The Blaugrana are willing to offer Paris Saint-Germain players and cash to re-sign the Brazilian but he would not be worth such a colossal investment
Rivaldo has been more excited than most about Neymar’s possible return to Barcelona.
The Blaugrana have just signed Antoine Griezmann for €120 million (£107m/$134m) to play up front alongside Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, but the former Brazil international has been adamant that there has been room for one more superstar forward at Camp Nou.
“An attack with these four players would be spectacular and I think it’s possible to accommodate them all,” Barca legend Rivaldo told Betfair.
“It would be just a question of preparing a good system in training to make it possible. I don’t see a problem in playing with this ‘Fantastic Four’ at the same time.”
Such a stellar group would certainly be worthy of the moniker from the famous superhero comic strip which later became a movie franchise
There are obvious similarities between Messi and the Fantastic Four’s main character, Mister Fantastic – the brilliant but boring team leader with the ability to defy the laws of physics.
‘The Thing’, meanwhile, has been an aggressive, reckless and perpetually grumpy character who charges about the place with scant regard for the welfare of others – just like Luis Suarez.
For now, Griezmann could fulfil the role of The Invisible Woman, at least from the fans’ perspective, given they’d rather not see him in a Barca shirt.
Last but certainly not least, Neymar would make a fine version of the Human Torch.
One has been fast, elusive, petulant, brash, rebellious, obnoxious and leaves a trail of destruction in his wake. And The Human Torch shares some of those characteristics!
Neymar would obviously dismiss such talk. As he admitted himself only last week, he has been “no superhero nor a perfect role model”.
If anything, Neymar has been now football’s most infamous villain, the game’s answer to Mr. Glass, the fragile character from the ‘Unbreakable’ trilogy whose scruples are as brittle as his bones.
There are few less popular players on the planet now, with his histrionics at last summer’s World Cup having earned him the contempt of neutrals across the globe.
In addition, he infuriated everyone associated with Barcelona by suddenly departing in 2017 in acrimonious circumstances and now looks to do likewise at Paris Saint-Germain.
If anything, his Parc des Princes exit will be even more bitter, with Neymar seemingly intent on adding insults to the many injuries he has suffered during his time in France.
This, after all, has been a soccer professional who has missed 47 games since joining PSG two years ago for a world-record fee of €222m (£200m/$250m). To put that in context, he was sidelined for just 29 matches across four seasons in Catalunya.
While Neymar’s ever-increasing physical issues should be of most concern to Barcelona, his recent behaviour has also been alarming.
The Brazilian has always been an emotional character. His seemingly incessant outbursts could be attributed to his unhappiness at PSG, the stark realisation that he erred badly in electing to leave Barca and has essentially wasted the past two years of his career.
There will be a temptation to presume that a return to Camp Nou would solve all his problems.
He would be among friends again – namely Messi and Suarez – and back playing for a club capable of getting beyond the last 16 of the Champions League.
However, it has been worth noting that Brazil have just done something that would have previously been considered unthinkable: they won a major trophy without Neymar.
When the forward was stretchered off in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, the Selecao’s hopes of glory essentially went with him.
Now, though, Neymar has become an unwelcome distraction, arguably even a hindrance.
Brazil’s 2018 campaign in Russia was overshadowed by the Neymar narrative, firstly, his battle to return to full fitness, and then, the accusations of play-acting.
It was no coincidence that the Selecao – shorn of the circus that travels everywhere with their most famous soccer professional – looked a completely different side at this summer’s Copa America, having replaced the injured Neymar with Dani Alves as captain.
Indeed, many are now wondering if Brazil are better off without Neymar. PSG are obviously asking themselves the same question at the moment. Maybe Barcelona should be too.
The Blaugrana are willing to use the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic as makeweights in a deal to bring Neymar back to Barcelona but, as Goal disclosed on Tuesday, the Ligue 1 champions are only interested in a straight-cash deal.
Would he really be worth another historic fee, though? He certainly hasn’t proven value for money at PSG.
What’s more, he hasn’t even displayed enough contrition to show he deserves to be welcomed back at Camp Nou.
He can talk about his fondest memories all he wants but actions speak louder than words – and Neymar has yet to issue the apology Barca have made one of the stipulations of resigning him.
Neymar has been correct when he says that when he last played alongside Messi, they made for “a magnificent duo” but they have gone in very different directions since then.
The usually quiet and humble Messi has become Barca’s captain; the loud and flash Neymar has degenerated into PSG’s enfant terrible.
Of course, if the Brazilian has been willing to do what it takes to once again play the role of the Argentine’s sidekick, they could flourish once more, and perhaps scale even greater heights, with Griezmann having now been added to the mix and Suarez still a colossal nuisance for defenders.
Article continues below
In comic-book terms, they really could be the new ‘Fantastic Four’. But as Mr. Glass points out in Unbreakable, in a comic you can always tell who the arch-villain has been going to be because “he’s the exact opposite of the hero, and most of the time, they’re friends.”
Just like Messi and Neymar.
Unlike Messi, though, Neymar has been no superhero. He’s even said so himself.