Commentary

Brazilian's exit will have knock-on effect on Barca

The argument most consistently put forward for Neymar's decision to leave for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) is that he believes it is time to stand alone.

There is the money - he is set to become the world's best-paid player, his salary will reportedly double while his father will grow even richer, receiving €36 million (S$58.04 million) commission to go with almost €100 million he has been paid by Barcelona already - and it would be naive to dismiss that as a fundamental factor.

But status is not always measured by current account; shadow is a word used a lot of late and the one Lionel Messi casts is long.

That, at least, is the theory: Neymar wants to be on centre stage and lead; he can now play where he wants and how he wants, not have to adapt to others. If he stayed at Barcelona, it would never be about him and nor would the Ballon d'Or.

At the Parc des Princes, success would be his own; PSG would be his team, players brought to his specifications and he will be surrounded by his people, friends and countrymen.

It is true that Neymar's place to the left (at Barcelona) was not the free, central role he has with Brazil, something he is reminded of every time international duty rolls round.

It is also true that his best spell at Barcelona came when he took responsibility with Messi's injury.

Neymar's departure would be a huge blow that €222 million will not diminish entirely, not in this market and still less in the hands of this (Barcelona) board, mistrusted by many. The political impact is colossal... Neymar has his detractors, of course, but in all probability, his departure would also leave the team significantly weakened.

 

Emotionally, the desire for more is easy enough to understand, if not always shared.

Even in a team sport, ambition can mean going it alone and being the very, very best might feel like it is just within reach.

There is one flaw: Messi still exists and may be even more of an opponent now.

Last season, they (Barcelona) renewed Neymar's contract until 2021 and although he had talked to PSG, he said he was delighted to continue. If that was true then, he seems to have changed his mind.

Neymar's departure would be a huge blow that €222 million will not diminish entirely, not in this market and still less in the hands of this (Barcelona) board, mistrusted by many.

The political impact is colossal. Neymar's signing forced then president, Sandro Rosell, to resign and now in jail, more than he would ever say and more than he could ever imagine. His exit weakens his successor, Josep Maria Bartomeu, too.

Neymar has his detractors, of course, but in all probability, his departure would also leave the team significantly weakened.

Selling him was not the plan.

Barcelona will continue and, who knows, they may even emerge stronger. But they know how good he is.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2017, with the headline 'Brazilian's exit will have knock-on effect on Barca'. Print Edition | Subscribe