The summer’s longest and most unpredictable saga rolls on. No, not Game of Thrones, but rather the fall-out of Neymar’s incredulous move to the French capital. Here is a quick recap: Neymar shattered the synchronized attack of Barcelona and the MSN with a dazzling $264 million transfer to Paris Saint-Germain. He arrived to a rapturous reception at the Parc des Princes, and thanked his new employer with plenty of goals and assists against Guingamp and Toulouse in his first two matches.
Neymarmania is sweeping through Ligue 1, as the Brazilian enjoys a superlative honeymoon period in France. He is the new messiah, the talisman of a league hunkering for European and global renown. It’s also one of the motives why the Brazilian star moved to Paris. All his hunky-dory at the Qatari-owned club; not so at FC Barcelona.
The Catalans have been less than amused. They have been sulking in their little corner, pestering Philippe Coutinho at Liverpool, Ousmane Dembele at Borussia Dortmund, and a number of other targets to fill the harrowing void that Neymar has left. Still, Barcelona haven’t been satisfied. Their failure in the transfer market, the acquisition of Paulinho apart, is a reflection of the club’s blundering board room.
Mes Que Un Club sounds a bit hollow today. Perhaps the institution is no longer great. Tuesday’s redolent maneuver from Barcelona offered further proof a club in decline. The Catalans want to sue Neymar for €8.5 million in damages, plus the return of an undisclosed loyalty bonus paid to the player. The Brazilian had renewed his contract last October at Camp Nou.
Barcelona’s demands soon sparked a stern reaction and tit-for-tat statements from both Neymar and his new club. “It is noteworthy that this news was received with surprise, since the athlete completely fulfilled the contract then in force, with the full deposit of the amounts set out in the buy-out clause freely agreed with F.C. Barcelona for his release,” Neymar’s representatives said in a statement. In a further twist, the camp of Neymar disclosed it was planning to file a counter claim on the €26 million in bonuses that Barcelona has refused to pay.
The Brazilian’s whirlwind debut has aggravated the rift between the player and the Barcelona board. Neymar’s poor opinion about the Catalan board is no secret. “I spent four beautiful years there and parted happy,” said Neymar in the weekend. “But with them [the board], no. For me, they are not the people who should be there, for the direction of Barca. Barca deserve much better.”
Messi may well be thinking the same; the Argentinean has been recently linked to Manchester City. Hours after the Barcelona announcement of legal action, Messi published pictures of himself with Neymar on social media from the birthday celebration of Neymar’s son Davi Lucca. The board were, by all accounts, not happy.
Barcelona’s summer has been unravelling at a rapid pace. They can blame Neymar or they can blame Paris Saint-Germain, but it will do little to get the club back on track.