borussia Dortmund's Ousmane Dembele or Monaco's Kylian Mbappe will head up the targets as the Brazilian's direct replacement.
-No one is more abracadabra than Neymar, former Barca coach Luis Enrique once said Barcelona will argue that Messi still has more magic in his 30-year-old legs than the younger pretender.
Which is precisely why Neymar is now on the verge of leaving for the City of Light.