Technically speaking, Neymar is still a Barcelona player. But were he to move to PSG, here are three names to fill the Brazilian’s boots
Ousmane Dembélé (Borussia Dortmund)
One of the players Barcelona has been linked to the most recently is French wonder-kid Ousmane Dembélé. The Borussia Dortmund winger is part of an elite crop of youngsters, regarded as the next bunch of world class players. Therefore, it’s no wonder that the Catalan club is looking at the 20-year-old.
Dembele, who joined Borussia Dortmund last summer after debuting in professional football in France for Stade Rennais in 2015, would reportedly cost $94 million. A fierce price tag but not a number that would scare off a club of Barcelona’s stature, especially with Neymar’s millions in the coffers.
In Dembélé, Barca would not get another superstar like Neymar but a footballer who doesn’t act like a spoilt kid every three weeks. The Frenchman is, despite his young age, already a stunning player who can fit in Barca’s star-studded team and might be the ideal player to replace the departing Brazilian.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Winner of the Premier League 2014/15 ‘Player of the Year’ award, Belgian international Eden Hazard is one of the best players in world football. The explosive winger, who is unstoppable on his day, has not made the switch to Spain yet unlike other Premier League superstars – Luis Suárez, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo to name a few, who blew everyone away in England and then decided to move to the big two in La Liga.
At 26-years-of-age, time is on Eden Hazard’s side as he is yet to enter his peak years. Whether the Belgian will spend those years at Stamford Bridge or somewhere else is still a mystery. One thing is for sure, in Hazard Barcelona would have the player closest to Neymar’s abilities. Quick, intelligent and prolific, Hazard is the perfect wide-forward.
The price tag would undoubtedly be enormous but with his qualities, Hazard would repay it. From Lille, where he emerged on the scene, to Chelsea, Hazard has just played his game and silenced his critics. Barcelona would be foolish not to pursue the Chelsea fan favourite.
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)
This list would not be complete without the inclusion of Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian has almost continuously been linked with a move to Spanish giants Barcelona for the past 18-months. And although Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp insists that his star player is not for sale, history suggests that such declarations don’t necessarily mean anything.
Luis Suárez, for example, left Liverpool and joined Barcelona six months after signing a lengthy contract and expressing the wish to stay at Anfield for a long time. But once one of either Barcelona or Real Madrid come calling, South American and South European players, especially, quickly make up their minds and want to move on.
In Coutinho’s case, it might not be the same. The 25-year-old was signed by Liverpool in 2013 after being overlooked at Inter Milan, who he signed for from boyhood club Vasco da Gama in 2008. Coutinho has become a fan favourite in Anfield and has seemingly built up a strong relationship with the fans. My guess is that Coutinho might be less tempted to move to Barcelona than Suárez was. Nevertheless, Barcelona should give it a go as Coutinho would certainly add quality to the side.