Kolkata: The world was left astonished when French club Paris St. Germain activated the release clause of Barcelona star Neymar de Silva. Signing the player for a hefty sum of €222 million, they made Neymar the world’s highest paid footballer.
However, the departure of the Brazilian star broke up the famed, ‘MSN” trio which comprised of Argentine star Lionel Messi and Uruguayan Luis Suarez, along with Neymar.
The trio was an indomitable force in club football and had smashed several records in the recent years.
“It was one of the toughest decisions I ever took,” said Neymar after his move to PSG.
The look-out for a new challenge was one of the most primary reasons for the move, added the Brazilian.
The importance of Neymar to Barcelona can be summed up in the words of rival captain Sergio Ramos, who said before the latter’s move to PSG that, “I hope (he leaves). It would be less of a problem for us.”
The 25-year old winger who had moved from Brazil club Santos to Barcelona, to play with his idol Lionel Messi, left the Spanish club to join PSG.
Speculations are high that Neymar left Barcelona because he no longer wanted to remain under Messi’s shadow, but wanted to make a name for himself, probably for a future Ballon D’Or.
His contribution to Barcelona can never be understated, having scored 105 goals in just 186 games (all competitions), through four seasons.
But the transfer also brings out the poor strategy of the club’s board, for letting such a big star move out.
Neymar, who has been tipped by the legendary footballer Pele himself, to be the next great footballer will not be easy to replace and will surely be missed in the matches when club talisman Messi has an off day and he was missed on the day it mattered the most.
Having failed to sign any able replacement for the left winger, Barcelona took the field to play against arch-rivals Real Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup at the iconic Camp Nou.
Madrid started the match with their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench, as both teams took some time to get into the groove.
All eyes were on Lionel Messi as Barcelona looked to win their first ‘El-Classico’ of the season without the Brazilian star Neymar.
However, Los Blancos took the lead when Gerard Pique in an attempt to clear a low ball from Marcelo, put the ball into his own net. Things soon got a little tensed in the middle, as tackles flew in one after another, with as many as five players getting booked in the first-half itself.
Despite several attacks, Barcelona failed to equalise as the magical skills and eye for a goal of the mercurial Neymar was dearly missed.
The 23-year old Gerard Deulofeu who was deployed in place of Neymar, looked nervous and was all over the place until he was taken off in the 59th minute.
The Catalan club however equalised when Real Madrid goalkeeper put down Suarez in the box and the referee signalled a penalty. Messi scored from the spot to level the scores. However, what was to follow was absolutely unthought of as Real Madrid scored two wonderful goals from counter attacks, to silence the crowd at the Camp Nou.
The match ended at 3-1, as the Los Blancos edged closer to win the Super Cup.
Despite, the win the Champions league winners will be worried as star man Ronaldo has been suspended for five games after seeing a second yellow card (eventual red) in the match.
But, Camp Nou was left to rue the departure of a star, often touted to replace Messi in the Blaugrana colours.
Probably, the match could have seen a different result with the presence of the Brazilian, who has often won a match single-handedly on his own. There were at least three times in the match where Deulofeu’s touch and passing showed why Neymar was badly missed.
His attacking prowess combined with his brilliant combination with Messi and Suarez had won the the Catalan giants numerous trophies including the famous treble in the 2014-15 season.
Gerard Deulofeu (former Barcelona player) who has been signed back from Everton to replace Neymar in the left wing would like to forget this match and move forward.
All he could do in the match was miss a clear chance to open the goal scoring and misplace the passes, while also being shouted at by Luis Suarez for not passing the ball to him when the latter was in a better position to score.
On the other hand, Neymar put up a stellar performance and stole the show to make it a memorable debut for PSG, scoring a goal while also assisting another in their 3-0 victory over Ligue 1 club Guingamp.
Barcelona were tipped to sign stars such as Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Kylian Mbappe (Monaco), Ousmane Dembele (Borussia Dortmund), and Eden Hazard (Chelsea) to replace the 25-year old at Camp Nou.
However, the club has not been able to sign any able replacement with a calibre of the Brazilian sensation.
The biggest question probably at the moment is, has Barcelona already started missing Neymar? Perhaps yes.
One would certainly hope that after this match Josep Bartomeu (Barcelona club President) and Ernesto Valverde (club head coach) would act quickly to sign a suitable player to partner both Messi and Suarez in the front line.
-Edited by Souryaprokas Bhaduri