Neymar has been surprisingly linked with a move back to Barcelona in recent days, six years on from his initial switch to Paris. Despite the overall rise in transfer fees since 2017, that deal still remains the world record transfer, but how much is Neymar worth now and can Barcelona really afford to bring him back?
It’s no secret that PSG have been embarking on something of a clearout this summer as they switch to a new project with Luis Enrique at the helm. With Leo Messi having already left and PSG keen for Kylian Mbappe to move on given his refusal to sign a new deal, these latest reports regarding Neymar open up the possibility that the French club could lose all three members of their star-studded attack in the same summer.
This story broke with a French newspaper claiming Neymar was pushing for a move away in the coming weeks with Barcelona his preferred destination, however the player’s father and agent has since denied that is the case.
How much is Neymar worth now?
Needless to say Neymar’s valuation has declined since his world record €222m move to France six years ago. PSG paid the Brazilian forward’s release clause at the time to the amazement of everyone at Barca who believed they’d set such a high figure that no club would ever seriously be able to contemplate matching it.
Neymar is now 31 so it’s only natural that his market value has decreased but the forward is still young and talented enough that it feels like he could have one big move and several good years left in him.
Neymar is keen to rejoin Barcelona this summer, but there is an internal debate at the club around the forward's signing, sources have told ESPN.
Some are arguing in favor of the move and others — including coach Xavi Hernandez — believe he would not fit into this Barca team. pic.twitter.com/hqE9ULlXZD
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 7, 2023
His contract in Paris doesn’t expire until June 2025 with the player possessing the option to extend that by a year. That’s unlikely to be activated if there is any truth to the current reports but this isn’t quite the same situation as the Mbappe scenario where PSG are under much greater pressure to sell with the considerably more valuable 24 year old potentially in a position to leave for free next summer.
Reports suggest PSG would be willing to listen to offers in the €60-90m range for Neymar. That’s the kind of sum that would be viable for very few clubs outside of Saudi Arabia and despite Neymar’s undoubted ability, many top managers around Europe may feel the player is now too old and too expensive to build a team around.
Can Barcelona afford to sign Neymar?
There are many potential stumbling blocks which make this deal unlikely to happen. The most striking is Barcelona’s financial problems. The Catalan giants have only 13 registered players with just days to go until their La Liga opener against Getafe.
Their current priority is therefore registering new signings such as Ilkay Gündogan rather than making new additions. Ousmane Dembele’s PSG transfer is also taking longer than anticipated with the Frenchman still training with Barcelona this week. The completion of that deal would free up some funds that ought to allow Xavi to at least have more players available this weekend, but it’s unlikely to be anywhere near enough to put Barca in a position to make any kind of permanent transfer offer for Neymar.
In any case, there is no clear indication yet that Xavi would even want Neymar’s return and there was no love lost between the Brazilian and the club in the aftermath of his initial move to Paris.
There is still time for this situation to develop though and Barcelona have still managed to make big money signings in the past few years, despite their registration and debt issues. Any deal for Neymar would need to be financed and structured properly to make sure the club comply with La Liga’s salary requirements. That would make an initial loan move seem a more likely outcome with any transfer fee most likely to be offset until future years.