soccer

Neymar plays hide and seek with Barcelona FC

Despite media speculation over move to PSG, Brazilian player has not notified his team of his plans

Neymar, during a publicity event in Shanghai.
Neymar, during a publicity event in Shanghai.CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP

More information

Barcelona FC seems to have accepted that, for the moment, it has little or no influence in the negotiations between its Brazilian striker Neymar and French team Paris Saint Germain (PSG). Barcelona FC representatives met with Neymar’s father, who is also the player’s representative, during last week’s pre-season trip to the United States. Neymar’s father laid out the French team’s offer, while distancing himself from his son’s decision.

“But that needs to be taken with a pinch of salt because it could be a diversionary tactic and he will look for what is best for his son,” says a source at the Spanish team of that meeting.

UEFA says if Neymar does move to PSG, it will investigate the operation in the context of its financial fair play rules

Since then, there have been two other meetings, but nothing is known of their content. In part this is because Barcelona FC insists that it has never been explicitly told that the 25-year-old Brazilian international wants to leave.

“The meetings were of no use, because although we suppose that PSG’s offer [Neymar has a €222 million release clause], we haven’t been told that he wants to play in Paris, so as long as the player doesn’t publicly reveal his intentions we want him to feel comfortable at Barcelona and we will fight for him to stay,” a source at the Spanish club says.

Following Barcelona’s successful International Champions Cup in the United States last week that produced wins over Juventus, Manchester United and, most importantly, Real Madrid, Neymar did not return with the team to Spain on Sunday night, instead flying on a private jet to China to meet various promotional commitments after spending the night in Miami.

Neymar has not spoken to the media about his plans since then.

In any event, Barcelona says it will not increase Neymar’s pay. “He renewed his contract at the end of last year, to June 2021, but his father didn’t mention more money.” Neymar’s father is due €26 million in the coming days as part of his son’s contract renewal.

“If PSG wants Neymar, it will have to pay the release clause, everything else is speculation,” insist sources at Barcelona FC. The club has also deposited the €26 million bonus due to Neymar’s father with a notary public, which is being seen as a precautionary move, because his resigning bonus would likely be amended if his move to PSG goes ahead.

So far, PSG has not contacted Barcelona about triggering Neymar’s release clause. “We have not spoken with anybody at PSG, so we don’t know what it will do should Neymar decide to go,” says a source at the club.

We want him to feel comfortable at Barcelona and we will fight for him to stay Source at Barcelona FC

Some pundits have suggested that Neymar’s wish to move to PSG may well be motivated by his desire to win the FIFA World Player of the Year award, which has been won in recent years by five Brazilians.

His career will be seen as falling short at home if he fails to join the ranks of Ronaldo, Romario and Rivaldo.

Since joining Barcelona in 2013, Neymar has played in the shadow of Messi, who has just renewed his contract with the side, so logic dictates that for him to stand a chance of becoming world player of the year, he has to be the most outstanding member of his squad.

Meanwhile, European soccer’s governing body UEFA says that if Neymar does move to PSG, it will investigate the operation in the context of its financial fair play rules.

English version by Nick Lyne.

More information