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Even if Neymar Stays, Barcelona Have Lingering Questions

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Namely, will he do this every summer?

International Champions Cup 2017 - Juventus v FC Barcelona Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Neymar is probably staying. I think. Let’s put it this way: I’m 400% sure that I’m 80% sure that Neymar is 200% staying at Barcelona and spurning Paris Saint-Germain. Time to rejoice, right?

Honestly, yes, kind of. There isn’t a player his age who is as good, not to mention, as marketable. Why do we care if he’s marketable? Well, on the pitch it makes no direct difference, but in terms of bringing in money to buy other players and upgrade facilities, it matters. Selling him to buy replacements could work, but it’s very risky. A lot of the top choices on the shopping list are not on sale, Marco Verratti, for example, or Chelsea’s Eden Hazard.

However, if he does indeed stay, Barcelona will be faced with lingering questions unless the team can get him to renew for a higher buyout fee. Much higher, in fact. Doing that will probably require another fat payment, maybe to his father and agent, Neymar Sr., or maybe to the player himself, or maybe both. But it might just be worth it.

This drama every transfer window is bad for the team’s long-term stability and planning. Having your fanbase turn against one of your main stars in such a dramatic fashion, like Barcelona’s turned against Ney this summer, is just not good for business.

It’s not good for the player himself, either, to become such a lightning rod for controversy. When you’re a star player, you should easily have your team’s fans backing you at every turn. Messi has that. Neymar doesn’t. Not even close. That’s not a good situation.

Some people will complain that fans are irrational and that players should be allowed to do what they want with their lives. That’s all true of course. But at the same time, I have a hard time believing this is the outcome Neymar wanted if he stays at Barcelona. Cules mad at him, Parisians mad at him, everyone mad at him, and in the same situation as he started. If it’s true that this is not how he hoped it would end up, then we have to recognize that his strategy was miscalculated.

Not to mention, now Neymar’s success is going to be contrasted with what Barcelona could have maybe gotten instead. Just watch if Juventus’s Paulo Dybala does really well for a period and Ney goes off-form. The comparison wouldn’t really have been top of mind if we weren’t so close to a different reality in which Dybala plays for Barcelona and Neymar doesn’t.

Personally I think most fans’ opinions can be changed back to positive as easily as they swung to negative. Some of the hurt feelings will fade over time if the Brazilian forward plays to the standard we know he can.

But what happens if the wound keeps being reopened every year? Maybe Neymar will have reached the point where he’s ready to settle down. But with the release fee still realistically payable - and it’s not only PSG who can pay it, mind you - the question will linger.