Years ago, a famous saying went like this: If Barcelona come calling, players get going.
But times seemed to have changed, as recent reports grinding in the rumour mill say the Catalan side will not only lose their current Brazilian star Neymar, but will also fail to sign his compatriot Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool.
Barca fans have been feeling unsure and dizzy for weeks, and there is good cause to it.
Day after day, there are reports that Neymar is wishing to step out of the shadows of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Then sometimes, there are reports that some players from the club have convinced the 25-year-old star to stay.
According to BBC’s Tim Vickery, Neymar wants to try and shine on his own, and maybe even scale the heights once reached by Brazilian stars in the past. In short, he wants to win a Player of the Year award, and he knows he cannot win it by playing alongside two other candidates in Messi and Suarez.
“The career of Neymar will be seen – by himself and other Brazilians – as falling short of potential if he does not get his hands on the [Fifa World Player of the Year] award,” said Vickery in his report.
Ligue 1 giants Paris St. Germain, backed by the very rich Oryx Qatar Sports Investments, are able and willing to provide Neymar the stage upon where he can display his capabilities, and the smoke on the rumour gets darker and bigger every day.
There were papers that said Neymar visited Qatar to have a medical for PSG, but Goal.com confirmed that was not true, though the report also said the French club are still confident of signing the flamboyant scorer.
Neymar will cost a knee-wiggling €222 million, but PSG are still salivating on not only the skills and athletic prowess of the Brazilian, but also on his marketing upside, as the star winger is considered one of the most valuable players right now.
Barca are hesitant to push through with the sale, saying they will ask FIFA to read PSG’s books and see if they can really afford the record-shattering fee, but they also seem okay with the prospect of earning €222 million, which could in turn help them convince Liverpool to let go of Coutinho.
But the Reds are unrelenting, and their manager Jurgen Klopp recently reiterated that the former Inter midfielder is “not available for sale.”
“The word ‘not’ means there is no other interpretation,” Klopp asked the media. “It’s nothing new, is it?”
Goal also reported that Coutinho is thinking of moving to Catalonia, but fears he might get the same treatment that Neymar gets: the third peg in Barca’s totem pole.
Coutinho has improved every year since his move from Italy to England five years ago, and last season he scored his Premier League career high 13 goals and seven assists in just 31 games.
He might not have the potential that Neymar has, but he is still a Brazilian and will be measured by the same stick used to measure Neymar, so it’s hard to blame Coutinho for seeing the risks on moving from a central piece in Klopp’s Liverpool to a support star in Barca.
Barcelona still have around four weeks to finalize their business, and a storied club with deep pockets like them can pull off surprises, so don’t be shocked when you see both Neymar and Coutinho wearing Blaugrana colours this season. But still, when there is smoke, there is fire, so there is also a real chance that Barca’s powerful front three might be reduced to a fantastic duo.