Diplomacy Behind Neymar's Potential Barcelona Return: Saudi Secrets Unveiled

Neymar Jr., once the crown jewel of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), may see himself back in Barcelona blue and red this season.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Diplomacy Behind Neymar's Potential Barcelona Return: Saudi Secrets Unveiled

In what could be one of the most unconventional football transfers ever, Neymar Jr., once the crown jewel of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), may see himself back in Barcelona blue and red this season. But this time, the play isn't solely about football; it's about diplomacy, business, and influence.

A Complex Deal with Saudi Involvement

According to Catalan Sport, the linchpin to this audacious move lies not in Europe, but in the Saudi Arabian desert. An undisclosed club from Saudi Arabia is set to table an official bid for Neymar.

However, rather than relocating the Brazilian star to the Middle East, they plan to send him on a one-year loan to Barcelona, underwriting a portion of his substantial salary through commercial agreements. The brains behind this intricate operation is agent Pini Zahavi.

Back in May, Zahavi, alongside Barcelona's President Joan Laporta, visited the Arab nation, which can be presumed as laying the groundwork for this potential transfer.

The Financial Dance Around Neymar's Salary

Even for a club of Barcelona's stature, Neymar's pay is a stumbling block.

With earnings surpassing 22 million euros net per season, and added bonuses, Barcelona would be on the hook for a staggering 51 million euros for Neymar's annual wage alone. Given Barcelona's current financial restraints, such an expenditure is unthinkable without external aid.

Hence, the Saudi club's involvement doesn't merely serve as a pitstop for Neymar's eventual return to Spain. Their support would come through commercial contracts, potentially even culminating in a friendly match, providing additional revenue streams.

However, Neymar's initial hesitation towards the idea is understandable. Although a year at Barcelona could tempt him, the subsequent obligation to spend two years playing in the Saudi league, a lesser-known footballing destination, may be less enticing.

Diplomacy on the Football Pitch

But there's a wrinkle in this play. Relations are frosty between Qatar, who own PSG, and Saudi Arabia. If a transfer were to materialize, it wouldn't be just about football, but a broader narrative of geopolitics and soft power.

Pini Zahavi and Joan Laporta's meeting with the president of the Saudi Football Federation in May wasn't just about strengthening football ties. It aimed to foster cooperation, and perhaps, open a pathway for one of football's biggest stars to play a role in that narrative.

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