Barcelona F.C in the last twelve years have taken the game of football to unprecedented level of excellence with their aesthetically appealing and result-oriented brand of football. And the club, in the same time span, has won all available trophies in their domestic ,continental and inter-continental campaigns.
The success of the Cataluña club has seen some players submitting transfer requests to their clubs in order to force their moves to the illustrious club. Many players have even accepted ridiculously low salaries just to play for Barcelona.The unbridled urge to play for Barcelona has been the undoing of some players in recent times.
When it comes players’s recruitment, Barcelona have a track record of cherry-picking talents from most clubs all over the world with little or no fuss. And no football club, in recent times, has ever successfully prized away of any their star players by offering better contract or by promising other inducements that footballers hanker for. Barcelona sell players if and only if they are surplus to requirement.
About a week ago, media reports had it that French football powerhouse Paris Saint Germain were on the verge of triggering a £196 m release clause in the contract of Barcelona’s Brazilian attacking mid-fielder, Neymar Junior.
News items similar to the one on Neymar are not uncommon in the football world. It is normally a ploy used by agents to manipulate clubs into giving their players improved contracts, an issue that will be discussed later in this piece.
However, PSG’s proposed move for Neymar now appears to be a story with some elements of truth , because of the reactions of Neymar and Barcelona to the report. Neymar has kept a studied and a seemingly conspiratorial silence over the issue. Normally, when news like this come out, as they often do, the player in question sometimes comes out to declare his loyalty to his current club in order to quell the rumour, but so far Neymar has been coy and non-committal over the issue. Barcelona, on their part, have been very fidgety over the matter.
Barcelona’s actions since Neymar’s proposed moved to PSG came out has somewhat lent credence to the speculation that the player’s transfer is possible. The club stated in a recent press release that it was left to Brazilian to decide whether he wanted the move or not. Perhaps in preparation to his eventual departure, the management of the club has been sounding some club’s out about the availability for their star-players.Barcelona have never been this agitated over the possibility of losing a player.
There are some probable reasons why Neymar has refused to come out and commit his future to Barcelona in the face of the rumour linking him to PSG. Let us consider the salient ones, one after the other.
A ploy for an improved contract
As stated earlier in this piece,whenever elite players want improved contracts from their clubs they resort to some time-worn antics that football watchers are all-too familiar with. And the commonest one is for the agent to feed news to the press that his player is angling for a move to a rival club. It must be remembered that this was exactly what played out before Lionel Messi signed an improved contract with Barcelona not long ago. And there is no way Messi’s new contract won’t set Neymar into re-examining his footing with the club.
Neymar would reason, in a way consistent with human nature, that whatever Messi did to get an improved contract, he also contributed in equal measure. So it becomes safe to assume that Neymar’s current posturing may be a means of pressuring Barcelona into giving him an improve contract.
Pressure from agent and other interested parties
It is a well known fact that agents make money whenever their players move to other clubs, especially in deals involving heavy outlays. The huge amount of money Paul Pogba’s agent received for brokering the deal that took the French player from Juventus to Manchester United is a classic example of how agents benefit from the transfers of elite players. And it mustn’t be forgotten how Neymar’s father , his former club and other partial owners of the Brazilian forward made a great fortune in the shady deal that brought him to Barcelona in 2013. These hangers-on are still likely to profit from any deal that takes Neymar to the Parisian club; they are still likely the ones putting pressure to bear on Neymar to ditch Barcelona for PSG.
The Desire for fresh Challenges
Barcelona have a relatively fixed way of playing football, a tactical approach which new players and new coaches must rigidly adhere to. This formulaic approach, despite the positive results it has yielded over the years, has a way of suppressing the inventiveness that hallmarks the game of flair players. Tied to their tactically rigid way of playing football is the way other players are compelled to play to the strength of Messi. This was particularly evident when Pep Guardiola coached the Catalan club – all the out-and-out strikers he bought were made to play from the wings so that Messi could use the central forward position to attack the opponent as a false number nine .The monotony of Barcelona’s style of football and the enforced subservience of the other players to Messi in the club’s tactical formation may now be palling heavy upon the Brazilian forward , who may now be desirous of that breath of fresh air that comes with a new challenge.
The need to remove himself from the shadow of Messi
To Barcelona fans world-wide, there is a lone god of their idolatry – and that deified personality is Lionel Messi. It will take a players with preter-natural talent to knock the Argentine forward off the perch he occupies in Barcelona and world football. Whatever Neymar exhibits in the field of play will always will be over-shadowed by the football wizardry of Messi.
Let’s look at the issue of winning the Ballon D’or, an award most elite players long to win in the course of their career; it stands to reason that it would be difficult for voters to consider Neymar while he is playing along side Messi in Barcelona.
Neymar may be of the opinion that his football genius would shine out in strong relief and that he would be better appreciated if he moved to a club where he is the star-player.
To end this write-up, reference must be made to a statement by Philippe Coutinho, whom Neymar have been egging on to join Barcelona . The Liverpool’s mid-fielder, while reacting to Barcelona’s interest in signing him said, not in so many words : “ If I joined Real Madrid or Barcelona, I will just be like any other player; but if I stay in Liverpool till the end of my career : they will build a statute for me ” It appears now that it has just dawned on Neymar that as long as Messi is fit and in-form in Barcelona, he would just be another player.
Perhaps this is the time right for Neymar to find a club where is talent will be seen in itself and not in direct comparison to another team mate. The choice to move to another club or to remain with Barcelona is all his to make. Let us hope he gets a statute erected for him when he will have ended his career on a high note.