It’s time for Barcelona to drop their long-standing interest in re-signing Neymar, and instead focus on other avenues.
Sporting director Eric Abidal opened the door towards another Neymar transfer saga on Sunday by stating the Brazilian “will always be an option” for Barcelona due to his understanding of the club’s philosophy.
The Catalan giants spent the bulk of last summer trying to re-sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain. However, he remains in the French capital to this day with a January move to Camp Nou unlikely.
It’s no secret that the 27-year-old has regretted leaving Barcelona from the very moment he joined PSG for a world-record €222m in 2017.
But the LaLiga champions couldn’t make an enticing enough offer to the Qatari-backed Parisians. The only way to re-sign Neymar was if Barcelona returned the same fee PSG forked out for him two years ago.
Since their failed attempt, however, the recent turn of events have convinced us a Neymar reunion is a bad call.
Injuries should be a big concern for Barcelona
We can’t deny that Neymar is one of the best players in the world in terms of pure ability. His endless array of tricks, feints and dribbling skills make him one of the most enjoyable ones to watch.
The Brazil international was also a huge hit during his four-year spell at Barcelona, where he managed 105 goals and 76 assists in just 186 appearances on route to two LaLiga titles and a Champions League.
While the stats still look impressive over in France, though, things career-wise have taken a massive blow. Of course, we’re referring to the wantaway attacker’s never-ending injury problems for PSG.
For a player who is edging closer to his thirties now, Neymar’s setbacks are becoming a real concern. So how can Barcelona spend a world-record fee on someone who hasn’t played a full season since 2016/17?
Transfermarkt stats showed us that injuries have sidelined Neymar for 353 days in the last two years. Therefore, he’s missed exactly 58 of PSG’s 130 games in all competitions.
The former Santos product also nearly missed the 2018 World Cup before a metatarsal problem ruled him out of Brazil’s Copa America campaign last summer.
And the recent hamstring injury blow against Nigeria last month is the tip of the iceberg in our opinion.
A Neymar return could harm Ansu Fati’s prospects
The PSG forward remains a popular figure within the Barcelona squad, with Gerard Pique recently disclosing that all the players offered to alter their salaries to help seal Neymar’s return last summer.
The Brazilian would likely go straight into Ernesto Valverde’s line-up in Catalonia as well.
On the downside, however, it could very well restrict opportunities for even Antoine Griezmann. Although some may argue it wouldn’t be a bad thing given the €120m summer signing’s struggles.
But Ansu Fati, on the other hand, is a different case altogether. The 16-year-old is fresh out of the famed La Masia academy, and he’s already made 10 first-team appearances this season alone.
This young promising talent can also play on the same left-wing as Neymar, and is just under 11 years his junior. Therefore, the one-time Spain international is clearly Barcelona’s future.
And, when you consider that it cost the Catalans next to nothing to develop Fati, it doesn’t make sense to prioritise somebody who may not have long left his career given all his injuries.
The ongoing legal battle
Despite being hell-bent on a Barcelona comeback, Neymar has still taken legal action against his former employers.
The former Blaugrana star is determined to recoup the €28.6m loyalty bonus in the contract he signed in 2016. Although AS reported in October that Barcelona have launched a legal case of their own.
They feel Neymar breached his new contract by joining PSG, and have demanded €75m in damages. We are sure this will count against him in his bid to return next summer unless he drops it altogether.
So, do you guys agree that it’s time Barcelona left Neymar in the past? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.