Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi has been in Brazil in for the last couple of days and there are at least two theories as to why.
One is that he was trying to sign young Palmeiras forward Gabriel Jesús for €24million and offload disastrous signing Douglas to Cruzeiro for €2m. The other explanation is that he was there to persuade Neymar not to leave Barcelona.
Paris Saint-Germain have promised Neymar the world in one final attempt to take him out of La Liga and into Ligue 1. If he moves to Paris, club president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi will make sure he is paid as much as Lionel Messi with earnings of around €23m a season.
Barcelona cannot compete with that figure, first and foremost because the financial regulations of the club’s own statutes limit the percentage of the budget that can be spent on wages, and the fact that it is already at the limit is partly behind the delay in announcing a new deal with Neymar before July 1 when figures when a new financial year kicks in.
At Barcelona he will take home closer to €15m if he signs a new deal and he will inevitably continue to be in the commercial shadow of Messi whose light shows no signs of dimming, and who could be about to win the Copa America – a competition Barcelona preferred Neymar not play in if he was also going to play in the Olympics in Rio.
PSG have also told him he will be among friends in Paris. Fellow Brazilians Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Lucas Moura and Thiago Motta will welcome him with open arms and off the pitch he will not be pursued through the courts over tax issues as he has in Spain.
If he makes his decision on purely football grounds then he will stay at Barcelona. La Liga is a far bigger draw than Ligue 1 which PSG tend to win at a canter only to then massively underachieve in the Champions League.
The team are still not sure who their manager will be next season with Unai Emery lined up but still waiting for them to sack Laurent Blanc. And for all the talk of him winning the Balon d’Or free from Messi’s shadow, he will not even be on the shortlist if PSG continue to fail in Europe.
Barcelona are not back in training for another month and Neymar will be busy trying to repair Brazil’s image by winning Olympic gold two years on from the failings of the World Cup so he will miss the start of the season anyway. Some Barca fans are concerned they have seen the last of him.