Barcelona are a team desperate for Champions League glory again this season, as they have somehow gone from sure winners to nearly men in the past few seasons. They are coming into the league as champions for the second year running and will be looking to complete their third hat trick of La Liga titles, but their new status leaves much room for doubt as to if they can achieve this feat.
Following the Champions League draw, Barcelona are priced at 6/1 in the latest soccer betting odds to win the tournament – but if they can get the Neymar deal over the line does that increase their chances?
They have had another one of the summers they have become known for in the past few seasons, spending a lot of money to strengthen their squad, bringing in Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie De Jong who are two of the best players in their positions.
The clubs transfer business isn’t over yet as they are currently in talks with PSG over the return of prodigal son, Neymar, but will this be enough to reduce the Messidependencia this season?
Pending the outcome of the last stretch of meetings between Barcelona and PSG currently going on, the MSN trio may just be reunited this season and this is making fans excited. The MSN trio proved deadly in the three years they played together and led Barcelona to their second treble, breaking a record for being the only club to achieve this feat.
In the 2017/18 season, Neymar agreed a shock £200m move to PSG, making him the world’s most expensive player (PSG later smashed the record with the acquisition of Kylian Mbappe from Monaco), a move that many came to see as a step-down from the high standards of Barcelona and La Liga. This also made fans and media spread opinions about Neymar and his entourage being money grabbers.
Neymar has gone on to win five titles with PSG, playing 58 games and scoring 51 goals, while creating 29 more. This figure could have been more had he stayed fit – he has missed 47 games due to fitness problems in PSG – but now, Neymar wants no part of PSG anymore.
The return of Neymar will prove troublesome for the other teams in La Liga and in the Champions League, which happens to be the one title Barcelona want more than anything right now.
Neymar is currently priced at 26/1 to be the Champions League top scorer this season with many of the leading bookies – so if he does join Barcelona surely that is a good bet?
However, the team dynamics looks set to be the most affected with Neymar looming, and this will prove problematic for the manager, Ernesto Valverde.
When Griezmann arrived, the media was agog with how unhappy Luis Suarez was, as pictures and comments allegedly made by Griezmann himself fueled the fire. This is because many see Griezmann as a direct rival to Suarez and the Uruguayan is one not known for his patience.
Then there is the issue of Ousmane Dembele, who was brought in to replace Neymar. Dembele has struggled with disciplinary and fitness problems in his two years at Barca, and when he seems to be hitting his stride, his momentum suddenly comes crashing down like a pile of dominoes which can be frustrating to watch. While he has had some good moments and a few good matches, in all, he has not proven to be a good investment for Barcelona despite his quality.
The money spent on Dembele will be difficult to recover if Neymar finds his way back to Barcelona, and what’s worse is that Dembele’s agent Moussa Sissoko has declared to the media severally that his client is going nowhere. A player like Dembele is too good for the bench and with Neymar looming, this looks like the case.
There is also Rafinha and Carles Perez, the two La Masia boys who are finally getting a run in the team and have shown they can compete with the big boys. This is Perez’ first season so he is not expected to have a big role in the team, but with Rafinha it is more problematic. A fully fit Rafinha is a good weapon in the Arsenal of any team and he has shown it several times with Barcelona and in his loan spells. However, he has never been able to win the heart of all of the coaches he has played for in the senior team despite churning out good performances in the midfield and attack anytime he is called up. And with no suitor in sight for him, his talents are likely to be wasted on Barcelona’s bench this season.
The biggest problem still is Messidependencia but in the MSN trio era, Neymar showed the world that he could lead Barcelona in the talismanic Argentine’s absence. This is the biggest case being made for the return of Neymar to the club – that only he is worthy to lace Messi’s boots in Barcelona – but with the attacking prowess displayed by Griezmann thus far, this fact is disputable.
Neymar’s return looks to bring more problems than actual solutions for the team and it is one which could see Valverde’s time at Barcelona come to an abrupt end. No coach in the world can ever be well poised to manage four of the world’s biggest superstars at the same time. He will have serious media and club scrutiny to deal with, struggle to get formations right and is likely to have players mouthing off to the media when things don’t go their way.
Barcelona are on the verge of making one of the biggest and costliest errors in their recent history. Only time will tell how this decision will turn out, if Neymar returns.