Since Neymar’s departure in 2017, to the Ligue 1 outfit Paris Saint-Germain, not a single year has gone by where he hasn’t been linked to a move back to Barcelona. However, this season, the rumor has come up twice, with Barcelona reportedly reigniting their interest in the winger, despite his future at the French capital looking close to certain.
French media outlet L’Equipe reported that Neymar had allegedly frozen his contract talks with PSG amidst uncertainty over his future. Naturally, this report opened up speculations that the 29-year-old was hoping for a return to Barcelona to play with his former teammate Lionel Messi, despite the Catalans finding themselves in a dire financial situation.
Likely prompted by the difficult financial situation caused by the pandemic, Barcelona allegedly told the Brazilian to wait another year and come to the Catalan side on a free in 2022, when his contract expires. For the time being, Barcelona has to fill in their number 9 position left vacated by Luis Suarez’s departure, and the signing of a winger when that position has significant depth in Ronald Koeman’s squad would make little sense.
Fabrizio Romano, however, within that week, reported that the 29-year-old will be staying in France via a massive contract running till June 2026, with a huge UCL bonus. In an interview with TNT Sports following PSG’s win over former champions Bayern Munich, Neymar himself declared his satisfaction at Paris:
“The contract extension with PSG is no longer a topic. It’s obvious that I feel at ease and at home here at Paris Saint-Germain. I feel much happier than I was before.”
Despite the Brazilian winger’s reported dissatisfaction at the French capital through the years, it seemed as though he would finally extend his contract and commit to the Parisians. That was, at least, according to PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who stated:
“I think Neymar will stay here for a very long time. We’re going to invest a lot in the club, and Neymar and Mbappé have no excuse to leave.”
The Neymar transfer saga, which seemed to keep coming back every season, appeared to have finally been quelled with his statement for good. That is until a recent report from the reliable RAC1 suggested that the Catalans have informed the winger that they want him to play for the Camp Nou side next season.
We expect that till the Brazilian renews with the Parisians, he will keep communications open with Barcelona. La Blaugrana has even reportedly inquired with Neymar as to the conditions under which he would return. The Spanish outfit will be interested in the much-speculated return until and unless Neymar officially signs a new contract with PSG, which would essentially put an end to all rumors.
Despite a certainty being found earlier between both the winger and the Parisians that a new contract would be signed, it would appear that there is far less clarity over the matter at this moment. In a recent interview with Sky, Neymar conveyed an ambiguous message over his future:
“We’ve had good talks with PSG, but I don’t want to rush things, I’m not under pressure. My contract runs until 2022, let’s see what happens. What is for sure: as long as I wear this jersey, I’ll do everything to win titles.”
Potentially as a result of interest from Barcelona, there’s a clear disparity in confidence between his earlier statements and this one. Even the Paris faithfuls are allegedly nervous. According to a report by AS, they suspect that the winger is waiting for the Catalans to see if he can, indeed, re-join the club.
It would appear that the former Barcelona star is very strongly linked to a move back to Spain for the second time this season. Although it is likely that his decision to renew with PSG was made keeping in mind that the Catalans would have to wait another year to sign him with considerable depth already in the wing position. However, it now seems that the 29-year-old is still set on a return to the club with which he spent 4 seasons, having made the Ballon d’Or podium twice.
Especially with recent reports suggesting that a winger’s spot is going to open up at Barcelona, and who else but Neymar’s own replacement. Ousmane Dembélé is not looking to renew his contract and is hoping for a transfer amidst rumors that Manchester United and Liverpool are interested.
Joan Laporta, Barcelona’s new hope as President of the club, expressed his admiration for the Brazilian, and it looks like, for the moment, there is real interest from Barcelona. That said, recent years have shown how complicated a return truly is, especially considering the frayed relationship between the Catalans and the leadership at Paris.
It remains to be seen whether the Barcelona board aims to bring the 29-year-old in the upcoming transfer window or on a free in 2022, but one thing is for sure: there is clear interest, from both Barcelona and Neymar.