Neymar to Barcelona: Inside story of PSG striker’s summer transfer saga
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From Guillem Balague
Spanish soccer expert
After months of bluster, discussion, posturing, claim and counter-claim we now have - for now - reached at the end of the road. Neymar will be staying at Paris St-Germain.
Since the dust settles it might be well worth noting that the individual surprised by this is the PSG forwards himself who feared by day one this summer that it was a deal always destined to fail.
The minimum requirement for the successful outcome of any revenue transaction - be it to get a billionaire footballer with talent to burn or a yard of elastic - is either a buyer or a passionate seller, or rather both.
On this particular occasion, nevertheless, Barcelona felt PSG always thought the giants never ever wished to buy and the French champions never wished to sell.
This is the mutual mistrust that underscored the discussions from the start. Even by the conspiratorial convoluted and brain-achingly complex minefield that's football transfer discussions, it was likely to be a unwieldy bargain.
Thus, how can we get here?
In Aprilthe 27-year-old Brazilian - that moved from Barcelona for a world record #200m at August 2017 - started talks to revive his PSG contract.
Regrettably, there were quite a variety of little"issues" making him miserable promises PSG were not satisfying, boos from a number of the fans, a spat with fellow forward Edinson Cavani regarding who ought to take fines, internal divisions inside the camp, even a sense the Ultra buffs were keener on Cavani than himand the impression he was not being given sufficient coverage by referees.
Back in January, three fouls in rapid succession by Strasbourg's Anthony Goncalves - all of which merited - abandoned Neymar with the foot injury that kept him out. He wasn't impressed.
A few players exist in a gilded cage at PSG despite boasting one of the world squads, along with a lack of competition in a French Ligue 1 created a febrile atmosphere inside the camp.
Neymar loves Paris - who wouldn't? - and negotiated a new contract despite flirting for a while with a return to the Nou Camp and despite his misgivings. But then something occurred soon after Barcelona lost to Liverpool in the Champions League.
The captains of both Barcelona - Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Sergi Roberto and Luis Suarez - had been advised by president Josep Maria Bartomeu not only could the club attempt to get Neymar, but also that he was confident the player would come back.
Neymar was told by players he communicates with regularly (Messi, Pique and Suarez) the deal could happen and he was wanted in case Barcelona were to regain the Champions League. It got below the Brazilian's skin because he was not convinced by his own decision to leave the Nou Camp in the first place.
32, messi proposed - given his age - Neymar could come to be the middle of the Barcelona universe in a couple of years.
And so it began.
Now, senior Barcelona players were informed the club hadn't signed Antoine Griezmann out of Atletico Madrid forward - but their La Liga rivals had said they'd seen records confirming the deal had been agreed back in March.
The issue was that everyone in Neymar's camp believed Barcelona didn't possess the money - especially when, as they suspected, Griezmann was a done deal.
Barca needed to take a
six-month unsecured loan for 35m euros (#31.6m) from banks to bring in the France international, so one can just imagine the fiscal consequences the purchase of Neymar could have had for your club.
PSG sporting manager Leonardo, that returned to the club at June, muddied the waters to the point in front of everyone with dismissive comments about the Brazilian.
Leonardo realised too late he had crossed the line and backtracked by beginning the strategy of confusion and playing with the player's praises he has used over the past four weeks.
From the beginning, Barcelona believed the PSG officer was saying something to the player whilst following instructions from the owners of the club that Neymar shouldn't be permitted to leave under any conditions.
On Neymar, it dawned with no offer in Barcelona coming that the movement was not going to take place, so he agreed to play and and team officials met ahead of the first game of the season with. Prior to the match, Leonardo asked him to issue an announcement that he no longer wished to leave the day. Neymar baulked telling PSG although he was prepared to play but wasn't about to begin making announcements.
That isn't surprising. Messages were seeping out of Barcelona out of his telling him to hang on in there since it was likely to take place.
In actuality, Barcelona wished to show just how dedicated they were to doing the offer. The Catalan club whined the leaking of details of a visit to Paris of their decision manufacturers (but not Bartomeu) eight weeks back was not of the doing - but it did not hurt them because it showed them striving hard.
The bottom line was this: if Barcelona desired Neymar it was likely to charge them 215m euros (#194m). The Spanish team told PSG that players would have to be contained.
Eventually, on 27 August, Barcelona filed the only written offer they ever made - 115m euros (#107m) in money, 15m euros (Number 13.5m) in three and bonuses gamers.
PSG determined they had to become defender Jean-Clair Todibo,'' midfielder Ivan Rakitic (and reluctantly consented to move), also forward Ousmane Dembele on loanalthough the latter swiftly explained:"Non merci."
France global Dembele never went to proceed. At one point, intermediaries thought they might be able to change his thoughts, along with the player spoke to PSG boss Thomas Tuchel on four occasions, but the French team really pushed the matter using the 22-year-old or tried to discuss terms - that suggested to Barcelona that they weren't that interested in doing the offer.
Talks lasted. PSG began to um and ah about the make-up of the 15m euros at add-ons - but when that was agreed, they said they desired 150m euros (#135m) up front instead of 130m euros plus bonuses.
The reaction in a letter to the bar of neymar has been no issue. The Brazilian has been willing to pay the shortfall in five obligations of euros. However, a few minutes after his message came, PSG told him the French Football Federation failed to let payments to be made by players.
Real Madrid - that at the end said they weren't really curious - had stuck their heads and made an offer of #100m euros James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale and Keylor Navas. A look at Bale's salary was sufficient to put an end to that idea, and the Wales forward was not likely to proceed. In truth, PSG consistently felt Real wanted to get Neymar about the whengetting rid of some of their squad, and also give their fans when you get one that feeling of schadenfreude that comes.
Italian champions Juventus entered the fray, offering euros and Paulo Dybala - a bid that was rejected by PSG.
No more Premier League club created a strategy, though Manchester United had asked about the participant when he was at Barcelona with a buyout clause of 190m euros (#172m). Neymar determined against the transfer.
In the long run,"Spain" was the answer Neymar gave when asked where he wanted to proceed, indicating he wouldn't have minded going to both of those La Liga giants. He chose to not mention Barcelona or nowherethat when the deal went wrong as it did - he'd wind up looking silly.
Did Barcelona want Neymar enough? It's well worth noting when they needed to persuade Frenkie de Jong to signal in Ajax, the Netherlands midfielder was visited by Bartomeu to finish the deal. At no time throughout the Neymar discussions did Bartomeu match his dad, the player or PSG counterpart Nasser Al-Khelaifi. Additionally, among the first suggestions from Barcelona (not in written form) has been Philippe Coutinho and a cash figurethat was instantly rejected by PSG to be"laughable".
It felt just like Barca weren't putting their weight all .
In lots of ways it was a win-win scenario for Bartomeu. It didn't happen, so that he can now sew his shoulders and say"look, we attempted", plus those who did not want to have the return of a participant who's taken the club to court on two events have been kept happy.
Had it happened, despite the crippling financial burden for a club already estimated to become 600m euros (#543m) in debt, Barcelona believed they might have found a way around it. If they needed that to be returned by Neymar is.
In addition to needing to do a lot of engineering to allow it to happen - including getting rid of two of their most important earners - that the wage structure in the Nou Camp would have been a potential headache, because Barcelona are in the limit. No-one knew whether La Liga could have sanctioned the signing, given the limitations of fiscal play regulations of Neymar.
Negotiations were going to be more complicated by there being no buyout clauses in France. Interestingly, however Neymar will've been for three seasons in PSG and, according to Fifa regulations, can buy himself from his contract following there is a commission decided by a tribunal.
That may be the next step if things don't go for Neymar. But it's not all doom and gloom that will resume everything, and because he does a least enjoy a respectful and productive relationship with all PSG boss Tuchel.
The way the Barcelona players engaged now respond remains to be viewed.
For refusing to facilitate the movement, will Dembele be cast? How will those advised by the club feel about staying? How would the players that thought Neymar would be to strengthen them sense about his non-arrival? Will Barcelona reunite for your Brazilian - at a later date - this time with all seriousness?
Time will tell.
The Capture: A dramatic multi-layered conspiracy
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