Did Neymar almost leave Barcelona this summer? All of the papers had reports of his looking at a move, but now Neymar has confirmed that he did go as far as speaking to other clubs.
“Yes, we had discussions with many people, not just one [with PSG],” he said at a news conference on Thursday. “But I decided to stay at Barca because I feel at home here. I'm happy with my teammates and I'm Barca man.”
So, to say that Neymar almost left Barcelona would be a little much. He definitely considered leaving the Catalan club, though.
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Paris Saint-German would have made sense as a new home for Neymar. First of all, they could afford Neymar, which very few clubs could. They also play at a high enough level to entice Neymar and living in Paris isn't too bad.
PSG have no face of the club. They have no point of the attack. They have no transcendent player.
That's not to say that PSG don't have any good players because they have plenty, but none are on the level of Ibrahimovic … or Neymar. Unai Emery was brought in to instill a more sustainable system at the club, one that's not built around any one player so PSG wouldn't need a star to thrive, but that doesn't mean they don't want a major superstar. After all, they met with Neymar.
Without Ibrahimovic, PSG have tried playing without a striker, trotting out different attacking players in a false nine role in lieu of an actual striker. In the Champions League, they put Edinson Cavani up top, but he blew his chances, and they had to put Blaise Matuidi in an advanced role, with underwhelming results.
A PSG team with Neymar allows the fearsome midfield of Matuidi, Marco Verratti and any number of the club's other options to stay intact, with a terrifying attack in front of them. It also severely weakens Barcelona and potentially opens a path to the elusive Champions League semifinals. One move — and a lot of money — changes it all, especially for PSG.
Alas, Neymar to PSG never came to be. It looks like it wasn't even that close, which is great news if you're a Barcelona fan, but imagining him in Paris is pretty funny. Almost as fun as watching him alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.