If Neymar is really staying after the rollercoaster of drama that had Cules as conflicted as Gollum, it’s hard not to think he’s done a massive miscalculation by going the route he went.
Barcelona fans have turned against him in large numbers, and not entirely without cause. A poll in Diario SPORT found about three quarters of supporters wanted him gone. True, Neymar himself has not yet publicly claimed he is ready to move on, but his silence amid intense media speculation is, as they say, deafening.
Whatever he is angling for - more money, more influence over personnel choices, more money for his dad, whatever - he may get. But to what cost of his own reputation at the Camp Nou?
A lot of the things that were seen in the best possible light are now being seen in the worst possible light. It’s the Gollum thing again.
Sméagol: Neymar’s allowed a break! He loves his family. Let him go to his sister’s birthday party! He is our friend!
Gollum: No, no! Tricksy Neymar! How dare he disrespect us by leaving during matchdays!
Sméagol: Neymar hasn’t said anything in public. It’s all media rumors!
Gollum: Wicked, lying Neymar! Not to be trusted! Quiet while we suffer!
Except fans are now edging towards permanent Gollumness. If Neymar is staying, then he’s burning up a lot of goodwill he’s built up. He’ll probably recuperate it, after all, nothing is a better tonic than winning. But the short-term damage might be painful. And some may linger into long-term damage.
Ney better speak up and make his choice known publicly soon, or everyone might completely lose their minds. Or he might leave after all. Who knows? But even in that situation, out of sheer politeness if not gratefulness to the club, he ought to make his choice - either way - known very soon.
Time for planning for next season is running out.