How Barcelona can make Operation Re-Sign Neymar II happen… from including Antoine Griezmann in a deal to selling Philippe Coutinho, Barca’s board have plenty of options to fund move for PSG forward (and keep Lionel Messi happy at the Nou Camp!)
- The front pages in Spain discussed Neymar moving to Barcelona on Thursday
- Is it a distraction or are Barcelona back in for their former player this summer?
- Sportsmail looks at whether this is another season of Operation Re-Sign Neymar
We are only in March but already Neymar has made it to the front pages in Spain. Barcelona’s institutional crisis lingers on.
Despite the denials that the club knew about a firm hired to monitor online news, putting negative stories on social media, president Josep Bartomeu is under-pressure.
On the pitch, they now trail Real Madrid after losing the Clasico. Sportsmail asks: Are the Neymar stories just a sticking plaster over the wound of that painful defeat? Or should we be gearing up for season two of Operation Re-Sign Neymar?
The front pages in Spain on Thursday morning discussed Barcelona moving for Neymar
Last summer a move for the Brazilian did not pan out but they might now move for him again
Does the board want to sign Neymar?
It’s a win-win for Barcelona if they manage it. They get the player most likely to persuade Lionel Messi to stay at the club. And they prevent Real Madrid from getting Kylian Mbappe because there is no way Paris Saint Germain will allow both of their star players to leave at the same time.
The current board know that and they also know that they will save themselves if they can make it happen.
Getting Neymar means making Messi happy, and that means Messi stays. An unhappy Messi refusing to commit his future to the club will almost certainly lead to elections and continuity candidate Emili Rousaud will not win those elections.
Sporting Director Eric Abidal would be out of a job. Little wonder then that he, more than anyone, is determined to succeed where the club so publicly failed last summer.
It would be a huge boost for the Barcelona board staying in power if Neymar were to sign
It would also make Lionel Messi more keen to stay at Barcelona going forward if he joined
Why did it fail last summer?
Because the attempts were half-hearted and because PSG had no interest in selling.
Those very public flights to Paris were good for the gallery but returning empty-handed was always going to be the outcome.
PSG did not need to sell Neymar and while his tantrums made life uncomfortable for coach Thomas Tuchel, the owners were never bothered by that. They had made their minds up that he was staying.
PSG had no interest in selling Neymar last summer, which scuppered Barcelona’s move
So has anything changed?
Both Neymar and Mbappe have contracts until 2022 so they are both closer to being able to walk away for free.
Neither has much intention of signing a new deal right now. If they decided to give in on one of their restless prize assets then it is more likely to be Neymar whose departure would seem less of a defeat. But they would still want recompense.
There was talk last summer of Neymar’s contract including a clause allowing him to leave in 2020 if the fee paid for him in 2017 is matched.
That still leaves him out of Barcelona’s reach. They would still need to factor in players.
Barcelona would have to factor in other players if they wanted to snap up Neymar
But player exchanges never worked last summer…
In part because PSG were not interested. But there was also a failure to convince players that they should leave and become makeweights in the deal.
This year there might be a new name in the game.
And that would be…
Spanish television Cuatro speculated this week that Barcelona believe Antoine Griezmann could unlock the door for Barcelona.
There is no question PSG would gladly take ‘El Principito’ to Paris. What would be more difficult to do is persuade Griezmann to move to France just one year after signing for Barcelona.
He is happy in Catalonia and in what is proving to be a difficult year for the team he has scored 12 goals and eight of that tally have been the goal that opened Barcelona’s account in the game.
PSG offering him the chance to play alongside Mbappe in France – for as long as Mbappe stays – might change his mind but there are no guarantees.
Barcelona would also let Dembele go but it is Griezmann who is more likely to soften PSG’s resolve to keep Neymar at all costs.
There is a belief that swapping Antoine Griezmann would unlock the door for Barcelona’s move
What else can Barcelona do?
Whatever happens they need to trim the squad this summer. Dembele remains someone they would offload if a club came anywhere near giving them the money back they spent on him when they signed him from Dortmund.
Bayern Munich have not ruled out signing Philippe Coutinho but will not pay the €120m (£104m) non-obligatory buy option agreed in his loan deal.
Ivan Rakitic will probably finally move on this summer. With only a year left on his contract he will not bring in much money in transfer free but it would be an estimated €8m (£6.9m) a season off the wage bill.
Ousmane Dembele is another player Barcelona would happily shift to re-sign Neymar
Samuel Umtiti and Nelson Semedo are others who could go and 20-year-old Francisco Trincao signed from Braga in January for €30m (£25.9m) could go out on loan to help oil the wheels of other deals.
There is also the hope that PSG will take an interest in Valencia’s brilliant 20-year-old Ferran Torres and that that will, in turn, also make losing Neymar more palatable. His buy-out clause is €100m (£86m) but his contract runs out in 2021 and if Valencia fail to make the Champions League as looks likely then they will need to sell.
El Mundo Deportivo talked up Ferran as a Barca prospect on Thursday but the idea that PSG will sign him and release Neymar is what really appeals.
Barcelona hope PSG will take an interest in Ferran Torres and be keener to lose Neymar
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