STILL MORE THAN A CLUB?
Barcelona left red-faced after Neymar tells teammates ‘he is leaving’
BARCELONA pride themselves on being ‘more than a club’. It’s written into the seats of their stadium.
But this summer the Neymar circus has shone an unflattering light on them and revealed a once proud institution as weak, directionless and suddenly very unconvincing on the world stage.
No matter how things finish up with Neymar, and nothing can be ruled out in this pantomime played out across three continents, it is clear that they have been given the runaround by a 25 year-old kid and his agent father.
Barcelona confirmed Neymar’s wish to leave the Catalan giants yesterday, but insisted the Brazilian’s €222 million (RM1.1 billion) buyout clause must be paid as his potential world record move to Paris Saint Germain moved a step closer.
“Neymar Jr, accompanied by his father and representative, communicated to FC Barcelona this morning his decision to leave the club,” Barcelona said in a statement.
“The club have informed them that the buyout clause in his contract that from July 1 is €222 million must be paid in full.”
Such a fee would smash the current record £89.3 million (RM506 million) Manchester United paid for Paul Pogba last year.
Neymar has also been given permission to not participate in training after making a brief appearance at Barca’s training ground yesterday.
Speculation over the 25-yearold’s future has dominated the first few weeks of new Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde’s reign.
Presuming both clubs don’t come to a late agreement, the buyout clause would have to be paid to Barcelona via Spain’s La Liga to free the player from the contract he signed last year and runs until 2021.
However, La Liga president Javier Tebas has threatened not to accept PSG’s money over what he perceives as a failure on the French side’s part to comply with UEFA’s financial fair play rules (FFP). Clubs can be sanctioned by UEFA for making a loss of more than €30 million over a three-year period.
“We will not accept this money from a club like PSG,” Tebas told Madrid sports daily AS. “Especially when this club is infringing rules and laws.”
If the deal is closed and the player leaves, Barcelona will need a replacement for the Brazilian forward but, just as at the start of the summer when their pursuit of Marco Veratti came to nothing, they seem incapable of coldly identifying targets and then swooping to get what they want.
No one has won the Champions League more times than them this century and across those four European Cup wins Barca became a byword for fantasy football. And yet they struggle to make signings and now, in the case of Neymar, to keep their most important assets.
Meanwhile, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has reiterated to Barcelona that his star player Philippe Coutinho is not for sale this summer.
The Catalan giants have earmarked Coutinho as one of their top transfer targets, but the Reds boss has insisted he will be at Anfield next season.
Valverde is eyeing a potential replacement for Neymar and he believes Coutinho fits the bill.
But Klopp has repeatedly rebuffed suggestions the Brazil international will leave the Merseyside club and has once more warned off his potential suitors.
“I can understand that Coutinho is so highly rated, but they can save their energy,” he said. Agencies
Neymar’s move to Paris Saint Germain has been heavily flagged in European media but has yet to be completed.