Barcelona are ready to say goodbye to Neymar ahead of his imminent £198m world record move to Paris Saint-Germain after he missed training on Wednesday, with officials at the club growing tired of what they see as greedy attempts from his entourage to secure him as much money as possible.
Neymar was given permission directly by manager Ernesto Valverde to skip Wednesday morning's training session in order to say his goodbyes and leave the club, with plans in Paris already being put into place to announce his arrival.
“FC Barcelona returned to training this Wednesday morning after the American tour, the first part of a double session at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper,” a club statement read.
“Before the morning session began, Neymar Jr informed those present of his wish to leave the club and was therefore given permission to miss training and resolve his future.”
He will earn more than £500,000-a-week after tax, and once his transfer fee, wages and numerous bonuses are combined, PSG will be committing to a five-year contract worth more than £450m. After flying to London on Wednesday, Neymar will travel on to Paris and, his agent said, will be formally unveiled as PSG’s latest signing before the week is out.
High-level Barcelona sources have told The Independent that there has been a distinctive shift at the Nou Camp over the past few days, with those at the top now fed up with what is seen as little more than greed from the individuals that look after the 25-year-old.
Neymar’s agent, Wagner Ribeiro, is in Paris finalising the terms on the Brazilian’s contract that will see him complete the biggest transfer ever seen in world football, with PSG poised to trigger his €222m [£198m] release clause once they have guaranteed the finer details with Ribeiro.
Taking to Twitter on Wednesday morning, Ribeiro posted a picture of the Paris skyline, including the Eiffel Tower, and talked up how good the football in the French capital is in what is an obvious tease of Neymar’s imminent move there.
“Pairs is wonderful,” wrote Ribeiro, “the Eiffel Tower, wine, food and FOOTBALL.”
Barcelona are resigned to losing the Brazil forward, though their frustration has lessened somewhat after they grew angry with what they saw as clear attempts to try and ring more money out of the Spanish club, just one year after signing a lucrative five-year contract.
One figure close to the situation told The Independent: “What is his problem with Barca?”
La Liga officials will attempt to block the move by reporting PSG to Uefa for what they feel is a clear and obvious breach of their Financial Fair Play rules, but this is likely to fall on deaf ears. The Spanish league believe there is no way that the French side could afford the move because their commercial income is not greater than Real Madrid or Manchester United, who cannot pay a similar fee, and must therefore have invested more than the maximum threshold set by the European governing body.
Even if PSG are found guilty of a rule breach – of which there is no suggestion by The Independent – they will still be allowed to sign Neymar, and would receive a fine and/or a European football ban.
Barcelona feel they have bent over backwards to accommodate Neymar, who was pictured at the clubs training ground this morning. The forward was seen arriving at the Joan Gamper Sport Complex on Wednesday where he did not train at all, and he was spotted leaving just 40 minutes later in what appears to have been a final goodbye to his teammates.
The Independent also understands that some of his senior Barcelona teammates have been aggravated by the way his exit has panned out, and feel that his departure is now what’s best for the club.
Barcelona have been prepared for the eventual loss of Neymar for the last few weeks and have already started targeting potential replacements in the shape of Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Juventus forward Paulo Dybala, a close friend of Lionel Messi’s given that they regularly play online games with each other.
However, the main target, as revealed by The Independent on Tuesday, is Borussia Dortmund forward Ousmane Dembele. The 20-year-old France international has been regularly monitored by the Catalans and they believe that they can sign him for around £70m, much less than it will cost to sign Dybala given his importance in securing Juventus the Serie A title last season as well as guiding the side to the Champions League final.
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