by Dylan Carlson Sirvent, ’19
FC Barcelona were rocked by Neymar’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record breaking transfer fee of €222 million (more than $260 million) . Neymar became a Barcelona player in 2013 after joining from Brazilian soccer club Santos. However, after an investigation riddled with allegations of tax fraud and murky contract dealings, then-Barcelona president Sandro Rosell was forced to resign after intense public backlash.
When Neymar arrived it was seen in the soccer world as a statement by the club. Superstars now wanted to go to Barcelona not fierce rivals Real Madrid. As Madrid-based sports writer Alfredo Relaño wrote “Galácticos no longer go to Madrid. This is a stain on Florentino [Perez]’s (Real Madrid’s president) suit”. Four years, 123 appearances, 68 goals, and 8 trophies later, the man who was supposed to become Messi’s heir left for Ligue 1’s PSG.
His transfer destabilized the Barcelona hierarchy and angered fans. After Barcelona lost with an aggregate score of 5-1 against Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup, Barça manager Ernesto Valverde said, “There were things that happened in preseason that affected the balance within the team, things which we must correct or work on to find another balance.”
In Neymar’s goodbye message which he posted on Instagram he said “An athlete needs challenges… I feel in my heart that the time has come to leave [Barcelona]. PSG will be my new home for the next few years.” While many fans wished Neymar luck in his new journey, some fans responded by posting videos of them burning a Barça jersey with his name on it.
Neymar made his debut and scored his first goal for PSG on August 13 against Guingamp. After winning man of the match after the game Neymar said, “I knew it would be difficult to leave Barca, but I’m very happy to be here. People believe that leaving Barca is like to die. But I’m more alive than ever. I’m very happy, and the football is the same.”