Welcome to NeyWatch, a series in which we catch up with the daily, often contradictory updates on the hottest story of the summer.
It was the best of times, and now it is the worst of times. Just a few weeks ago, Barcelona fans eagerly awaited the upcoming season, knowing that while their beloved squad needed substantial work in order to get back on top after a disappointing campaign the year prior, at least they still had Messi and Suárez and Neymar, the famous MSN, the most fearsome forward line the sport had ever seen. Hated rivals Real Madrid were ascendant, but all the money and trophies over in Madrid couldn’t buy them Messi—the greatest player in the world, the best of all time—or Neymar—Messi’s younger deputy and the player who could follow Messi as he led the team to greatness now and would later be the one leading the charge of a new era of success once Messi slowed down.
It was a joyous time, and hopefully the fans savored every minute of it, because now it is gone. Barcelona released a statement today confirming what we all knew was coming, that Neymar wants out and the club will not stand in his way:
The player Neymar Jr, accompanied by his father and agent, has informed FC Barcelona this morning of his decision to leave the Club in a meeting held at the Club’s offices.
Faced with this position, the Club has informed them they refer to the buy-out clause of his existing contract which as of 1 July totals 222 million euros which will have to be deposited in its entirety.
Furthermore, in reply to the claim for the contract extension bonus, the Club has once again made it clear that the amount remains deposited with a notary until the case is resolved.
The player remains under contract at FC Barcelona but with temporary permission to not take part in training sessions.
The statement intimates that Barça still plan to play hardball with PSG and Neymar. For one, Barcelona reestablished their position that they don’t plan to let Neymar go unless his release clause is paid in full. This reads more like a negotiation tactic than anything else, as my expectation is that ultimately they’ll cut a cash-plus-player transfer deal with PSG.
They also bring up the controversy surrounding the €26 million contract extension bonus that is owed to Neymar’s dad under the terms of Neymar’s most recent contract renewal. That bonus was set to go through this week, which would’ve been yet another costly embarrassment, as Barça would’ve paid a huge sum to Papa Neymar one day, and on the next watched the Neymars leave town for Paris to collect another huge signing bonus for the elder Neymar. The club’s current plan is to park that money with a third party while they determine whether they’ll have to pay the full amount or only a prorated amount, seeing as Neymar only lasted one of the five years of the contract’s duration before he sought to get out of it by reaching out to PSG.
This does not spell the end of NeyWatch, since there is still a whole lot of work to do to actually get Neymar onto PSG’s roster. There will be more than enough time to think about all that stuff, but for right now, let us follow in the footsteps of Messi’s farewell message to his teammate and friend on Instagram and simply remember the good times:
(Translation of the caption: “It was a great pleasure to have shared all these years with you, Neymar my friend. I wish you lots of luck in this new stage of your life. See ya.”)
Neymar and Barcelona had something great, and it will be missed.