Football's biggest transfer yet: Barcelona's 2017 takes yet another hefty fall as forward Neymar decides to leave the club for a frontrunner role in France.
The move that remains subject to transfer fee, a record $222 million and medical examination, is nearing conclusion after which the Brazilian will be presented before PSG fans.
Lionel Messi posted a 36-second video on Instagram as a heartfelt goodbye tribute to his fellow forward on Wednesday in a message that said: "It was a huge pleasure to have shared all these years with you friend. I wish you all the best. See you."
But maybe it was him being one of the reasons after all, that lead to Neymar’s departure.
Messi the nemesis
Neymar and Messi are rivals, not personal, but professional and purely based on merit. At Barcelona, Neymar remained in Messi’s shadow - a shadow so colossal that you would need to magnify others to feel their presence - but at PSG, he will have it all to give the Ballon d’Or a legitimate go.
There is no doubt that Messi and Neymar share a brotherly bond, but Messi is the reason why, despite the bond, Neymar might not have had the influence he deserves to possess in his team. This, however, is not Messi's fault; he has established his stature so supreme that nothing in his presence seems attention-worthy.
Neymar always dreamt of playing alongside the undisputed king of football, but now at 25, he enters his prime years and a footballer of his standard deserves nothing but the lead mantle.
In all honesty, PSG is not equivalent to Barcelona in footballing terms, even with their financial superiority, despite being the football representatives of the city of love. But there's more to what the club can provide Neymar with. A leader’s role: more central, more flexible and with the system orbiting around him.
At Barcelona, Neymar was always the second best, and there's nothing he could have done about it. Messi's reputation at Camp Now is enormous. Neymar could never have reached Messiesque heights. It is virtually impossible for anyone.
He sure would have learned a lot from Messi, about football, its challenges, perseverance, pressure handling, but there's one thing he could never have learned: To be Messi. So, he chose to be Neymar instead. It had to happen, because there can only be one sword in a sheath.
Personal and monetary reasons
Last month, the 25-year-old said that the upcoming season was going to be the most important of his life, especially with the World Cup 2018 starting immediately after the conclusion of club fixtures. At PSG, he will play alongside compatriots Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Lucas Moura, Marquinhos and that means Brazil would not have much trouble jelling together in Russia.
There's another important aspect to Neymar's story: his father. Neymar Senior has immense influence in his son's financial and professional matters. He will reportedly earn $50 million from his son's move to Paris - a move he so worked hard for.
His father also played instrumental role in Neymar's arrival at Camp Now in 2013. Neymar has, on multiple occasions, stressed on how important his family is to him and how much he respects his father… and perhaps, his decisions.
Neymar will also earn $30 million a year for his services, double the amount he was paid at Barca.
Whatever the reason might be for his decision, it is a move that helps both Neymar and PSG. Neymar plays the protagonist and PSG acquire a leader they have desired since forever.
The level of competition in France might not match the standards of Spain, therefore it remains certain that Neymar will have his work cut out, and Champions League will potentially define his progress.
What’s next for Barcelona?
Barcelona has plenty to ponder upon. They are coming off a below par season and to let one of the world’s elite slip of their hands is a huge blow.
The Catalans do have a few options to fill in Neymar’s boots, with Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmanne Dembele the favourite to land a move. Other options include Juventus’ Paulo Dybala and Barcelona’s own Gerard Deulofeu.
Barcelona also has been chasing PSG’s Marco Verratti, but the French club demands a little too much for Barca’s liking.
With less than a month remaining before transfer season ends, Barca have to make moves quickly, and if there’s one man who has the toughest job in the world right now, that’s Barca coach Ernesto Valverde.