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Neymar is developing into a long-term successor to Lionel Messi as the best player in the world but his future at Barcelona is in major doubt.
The 24-year-old Brazilian’s inclusion on the final Ballon d’Or shortlist was seen as an indication that he is already beginning to challenge the long-standing duopoly Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi have established over the past eight years.
Although Neymar is not on their level yet he is already hitting spectacular heights for Barcelona and shows no sign of slowing down.
As Barca won La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League in 2015/16 Neymar scored 39 times in 51 appearances – a formidable record.
The Catalans are in contention to retain all three trophies at the moment and Neymar’s performances have not let up. To date he has 21 goals in 29 appearances this campaign.
But while you would think his position at Barcelona is untouchable he remains a major transfer target for Premier League giants Manchester United and Manchester City who believe they stand a viable chance of prising him from the Nou Camp.
Neymar is said to have a release clause of €190m and could command a weekly wage of £1m – the kind of money that either Manchester side could speculatively afford and Barca possibly could not.
Spanish football expert Guillem Balague told Sky Sports “Barcelona cannot afford to give new contracts to Lionel Messi, Suarez and Neymar as it stands – financially they do not have the power to do so.
“They need to bring a lot of money in, if they do that they will be able to keep them, but if they don’t they may have to get rid of one. That’s why Neymar keeps leaving the door open for United and others.”
Barcelona are currently ranked as the second-richest football team in the world but United are predicted to overtake them and Real Madrid into top spot in the next 12 months.
City are sixth in the rich list but have bigger resources than their competitors due to the club’s owners and are growing at a rapid rate in terms of their standing in the global market.
Messi recently spoke of his intention to end his career at Barcelona and remains the most established and recognisable player in their squad so it is logical they would not cash in on him.
Suarez, meanwhile, is 29 and not as valuable as Neymar – a player with a following of almost 120m on social media – whose worth only seems likely to rise. This makes Neymar the most rational option when it comes to settling on which member of the prestigious trio to sell.
Barcelona have coped with the sale of star players in the past and with current coach Luis Enrique happy to promote from a talented youth squad now could be the right time to cash in with minimum disruption.
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