Although rumours have concerned Neymar seeking a return to Barcelona, Fernando Duarte asks the question of whether the club he once betrayed really needs him?
Depending on which website you end up on, Neymar is either considering a move back to Barcelona or already looking around Catalonia for a house with a garage big enough for his fleet of sports cars.
In the last few weeks, speculation in the media over a supposed departure from Paris St. Germain back to the Camp Nou was a bit noisier than normal. All thanks to stories ran by Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo reporting the Brazilian’s desire to play the role of the prodigal son and forget the millionaire transfer that in August last year made him the world’s most expensive footballer.
For a second, let’s not discuss technicalities such as the fact that PSG has no reason to complain about the Brazilian in terms of productivity. And that Mundo Deportivo is known for very creative transfer rumours.
Let’s suppose Neymar has indeed expressed a desire to rejoin Lionel Messi’s gang. The big question here is not about the headache for lawyers and club directors at both sides. Instead, do Barcelona really need the Brazilian?
The answer is probably a “not really”. Yes, Neymar was part of the last Barcelona squad that lifted the Champions League in the 2014-15 season. But he was still around when the Catalans failed to get past the quarter-finals for two seasons in a row.
Would Neymar make Barca any better?
Barca have indeed struggled in Europe recently, but this is more linked to the departure of several players, not only Neymar. Dani Alves, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, for instance. These days, the Blaugranas seem poised to win their fourth La Liga title in five years and have recently destroyed Real Madrid by 5-1 in the first El Clasico of the season.
In Europe, Barca so far have sailed smoothly in a tricky Group B that has also Inter Milan, Tottenham and PSV. Only Manchester City have outscored them in the continental tournament so far, while at the domestic level they were the only team after 11 rounds to have a goal difference in double digits.
It doesn’t look like Luis Suarez and Messi have been struggling that much, especially after being joined by Phillipe Coutinho and co. And several Spanish football experts have also pointed out the dressing rooms seems much more peaceful since he moved to Paris.
Also, Neymar hardly endeared himself to supporters and the club with the way his departure took place – the Spanish media reported that he started negotiating with PSG as early as July 2016, in secret meetings.
“He is not coming back. There have been no approaches or meetings. (In 2017) he decided his future and went to Paris,” Barca president Josep Bartomeu told Radio Catalunya last month.
Ironically, if there is a club that really needs Neymar now is PSG. Despite all the evidence that 2018 was going to be his annus horribilis – 2018 World Cup histrionics included – the Brazilian has registered 12 goals and six assists in 15 games this season and put behind him all the reports of ego clashes with other famous colleagues.
While PSG are hardly in a comfortable position in the Champions League – they are currently third in Group C, they are still masters of their own destiny in the competition the club’s Qatari owners so want to win.
It’s no secret that they need Neymar to do so.