Five reasons why Barcelona must not let go of Neymar

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – JULY 22: Mario Lemina #18 and Stefano Sturaro #27 of Juventus stop Neymar #11 of Barcelona as he tries to score in the first half during the International Champions Cup 2017 on July 22, 2017, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.PHOTO: AFP/ELSA / GETTY IMAGES

This has been one crazy transfer window and we’re not even half way through it. English clubs have been going all out in the market and splashing the cash, reminding everyone out there that they have the most lucrative league in the world. However, one potential transfer that has got everyone’s attention has been the dance between Barcelona, PSG and Neymar. The French club are making an audacious attempt to prise the Brazilian away from Barcelona and the story is getting a lot of traction. I’m going to list out five reasons why Barcelona cannot afford to lose Neymar.

Global superstar
Football has been dominated by two players for the last decade: Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi. These players have been at the pinnacle of world football for the last ten years sharing the Ballon d’or between themselves in that period. Neymar is the most legitimate heir apparent to those two and he might even break their dominance and snag the title of the best player in the world in the nearest future. Barcelona will not want to let go of a player that will become their most prized asset in a couple of years and who is already a global superstar. The Blaugrana pride themselves as a prestigious entity, more than a club, as they love to say and they have always possessed the one of the top two players in the world in their ranks at any given time, the likes of Johan Cryuff, Diego Maradona, Romario, Luis Figo, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Leo Messi currently, have kept that tradition going. Neymar is the one to continue that tradition.

Pivotal pitch figure
The Brazilian has to be made the pivotal figure at the club on the pitch and commercially. I’m not opining that he has to become the go-to player on the pitch or that Messi should be ignored to allow him shine, I’m simply saying that the dependence on the mercurial Argentine should be lessened and that responsibility should be shared by both players. We saw an example of that in last season’s amazing 6-1 victory over PSG in the UCL, where Neymar showed that he was ready to take on that responsibility. He basically took over the game and dragged Barcelona over the line that night in a three-minute spell that will forever be memorable to football fans everywhere. His superbly struck free-kick at the beginning of stoppage time put his team back into contention and he followed that up with an exquisite and accurately chipped back pass, into the penalty area, to set up Sergi Roberto’s winner in the last few seconds. He showed calmness under pressure, not letting the moment get to him, despite the frenetic nature of the game at that point. Barca cannot afford to lose such a player, who’s beginning to grow into his own.

It can be argued that if he had been at any other club than Barca or Madrid, he would have been their best player and by far their most marketable attraction. Just take a minute, close your eyes and imagine him in the red of Manchester United, do you now understand what I’m talking about? Sponsors will go absolutely wild given the size of the market in Brazil and South America. This is one major attraction why PSG are ready to splash the cash to get him. Neymar is one of football’s biggest stars and it would be a huge coup for the French team that has seen their ambitious project to be one of the top five clubs on the continent lose some sort of steam over the past 12 months with the exit of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, if they get him. Acquiring Neymar will give them a massive boost on and off the pitch and boost his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or as the team will be built around him in Paris. Barca are currently third on the rich list behind Real Madrid and Manchester United and losing Neymar might see them slide further down the Forbes list and affect their finances.

Neymar seems like he’s been around forever and it makes us forget the fact that he’s just 25 years old and approaching his prime. Barca cannot afford to lose him at this point of his career. It is scary to say that his best years are still ahead of him and that he has a whole lot of brilliant football in front of him. We have seen how he shouldered the responsibility and pressure at the Olympic games in Rio 2016, leading the Brazilian team to their first ever title at the games after the disappointment of the World Cup they hosted two years earlier (it could be argued that his pre-mature exit from that tournament with an injury contributed to Brazil’s ouster in that tournament). He has shown that he is comfortable of leading a team and taking up responsibilities at this age, which will only make him grow into a better player as he matures fully and hits his prime.

There is no sugar coating it, if Barcelona lose Neymar, it will show a vulnerability that could be exploited by other big teams. Rarely have we seen one of the top five teams on the continent being bullied into losing one of its most prized assets solely based on the financial power of the buying club and that is what we will be witnessing if PSG pull off this transfer. It’s a different case if the player is bent on leaving and demands to be let go (even at that, Spurs’ Daniel Levy will hardly budge), but when the pressure comes from the financial muscle of the buying club, then it calls for concern if a club of Barca’s stature are brow beaten into selling. The Brazilian’s buy-out clause is £197 million fee and if Barcelona do not agree to a deal equivalent to that amount, PSG will pay no tax on the buy-out clause. It is also unlikely that Barca Los can offer Neymar yet another new deal with an increased salary to match that on offer in France after just giving him a contract extension at the beginning of last season. The only thing Los Cules can do is to try and persuade him to stay.

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