That’s the report on Thursday from Sky Sports, which is less in the business of rag mag rumor-mongering and more in the business of actual news.
And if this is true, why hasn’t Paris Saint-Germain already said yes?
Two summers ago, PSG made Neymar the most expensive signing in world history and dreamed of Champions League trophies pouring into the French capital. They’d already conquered their own country. Now they wanted the continent.
Those visions have failed to materialize as of yet, with PSG stranded in the Round of 16 the past two seasons, first thanks to an unenviable draw amid Real Madrid’s unprecedented three-peat and then due to a howler of a second leg against undermanned Manchester United.
Questions have arisen over the 27-year-old’s inconsistent health and true potential as a No. 1 option, to say nothing of the far more serious sexual assault allegations leveled against him.
In short, the Neymar bubble is kind of bursting as we speak.
The tipping point perhaps came 10 days ago, when Neymar failed to report to training with PSG. His father and agent, Neymar Sr., said the club was aware of his “charitable obligations” and knew he wouldn’t be back until this week, but the headache prompted sporting director Leonardo to admit Neymar could be sold.
A fellow Brazilian and confidante, Leonardo making such a claim raised the collective antennae of the soccer world, and it didn’t seem to take long for an offer to materialize.
PSG should take even less time saying yes.
Taking strict stock, PSG will finish in the red on this deal. They paid $263 million for Neymar in 2017, and they want $251 million for him now, according to Sky Sports. Even with all parts assembled, payment plus players, there isn’t that much in value coming back from Barcelona.
But that’s not really the point. PSG is not only being offered a chance to get out from under the Neymar contract, but possibly improve their squad in the process.
It’s been speculated that Neymar doesn’t consider striker Edinson Cavani at or near his level, which has led to chemistry issues in the attacking trident that also includes Kylian Mbappe.
Here’s the thing: Mbappe is the future of PSG anyway, seven years younger than Neymar and already a well-rounded, lightning-quick striker in his own right. Most clubs don’t have the luxury of PSG, which despite its Champions League misgivings, isn’t that far from genuine contention.
Barcelona’s reported list of available players includes Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Ivan Rakitic, Nelson Semedo, and Malcom. Let’s piece this together for a second. Semedo could instantly step in for the departed Dani Alves as PSG’s right back, while Rakitic could steady the midfield, and is able to offer threat going forward while occupying the holding role PSG barely pretends to address anyway.
There are other combinations that make sense. Dembele’s ascent has slowed at the Nou Camp, but he’s still only 22, can play both wings and knows Mbappe from the French national team. Coutinho could stand for a similar career revival. And all that’s before considering what PSG could do with the $112 million they stand to receive.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact, either, that Barcelona’s interest is head-scratching. The Catalans just bought Antoine Griezmann, stretching their budget as it is, and Dutch starlet Frenkie de Jong, so they don’t figure to lack for goals and creativity with Lionel Messi still firing at a world-class level.
Worse yet, they’re bidding against themselves here. There’s something to be said for a fair offer and stockpiling great attackers, but not enough to compensate for creating an expensive market for Neymar’s services where it doesn’t exist.
And that’s just it. PSG isn’t getting this opportunity from anyone else. Many thought their scales would tip because of Neymar, and that might still be true.
Only not because of his signing, but because of his sale.
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