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Neymar Transfer Saga

From Paris St-Germain to Barcelona: a Puzzling Story of Neymar Transfer

Despite the millions of rumors, talks, fakes, claims, and counter-claims heard during the last few months, the final verdict is as follows: Neymar remains at Paris St-Germain. 

The PSG forward didn’t believe that the deal was going to end successfully. Nevertheless, after the hype around the Neymar transfer died down, the least astonished person is the main character of the story himself. 

neymar transfer saga

The necessary conditions for any sales transaction to have the most successful outcome – it doesn’t matter if it is a bitcoin or the most expensive footballer in the world – are either an eager customer or a concerned seller, or even better, both.

But in this situation, the trick was that PSG was sure that Barcelona was never going to buy, and at the same time, the Spanish titans believed that French champions were not even thinking about selling. So the negotiations were based on mutual distrust. Even despite the hard, exhausting and tricky procedure of Neymar transfer arbitrations, it was obviously a very massive and complicated deal to bring it to successful closure.

Now let’s revise how we got to this!

This year, in April, the 27y.o. Brazilian footballer – who moved from Barcelona to PSG for the price of 200m euros – initiated the discussion about renewing his French contract. 

neymar transfer saga
(Photo by Aurelien Meunier – PSG/PSG via Getty Images)

To his disappointment, there was a list of tiny issues complicating the deal: the heckles of his fans, internal separations in his team, a sense that he was not supported and protected enough by the referees. 

In January, due to three fouls made by Anthony Gonclaves from Strasbourg, Neymar got a foot injury that forced him to stay out for 18 games. Notice that every foul deserved receiving the yellow card, but none of them actually had. 

PSG has the fame of one of the world’s strongest teams, and there is a lack of competition in the French Ligue 1. This led to a tense atmosphere inside the squad. 

The president of Barcelona Josep Maria Bartomeu told the captains – Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Sergi Roberto – that he was confident that Neymar would come back.

Messi, Pique, and Suares – the players he communicates with regularly – told Neymar that the deal would occur under any conditions because they needed him if they were going to regain the Champions League. This struck a chord because the Brazilian was not totally convinced by the decision to exit the Nou Camp that he made before in the first place.

Messi, taking into account his own age (32), saw Neymar as the new central figure of Barcelona in a few years. 

Next, La Liga rivals openly announced that they saw documents which contained the confirmation that a deal with forwarding player Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid had been agreed in March. But at the same time, the senior Barcelona members were informed that Griezmann was not signed by the club. The concern was related to the fact that there was no money in Barcelona’s account.

neymar transfer saga

Barcelona had to take a six-month unsecured credit (35 million euros) to bring in a France international. Can you imagine what a hard financial operation the club would have to carry out to buy Neymar?

At the same time, after returning to the club in June, the director of Paris St-Germain Leonardo made the situation even more complicated by publicly voicing cocky comments about Neymar until the Brazilian stopped speaking with him. The sporting director soon understood that he had crossed the line and surrendered by praising the PSG forward and continuing his strategy of confusing he used before.

Without having any written offer from Barcelona, Neymar suspected that maybe the transfer wasn’t even going to happen so he met the club’s officials before the very first game of the season and gave his agreement to play. But before the match, he was asked by Leonardo to release a statement that he was going to stay in the club. The Brazilian rejected the idea by saying he was going to play but refused to give any public statements.

It is not surprising if you take into account that lots of gossips and different information came from Barcelona’s ex-players. They gave Neymar advice to stay in the club. Barcelona did their best to show their devotion to carrying out the deal. Though the Catalan club demanded to limit the amount of information about the trip to France, it did no harm to the situation because they showed themselves caring about the deal.

The final decree was as follows: to get the player, Barcelona had to pay 215m euros. On August 27, Barcelona made and submitted the only written offer: 115m euros (in cash), 15m euros (as a bonus), three players.

PSG wanted to offer Jean-Clair Todibo as a defender, Ivan Rakitic as a midfielder (they agreed to move with reluctance), Ousmane Dembele as forward. The latter refused the offer.

The intermediaries thought they could convince Dembele, so the player talked to Thomas Tuchel (PSG boss) 4 times, but at the end that went nowhere. That hinted that Barcelona was not really interested in the deal.

Despite all of this, negotiations continued. This time PSG insisted on 150m euros (not 115m anymore) plus bonus.

Neymar agreed and was ready to cover the shortfall (five payments, four million euro each). But then, after the message was received by PSG, he was told that the French Football Federation doesn’t allow the players to make such kinds of payments.

Suddenly, Real Madrid (who actually were not too interested in this deal) shoved up and suggested their own price – 100m euros and three players (James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale, Keylor Navas). PSG suspected Real Madrid wanted to get rid of some of their players and get Neymar cheaply. Juventus also intervened in the auction, offering 100m euros and their forward (Paulo Dybala), but were rejected by PSG.

Premier League clubs never made any suggestions. Only Manchester United showed their interest in getting Neymar for 190m euros when he was at Barcelona, but the Brazilian forward refused.

Neymar’s final decision was Spain. That was the answer the player gave when asked where he wanted to go. It sounded like he didn’t mind moving to any of the La Liga giants. Obviously, he decided not to say “Barcelona” in advance in case the deal went south.

Everything looked like Barcelona didn’t really want Neymar after all. One of Barca’s offers was (not written of course) Philippe Coutinho plus a cash figure, which was refused by PSG at once for being “laughable”. This occasion was very comfortable for Bartomeu because now he could say that he really tried to carry out the deal and it was the PSG who refused. 

Despite the awful financial situation at Barcelona (debt estimated in 600m euros overall), they would have found a way to return Neymar to the club if they really wanted to.

The wage system of the Nou Camp could potentially be a headache as well because of Barcelona’s weak financial situation. No one was sure if La Liga was going to accredit Neymar’s move.

It was obvious from the very start that the negotiations were not supposed to be an easy thing. What is really curious, Neymar has been with PSD for almost three seasons and next year he will have the possibility to buy himself out after paying a fee.

neymar transfer saga

This will likely be his next move if the things with PSG do not go well. However, he has a trustful relationship with PSG boss Touchel, which hopefully will help. 

How will those players who were basically told by the club that they were no longer required to feel about staying? Will Dembele be critiqued for refusing to move? Will Barcelona return for the Brazilian at a later date, this time with serious intent? How will the players who thought Neymar would play alongside them feel about the crash of plans? 

We shall see.

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