Neymar’s long-term future is still much of an uncertainty

RENNES, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 23: Neymar Jr of PSG warms up before the french Ligue 1 match between Stade Rennais FC (Rennes) and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) at Roazhon Park on September 23, 2018 in Rennes, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
RENNES, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 23: Neymar Jr of PSG warms up before the french Ligue 1 match between Stade Rennais FC (Rennes) and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) at Roazhon Park on September 23, 2018 in Rennes, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images) /

Neymar will play another season for PSG, but his long-term future is still up in the air due to a number questions left unanswered after the summer transfer window.

To the relief of many fans, the summer transfer window finally closed earlier this week across Europe’s top five leagues.

Club supporters can rejoice at the fact that there will be no more daily rumors, speculation or gossip about potential transfers. And for many, there is a great jubilation at the realization that the Neymar transfer saga will no longer be the main talking point in world football — at least for the time being.

After a tumultuous couple of months, Neymar stayed put after Monday’s deadline day and will play out his third season with PSG. It comes as a surprise considering it almost seemed inevitable at one point the Brazilian international would leave on yet another blockbuster transfer move. Powerhouse European clubs like Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid were all rumored to show interest in acquiring him but ultimately, no team was able to come to an agreement with PSG.

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This was not the situation PSG had hoped to be in when they signed the former Champions League winner. While Neymar enjoys great success when he features for PSG, multiple long-term injuries and a suspension that came after a confrontation with a fan has plagued his current tenure in France. The club brought him in to anchor a potential Champions League winning campaign, but they have failed to even win a knockout stage tie over the past two seasons.

What was perplexing about this Neymar transfer saga when compared to the 2017 edition was just how long it dragged out. It all began when Esporte Interativo correspondent Marcelo Bechler — the journalist who broke the news of Neymar’s transfer in 2017 — reported back in May that the Brazilian international was inquiring about leaving PSG for a return to Barcelona.  Over the upcoming month, rumors began to mount over Neymar’s possible exit.

Now what made matters even worse for those involved and was one of the reasons it dragged on so long was because of Neymar’s silence and lack of transparency; this is why his future is still much of an unknown. While media reports were pouring out from Spain and France about Neymar’s hopes of a transfer, the Brazilian remained relatively quiet.

Typically, players thwart any false rumors via social media or through the press, but Neymar shied away from that route. Instead, his only significant comment over the summer where he mentioned Barca and PSG came when he said the infamous 6-1 Champions League comeback is his current favorite career moment.

This, of course, frustrated the PSG faithful who embraced Neymar when he arrived two years ago.

Meanwhile, Barcelona did not figure much into exploring a potential Neymar return early in the window because there was no clear indication that a move was even possible. After completing the Griezmann transfer in early July, club president Josep Bartomeu stated that he only knew the Brazilian international wanted to leave because he “read it in the press.”

Compare this summer’s saga to two years ago when Neymar methodically planned out his entire transfer from the start. He informed Barca’s board of his intention to leave in June of 2017 and infamously told his Barca teammates of his decision at Messi’s wedding. He then came to terms on an agreement with PSG in July and the club moved in to trigger his €222 million release clause.

Nonetheless, PSG used it all to their advantage over this year’s summer transfer window and maximized the leverage they had in any transfer discussion. And who could blame them?

With the heavy investment they put into Neymar and with his contract running until 2022, the board was justified in doing what was best for the club by recuperating as much value possible in the event of a departure. More importantly, release clauses are not an option in France due to LFP rules so interested teams like Barcelona had to directly negotiate with PSG.

The club very likely viewed it as a win-win situation: Neymar stays for another year and the club make yet another hopeful Champions League run, or they receive a substantial offer in money and/or players to retool the squad right away. In the end, Barca were unable to meet PSG’s hefty demands even after multiple meetings and several offers due to their current financial restraints in garnering enough funds for a deal to be completed.

Now even though he will at least feature in another season for the defending Ligue 1 champions, Neymar’s long-term future with the club is still under a cloud of doubt. In fact, the transfer saga could very well spring into the daily headlines again soon; the European winter transfer window will open in just four months. Until December, Neymar’s future will reside in PSG but after that, it is unknown just what will transpire.

While Neymar is preparing his return to play for PSG after an early season absence, he may just already have his eye on once again ramping up transfer rumors during next year’s winter or summer transfer window. And as mentioned by PSG sporting director Leonardo, the Brazilian international only has his sights on a return to Barcelona.

So, if in four months Barca return during the winter transfer window to push for an agreement, PSG might not even budge unless unforeseeable circumstances force their hand. PSG will be in the middle of their Ligue 1 campaign and a month away from the Champions League knockout stage. And was the case over the past couple of months, Neymar will not have much say in negotiations.

Now while Bartomeu has come out to deny the club’s interests in signing the Brazilian international in January, the club also had no intention of seeking an agreement this summer so, no deal is out of the question.

Now if Barca decides to return next summer for a deal, it may not be as complicated as before considering one key external factor.

According to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona will have the option of signing him in 2020 for a fee of €170 million due to FIFA’s protected period transfer regulation. Under this rule, players that have spent at least three seasons with the club and/or have not renewed their contract may leave for a discounted fee. Since Neymar does not have a release clause set in his contract, he may leave for another club at a €170 million deal thanks to a calculated formula by FIFA that takes into account variables such as the “amortization of the signing.”

However, unprecedented changes can occur over the upcoming year and in this unpredictable sport, anything is possible.

In a turn of events, the Brazilian international could end up finding peace with the team and decide to fulfil the contractual obligations that would see him play until his contract expire. PSG are hoping for this exact option.

At his best, Neymar makes PSG’s attacking unit a nightmare for opposing defenders. With his unparalleled ability to transition from a goal-scoring target man to a playmaking threat, he is the type of talent able to be a team’s offensive catalyst on a game-by-game basis. And there are not many talents that can come into the team and produce 51 goals and 29 assists over the course of two seasons.

In short, PSG need Neymar to truly thrive amongst Europe’s elite.

But for now, PSG are hoping this season can finally be their breakthrough campaign in Europe. With the Neymar saga far from over and the inevitable interests from clubs such as Real Madrid over a potential transfer of Kylian Mbappe, this all feels like a Champions League or bust season for the Parisian club.

Meanwhile for Neymar, he is set to embark on another season with PSG. And since drama is never immune with the Brazilian, Neymar will meet with Barcelona officials in court later this month over a lawsuit that pertains the team’s refusal to fulfill a contract renewal bonus agreement the Brazilian was set to receive while with Barca.

Next. Reports: Premier League clubs want summer transfer period extended. dark

It is like drama and rumors are always within reach with Neymar.