NEYMAR’S PSG SWITCH DOUBTS GROW
Madrid, Spain - Gerard Pique has sparked panic at Barcelona after appearing to backtrack on his 'he stays' tweet on teammate Neymar, target of a blockbuster transfer by Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). "Doubts, doubts and more doubts," ran the headline on Wednesday on the front page of Catalan daily Sport above a photo of the striker lost deep in thought.
PSG are trying to lure the 25 year old Brazilian to France and are ready to pay off his US$256.8 mn release clause and make the player the best-paid footballer on the planet.
Last week Pique took to social media to say "he's staying" - but when pressed on the matter on Tuesday ahead of a pre-season friendly in the US against Manchester United he was less sure of himself.
"It's a personal opinion from the conversation that I had with him and my intuition," Pique said. "But it's not official," he added. "And it's not for me to say if he's going to stay or not."
The position sent a shudder down the spine at Barcelona.
"Pique retracts and feeds the uncertainty," the newspaper Sport said. "The situation is eroding confidence at the club," columnist Tomas Andreu wrote in Sport. "What really hurts here is the silence of the player himself, which in the end says a great deal."
Neymar departed the stadium without addressing reporters after starring in a 2-1 win over Juventus on Saturday.
"It (the club) did not expect the negotiations with PSG and the player to go this far," he said.
At the same press conference, the Argentine defender Javier Mascherano said he had told Neymar to carefully weigh up the pros and cons.
Mascherano added all the players, including Lionel Messi, had spoken the player to ask him to stay. "He's a hugely important player for us, more than just his quality as a football player, he has huge value, his personal qualities within the group," Mascherano said.
After the win, Barca coach Ernesto Valverde reiterated his desire to keep Neymar at the club.