It’s how he left

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 29: Neymar Santos Jr of FC Barcelona reacts during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Granada CF at Camp Nou stadium on October 29, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

It’s finally over (for the most part). Neymar Jr. was officially presented as a Paris Saint-Germain player as the summer’s most discussed transfer saga finally came to a close. The last two and a half weeks have seen a multitude of newspaper headlines, tweets and articles being written in discussion of his transfer: Would he do it? Surely he wouldn’t give up everything he had to go to a ‘smaller’ club? Was it all about the money? We’ve now had a little bit of time to absorb all the happenings and make up our own mind about the answers to these questions and a lot of the others doing the rounds on social media. The predicament this writer is in right now, however, is that being a fan of both the player and the club, it’s not those questions that are bothering him.

The fact of the matter is that as FC Barcelona fans we have been spoiled by some truly great players. Not just great in terms of skill, mind you, but in terms of loyalty and commitment. Xavi Hernandez, Carles Puyol, Ronaldinho, Dani Alves, Eric Abidal, Lionel Messi and many many more. These are players who not only would walk into any football team in the world, but also had a respect and understanding for the shirt which meant that there was almost never any question of them disrespecting the club or their teammates in any way. It’s a different story that some of their departures weren’t handled in the best way possible, but in spite of this you knew that they had an appreciation for the red and blue of the Blaugrana that ensured their commitment.

In this writer’s humble opinion (prior to the events of the past few weeks) Neymar Jr. was a part of that list. His arrival at Barca was full of controversy,  his transfer fee was substantial (for the time) and no one was quite certain as to exactly how he would adjust to his new surroundings. Adjust he did though, and every time he was on the pitch you could see he was enjoying himself, which is so important for a player like him. He was getting along with his teammates, he waving a good time on the pitch and was forming a special understanding with his mentor and the greatest player of his generation, Lionel Messi. When Luis Suarez was added to the mix Neymar hit cloud nine, benefitting immensely from the near telepathic connection the triumvirate had as he enjoyed his best season ever, culminating in a goal in the Champions League final that sealed the treble. He was on top of the world, playing like a dream and winning while doing it, as part of arguably the best front line in history.

FC Barcelona hasn’t exactly reached those same heights since that magical season, but it doesn’t mean that we haven’t been treated to some wonderful football recently, of which Neymar has been a huge part. From his brilliant goal against Villareal to his man-of-the-match performance against PSG, single-handedly orchestrating the greatest comeback in the history of the Champions League, he’s been improving and becoming more important to the team day-by-day.

This brings us to the massive 222 million Euro elephant in the room. Neymar, seemingly out of the blue, felt uncomfortable in Barcelona and after a few weeks of intense scrutiny and discussion he announced he was leaving and was recently presented in Paris. There are so many questions people have been struggling to answer: Why PSG? Why now? What made him decide to leave? Why hadn’t he listened to his teammates, who were practically begging him to stay?

All those questions are interesting enough in themselves, but what I want to focus on is how he left. In the eyes of thousands of Blaugrana fans who have been avid fans of Neymar Jr., he was a Barca legend in the making and the only choice to lead the team forward as Messi started to slow down. Not only did he prove us all wrong, however, he dented his reputation irreparably in a lot of our eyes.

We defended his petulance and immaturity, overlooked his father’s greedy tendencies and supported him through thick and thin, but not only did he let us down, he let his teammates down. He stayed quiet about his situation throughout the U.S. tour, allowed his teammates to face a barrage of questions that disrupted the team’s whole pre-season, listened as his senior teammates, legends in their own rights, begged him to stay and after apparently being convinced decided to leave anyways, attempting to ‘say goodbye’ in the midst of a training session. To add insult to injury, his father is now threatening to sue over the club refusing to pay him a loyalty bonus, for completing one season out of the five he signed on for in his renewal. Not only does this show his lack of respect for his club and his teammates; it also maybe confirms how his heart maybe never really was in the same place as the legends we have been spoiled by. Add to that the fact that Dani Alves very recently stated that Neymar convinced him to join PSG a month ago and you wonder how much of what Ney has said is of any truth anyways.

He has served the club well and was a great, great player for us, but his actions and complete lack of respect when dealing with this transfer mean that he will never be considered a legend. Being remembered as a club legend is about more than just being a great player. Neymar has the potential to be among the all-time great football players, but not at FC Barcelona. There’s a lot of debate surrounding this historic transfer but when the dust has settled what matters is not that he’s gone; it’s how he left.

 

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  • Dave Stevenson

    Fantastic article. Sums up my feelings exactly.

  • yaofengchen

    What do you expect Neymar to behave when he is negotiating with PSG during the month long period when he is still under contract? What would you have done were you in his place when you are presented with an opportunity to get out of the shadow of the perhaps the greatest footballer of all time? Yes. It is possible he may not win UCL nor the Balon D’or ever. I believe Neymar leaves for the prime reason he wants to put his name somewhere other than a understudy of Messi, a batmen and not Robin, You know as well as I do as long as Messi is around he will always be under his shadows. I do not believe for a second money is the most important motivation for him to leave.

    Yes the timing is questionable. But we shall see if his decision was a sound one. I have said before. His departure is a loss for both Barca and himself. Only a few players in today’s football world can take on opponents like he did on the left sideline the past few seasons. He will not be easy to replace. As a Barca fan I hate to lose him. I do not think any Barca fan want to see him leave. But he has to take care of number one first.

    Let’s cool off for a moment. What would you have done were you in his shoes? Would you announce to the public when another club approaches you with a lucrative offer and more importantly a chance to be your own man?

    • Oleguer Presas

      “Yes. It is possible he may not win UCL nor the Balon D’or ever.”

      Well, just read my comment above. The main reason why Neymar left Barcelona for PSG is not money. Its the fact that PSG are now stronger than Barcelona and Neymars chances for winning the UCL or Ballon d’Or with PSG are bigger than with Barcelona. Barcelonas squad quality has been dramatically decreasing for 2 years and the club is managed by a corrupt and totally incompetent president (Bartomeu). Barcelona are in decline and Neymar couldnt stay in that sinking ship.

      • yaofengchen

        Don’t get ahead of yourself reading your crystal ball. Yes, we are all dismayed that Neymar decided to leave Barca. But it is not the end of the day, Barca a sinking ship? Is that what you see in your crystal ball? The transfer market is not settled yet, let me remind you. And the season has not started.

        PSG may be exciting to watch this season if it can keep every current player on its roster. The Ligue 1 domestic crown is a dead horse, there is no point beating it. Will it go far in UCL? Perhaps. Will it win it all? Not likely. Will Neymar be more prolific in scoring without the little man spoon feeding him? I’d wager that he doesn’t.

        • Oleguer Presas

          “The transfer market is not settled yet, let me remind you.”

          Neymar is the second best player on the planet (after Messi) and thus absolutely indispensable. Whomever Barcelona sign, the replacement wont be good enough. Bartomeu prefers mass over class. He signs many mediocre players instead of a few with higher quality. Coutinho and Dembélé are going to flop monumentally. Im not reading any “crystal ball”. Im just saying what is obvious: Barcelona are f***ing shit and probably wont win any title next season.

          • yaofengchen

            I disagree Neymar is the second best player in the world. At least not yet. Even Suarez is more lethal than Neymar. I’d worry more if Suarez leaves. But I emphasize Neymar’s departure is devastating, no question. There are very few player’s (on any team) who can and willing to take on opponents the way he does on the left touchline. His free kick accuracy is also very good. But his strength, accuracy, balance, and the knack and feel for the goal is still not there yet. Naturally that does not mean he won’t get there soon.

            Keep in mind Messi at his age has already a number of Ballon D’ors under his belt.

          • Grega Kavčič

            Haha… a Neymar miss compilation would be 10minutes long.

            When he was unavailable Arda played better, missed less. The most Neymar brings is joga bonito and winding up apponents to loose their cool, which was beneficial but unpleasant to watch.

  • Oleguer Presas

    Neymar is right to leave Barcelona. This kid had to watch Real Madrid win 3 CL titles in 4 years. He had to watch Penaldo add 3 more Ballon d’Ors to his collection. What do you expect from Neymar ? That he enjoys getting destroyed by Real Madrid ? Neymar is a glory hunter. He wants titles and Barcelona arent good enough to win the big titles. Neymar is an intelligent guy. He has already understood that Barcelona are in decline. The club is a sinking ship ! The economic situation is miserable. The club cant sign big names because of lack of money. Barcelona’s president (Bartomeu) is a complete retard who is slowly destroying the club, while those stupid Barcelona fans rather criticise Neymar than him. So what do you expect from Neymar ? Staying in a sinking ship and drowning like an idiot ? Or going to PSG, a flourishing club that will definitely win the CL within the next 2 or 3 years ? I recommend Messi to leave Barcelona, too. For me, this club is on the verge of death. Barcelona will end up trophyless next season and Messi cant afford to lose another Ballon d’Or to Penaldo. I love Neymar and i totally understand why he had no other choice than to leave Loserlona. And Messi should be the next one to leave this sinking ship.