Competition
  • Premier League
  • Liga Portuguesa

BARCELONA

This ludicrous Neymar soap opera is finally over, but questions remain unanswered...

In the end there was no Neymar transfer - he's staying at PSG after two months of speculation. We'll see whether the episode continues next year.

The transfer window closed at midnight and Neymar is still in Paris working in conjunction with PSG on a PR campaign which they hope will rebuild his reputation and restore his relationship with the club's supporters - at least for the rest of this season. And making up with the fans is not going to be easy after he spent most of the summer trying to leave the club. As for Barcelona, they've been left licking their wounds after their clumsy negotiationing damaged the club's prestige. They too have had a hectic summer, trying to buy back a player who left them in the lurch, pulling the wool over their eyes after renewing his contract and who when he left, decided to take them to court.

Barcelona board members met yesterday in the first meeting after the summer. We were expecting more details about the Neymar negotiations to emerge - an operation which from the word go seemed farcial - the only one who really believed it could happen was Neymar. It seemed it was orchestrated plot to appease a section of the Barça dressing room rather than a concerted effort to bring the Brazilian back. Now, the soap opera is finally over but it has left a lot of unanswered questions - questions which no one in yesterday's board meeting seemed willing to answer.

Griezmann and Neymar: two players, one position

We are still in the dark about many areas of the Neymar episode: for starters - who the hell requested the transfer? the coach? the technical secretary? the players? the board of directors? After completing the signing of Antoine Griezmann, nobody has given one single football-related reason to explain why Barça would need another player for a position they've only just filled. And that is very strange.

Just as strange is that, for a signing of such magnitude, there was no concrete proposal, in writing, until 27 August - just one week before the transfer window was due to close. We also must ask why, for such a strategic signing, wasn't president Josep Maria Bartomeu involved in the negotiations? And why was every single move and twist in the operation openly broadcasted? Were they sending a message to someone to show that they were genuinely  interested?

Barcelona cannot afford Neymar

No one in yesterday's board meeting came out to explain how Barcelona would finance an operation - a deal which would entail massive costs - completely unaffordable for a club who had to take out a loan to pay Griezmann's buy-out. And if the idea was to use other players as makeweights, why did they allow Coutinho to sign for Bayern while negotiations were still ongoing? Or maybe that was because they were not negotiating at the time? Another name which popped up was Dembélé. Why did they say he will be crucial to the team this season - and even that he is a better player than Neymar then that they'd be willing to trade him?

And finally Neymar, who appears to have believed the whole tale, needs to answer a couple of questions himself: why didn't he go public about his wishes to return to Barça? and above all, why did he not withdraw the lawsuit?