It is difficult to resist the compelling nature of Neymar’s narrative arc.
Rumours suggest the Brazilian superstar is longing for a return to Barcelona.
The reports from AS and Mundo Deportivo come just 14 months after his £198million move to PSG — a transfer that triggered a paradigm shift.
Transfer fees ballooned overnight as a result of the record-breaking deal.
Suddenly, every professional footballer on the planet was worth twice as much as they were on Neymar’s last day as a Barcelona player.
If he is craving Camp Nou high, and a return were to materialise, he will invariably suffer humankind’s most painful lesson.
You can’t turn back time, no matter who you are.
Neymar had hoped Paris would home his inner-most desires.
At PSG, he was supposed to sparkle in a land distant from Lionel Messi’s expansive shadow.
And when the spotlight was firmly fixed on him, how could his peers and the world’s journalists not award him the Ballon d’Or?
In return, Neymar was supposed to inspire PSG to their holy grail — the Champions League.
But the best laid plans of Nasser Al-Khelaifi often go awry.
Neymar dribbled out of Messi’s shadow and into the darkness cast by that of football’s next big thing.
In the blink of an eye, which is roughly how long the Frenchman needs to sprint past a defender, Kylian Mbappe became a global phenomenon.
Neymar averages just under a goal per game for PSG, with a generous smattering of assists on top.
But there is a sense that his otherwise impressive statistics (and performances) don’t really matter.
No nutmeg, rainbow kick, or hat-trick can disguise Ligue 1’s quality imbalance.
When Neymar agreed to join PSG, he split his soul in two.
Such outrageous talents owe us unwavering devotion to the game, it is the price they must pay for their blessing.
And that means striving to perform at the highest level possible, pushing boundaries, and wringing every last drop of wonder out of themselves.
Willingly dropping standards, as Neyamr did, is a cardinal sin.
One that all football fans, especially those in Catalonia, find hard to pardon.
While Mbappe is cutting his teeth in his homeland, Neymar has become the theatrical flat-track bully who wishes he were king.
The great tragedy is that the Nou Camp throne was prepared for him.
Just as Ronaldinho conceded to Messi, Messi was supposed to usher in the Neymar era.
But the Brazilian simply couldn’t wait.
Neymar’s fatal flaw is not impatience however, it is pride, or perhaps greed.
There is no shame in not being as good as Messi — that applies to 99.99% of players ever, possibly 100%.
What most players would give to be heir to a legend of unparalleled standing.
Neymar thought the road to Paris was a shortcut to Messi-levels of adulation.
But there are no shortcuts in this game, not for the very best.
If Neymar is indeed pining for a return to Barcelona he must surely realise it will not be the same.
What he actually wants, is a transfer to the parallel universe in which he remained.
The futility of such an endeavour is about as tragic as it gets.
Many Barcelona fans would welcome back a player of such a calibre.
But Neymar’s chances of being embraced as one of their own, of becoming a beloved club legend without caveat, evaporated when he snatched at PSG’s riches.
Barca’s motto ‘Mes que un Club’ (more than a club) applies to every component — more than a fan, more than a coach, more than a player.
If Neymar were to return he would surely be just a player, nothing more.
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