Neymar Had To Leave Barcelona To Become World’s Best Player

When it was announced this summer that Neymar would be leaving Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain as part of a record £200million deal, the shockwaves were felt around the footballing world.

With one monumental transfer, PSG had changed the footballing landscape forever and it is unlikely it will ever be the same again.

Prior to Neymar’s move to Paris, the world record transfer fee stood at £89m from when Paul Pogba joined Manchester United from Juventus in the summer of 2016.

In the wake of that Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger predicted last year a £200million transfer was close.

“Not long,” he told media in August 2016.

“I have said that since I have been in the game at some point it has to stop, but as long as football continues to develop and become more popular more money will come in.”

It is unlikely however, even if he was being bold, that Wenger could have foreseen a £200m transfer going through this summer.

But with PSG determined to assert their dominance on world football that is exactly what happened as they managed to lure Neymar to the French capital.

Instantly it was claimed the Brazilian was moving for money as it was reported his new wages were in excess of £500,000-a-week.

However, as he faced a packed Parc des Princes at his unveiling, Neymar dismissed those claims.

“I wanted to come to Paris and it was only linked to finding a new challenge,” he said.

“I was never motivated by money. I thought above all else about of the happiness of my family, regardless of money. I regret that some people think this is the case.

“What I think about is happiness. If I was following the money I would maybe be in some other country.

“This move is for ambition, they have a similar ambition to mine. I want something bigger, a bigger challenge and my heart made that decision and made me follow.

“That is why I am here. I want to give my best to help the club win trophies. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever taken.”

The truth is that Neymar’s ultimate goal is to be crowned the best player in the world.

It is an honour that right now is seemingly reserved for Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

You have to go back to 2007 when Kaká was voted the best player in the world to find a time when neither Messi or Ronaldo was named No.1.

Neymar, however, is determined to dethrone his rivals and he is on the right path after being nominated for the final three-man shortlist for this year’s Best FIFA Men’s Player.

Of course, Messi and Ronaldo were alongside him  once again, with the latter winning on this particular occasion.

“The number of goals they have been scoring and their performances, I think they are probably the two best legends,” says Andriy Shevchenko, who won the Ballon d’Or in 2004.

“It is quite difficult [to pick who I would want to play alongside], they are very different players.

“I mean Cristiano Ronaldo this season is having unbelievable results with Real Madrid and he’s scoring goals.

“Leo, for him, he has had the best start to the championship in Spain. He has been scoring a lot of goals. Messi is probably the more complete player.”

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To leapfrog Messi and Ronaldo as the best player in the world is not going to be an easy task, but the truth is Neymar had to leave the Nou Camp to do it.

Barcelona is, and will for the foreseeable future, be Messi’s team.

He is the club’s talisman, their leading figure both on and off the pitch. When people think Barcelona, they think Messi.

That is not to undermine Neymar’s contribution during his time at the Nou Camp, far from it.

Along with Luis Suárez, he helped create one of – if not the greatest – forward lines the world has ever seen.

Since Suarez's debut in October 2014, ‘MSN’ as they became known scored an incredible 364 goals in a combined total of 450 games. They were unstoppable.

However, when it came to the big individual awards, it was still Messi taking centre stage.

There can be only one winner in those insistences and, if Barcelona were victorious, Messi was first in line to get the individual prize.

But by moving to PSG, Neymar can finally step out from Messi’s shadow to make his own mark.

Just as when you think of Barcelona, you think Messi, it is quite concieveable that the same will happen with PSG and Neymar going forward.

The Brazilian is the French club’s very own Messi, their talisman, their global superstar on and off the pitch.

In Paris, Neymar can be the main man and for former PSG midfielder Jay-Jay Okocha that explains exactly why he left Barcelona.

“I think so,” Okacha said when asked if Neymar can challenge Messi and Ronaldo for world supremacy.

“I think that is why he made that decision to leave Barcelona and become his own person at PSG. He has taken up that challenge and so far so good.”

We have already seen Neymar trying to assert his dominance at PSG after falling out with Edinson Cavani over penalty duties.

“I think it is healthy competition. It is always good to have more than one player who is willing to take responsibility,” says Okocha.

But truth be told it is surely just a sign of things to come.

Neymar has made the move to PSG so he can be his own man, the leading light in a time gunning for Champions League glory. So far it's working out: He's scored four in four in Europe's elite club competition this term.

It is a brave move and there are few players who would leave Barcelona for any other club.

However, if Neymar really has his heart set on being the No.1 player in the world then he had no choice but to take that leap of faith.