By now we’re all aware of the very real possibility that Neymar may be leaving Barcelona in order to join Paris-Saint Germain.
The reactions from segments of Barcelona fans has been split. There are those who are confident that he is going to stay and those who believe he will leave. One underlying sentiment among the two groups is that he owes the fans either a flat-out refusal that he wants to leave or state his intent to go. Which brings us to the crux of this post:
Does Neymar owe the fans anything? The answer is no.
Fans always seem to have a sense of entitlement when it comes to players and it’s not difficult to understand why. Sports and teams can represent different things for different people. For many, they can represent a sense of belonging. “Die-hard” fans come to identify with the team they support and it becomes an extension of themselves. It becomes a part of who they are and feel the need to not only support the team but defend it when they perceive it to be “under attack.”
It’s a concept seen with fans upset at Neymar that he has not said anything with regards to a move away from Barcelona. After years of complaining that Real Madrid ultras call Messi “subnormal*,” they go ahead and call Neymar the same thing.
*(Subnormal roughly translates to mentally handicapped)
The main reason why Neymar does not owe the fans an explanation or any sort of comment is because at the end of the day football is a business. It’s his career and he has to decide for himself whether he wants to stay or leave. If it is true that a lot of the pressure to leave is being exerted by his father, then he might not actually know what to do.
This is not a defense of Neymar but he’s posted on his various social media accounts the love and appreciation he has for his father. He might be torn between staying and making his father happy. Especially with the reports that Neymar Sr. has already signed a contract guaranteeing him a signing bonus worth north of €40 million.
It’s not a black and white situation. It rarely ever is.
The only entity that Neymar owes anything is to his teammates and the club. The club because they did everything in their power to bring him to Barcelona. Some of it was shady and certain people are now under investigation for their role. His teammates because now every question in a press conference will be about him.
If he has already made his intentions clear to the team, one way or another, then that should be good enough.
At the end of the day, football is a business and if Neymar does indeed leave, Barcelona are set to receive €222 million from the sale. That should go a long way towards finding suitable replacements not only for Neymar, but for other holes in the squad. If he stays, then things will resume as per usual.
While he certainly has done damage to the relationship between himself and the fans, memory is a fickle thing. If he scores and plays well in the Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid, all will be forgiven.