Neymar wants to return but he's not a priority: Barca VP

Neymar chatting with former Barcelona and Paris St-Germain teammate Dani Alves, who replaced him as Brazil captain for the Copa America, at the team hotel in Sao Paulo last week. Injured Neymar is angling for a move away from the French club and retu
Neymar chatting with former Barcelona and Paris St-Germain teammate Dani Alves, who replaced him as Brazil captain for the Copa America, at the team hotel in Sao Paulo last week. Injured Neymar is angling for a move away from the French club and return to Barcelona. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BARCELONA • Neymar wants to return to Barcelona two years after quitting the club to join Paris Saint-Germain, but that does not mean the Spanish LaLiga giants are making his re-signing a priority.

At a press conference yesterday, the club's vice-president, Jordi Cardoner, revealed one of football's worst-kept secrets - that the world's most expensive footballer at €222 million (S$342 million) is angling for a move away from Paris.

He said: "What is correct, at the current time, what I have read, what I have heard, which seems exact, is that Neymar wants to come back to Barcelona."

But any offer for the former Nou Camp favourite would likely require the Catalan giants to raise funds through sales - with France forward Antoine Griezmann expected to join from Atletico Madrid for €120 million when his release clause kicks in next week, Brazil goalkeeper Neto signing from Valencia for an initial €26 million and Netherlands midfielder Frenkie de Jong's €75 million move already a done deal with Ajax.

Perhaps that is why Cardoner stressed yesterday that there had been no official contact with Neymar, reiterating that the club were not "working on recruiting" him.

NON-COMMITTAL

We are working on the phase of deciding which players we will not be keeping on next season. We are recruiting no one at the moment, especially not this player (Neymar) with whom we have had no contact.

JORDI CARDONER, Barcelona vice-president, on the Neymar rumours.

On the multiple Spanish reports which claimed that intermediaries between both teams had already hammered out the terms of the "verbal agreement", he said: "That is something I cannot agree with.

"For the moment, all that is happening - and not only with Neymar - is that a number of players would like to play for a great club like Barcelona. We will see what happens in timely fashion.

"It does not surprise me that Neymar wants to come back, it has already happened before with others and sometimes they have returned - Cesc (Fabregas), (Gerard) Pique.

"We are working on the phase of deciding which players we will not be keeping on next season.

"We are recruiting no one at the moment, especially not this player (Neymar) with whom we have had no contact."

Before joining the French champions in 2017, the 27-year-old Brazil forward had a four-year stint at Barcelona, winning the Champions League in 2015 and two Spanish titles in a potent attacking trio with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

However, Neymar's departure left a bitter taste and Cardoner has not forgotten the manner of his acrimonious exit. According to local daily Mundo Deportivo, one of the conditions Neymar will have to fulfil in order to facilitate a return is to make a public apology to the fans for leaving in the first place.

Cardoner hinted as much, saying "the circumstances of how he left also have to be evaluated to see if this can become a reality".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2019, with the headline 'Neymar wants to return but he's not a priority: Barca VP'. Print Edition | Subscribe