A few months ago nobody would dare to question Neymar’s future at Barcelona – the Brazilian was voted the world’s third-best player in January and was leading his team to an unprecedented treble.
It’s remarkable how quickly Barcelona fans and the media have turned against Neymar, to the point that it is widely expected that the trickster will leave in the summer.
The surprising shift in attitude mirrors the alarming dip in form from the Brazil captain, which has also led his critics to question his commitment to the Barcelona ethos, citing the exuberant attacker’s off-field activities during Barcelona spell of losing four in their last five games.
An online poll run by Catalunya-based daily newspaper SPORT, was designed to see whether Barcelona fans would support the idea of selling Neymar – to rivals Real Madrid or otherwise.
The poll conducted by the Spanish media outlet asked whether fans would want to sell Neymar should a club meet his €190million release clause (approximately £150m) and the results, from over 7500 votes?
62% of Barcelona fans supported the idea of selling Neymar.
In truth, the Nou Camp representatives actually have little-to-no power to prevent him from walking away. After Neymar’s contract was leaked to the public domain, Barcelona’s self-imposed financial restrictions prevent them from locking-down Neymar – with the new contract they have agreed upon – until June.
Barca’s director remains positive the forward won’t be leaving the Nou Camp:
“I have said it many times – we are delighted with Neymar. And Neymar will not be sold. We have not even thought about doing it.”
“When he signed for us, he took a financial hit as other clubs were going to give him more money. He came here to play because he wanted to play good football, alongside Messi, to win trophies.”
Jordi Mestre, Barcelona Director
Barcelona’s complex financial situation has lead many to think the Catalan club might be forced into selling the 24-year-old.
Barca are yet to organise a sponsor for the 2016/17 season and are currently engaged in the expensive process of renovating the Camp Nou. With both Neymar and the seemingly invaluable, Sergio Busquets both eager to sign new deals, it’s likely that savings will need to be made within the squad.
Spanish football expert Guillem Balague suggested that Barcelona are making the necessary arrangements for Neymar’s departure, should they be forced into a transfer.
“Is the club trying to put Neymar for sale? Not fully, but they are preparing the way in case they have to. The player’s side has got a clear timing. His contract will be renewed, they say, at some point this year.
“But the club is scared that might take the debt to new highs. He has flirted with the Premier League, but he wants to stay.”
It was only a matter of time before Barcelona’s ‘MSN’ trident-strike force took it’s toll on the wallet of Barcelona shareholders. Neymar, working alongside star teammates Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have combined to score 122 goals this season – that sort of return doesn’t come cheap.
Coupling the crippling financial weight of Neymar’s contract renewal with the shift in attitudes towards him from the Barcelona fanbase, the Brazilian may yet be heading for a Nou Camp exit…