Barcelona’s dogged pursuit of Neymar dominated the gossip columns during the summer.
The Catalans were desperate to re-sign their former forward, who had only left the club two years previously to join Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record £200m.
However, due to the La Liga champions already splashing the cash on Antoine Griezmann – who cost £107m from Atletico Madrid, and Frenkie de Jong – £65m from Ajax – UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules prevented them from spending any more on the Brazilian.
Neymar stayed put in Paris and Barca have continued just fine without him, currently sitting top of La Liga after 10 games. Indeed, such was the burning desire to lure the South American back to the Nou Camp during the summer, it is being reported that even the players were willing to accept a personal inconvenience if it meant capturing their former colleague’s signature.
Defender Gerard Pique told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser (via Sky Sports) on Thursday: “We told (club president Josep Maria) Bartomeu that if it was necessary to delay payments in our contracts to meet Financial Fair Play regulations and sign Neymar we would do it.
“We were ready to adjust our contracts. We weren’t going to contribute money, but we were going to make things easier by allowing some payments to be made in the second or third year instead of the first.”
Neymar sat out the beginning of the season with PSG while he waited for the ongoing transfer saga to be resolved, but returned to the fold in September and has since scored four goals in five appearances for the Parisians. He is currently ruled out with an injury sustained while away on international duty with Brazil.
Pique’s admission is telling of how much the playing staff value Neymar. It is obvious that club chiefs would love it if the ex-Santos man signed and Ernesto Valverde would be delighted having a player of his capabilities to select each week.
However, finding out that the players were willing to take a personal hit to get him back to Catalonia is extremely interesting, and shows just how highly he is rated by his peers at the Camp Nou.
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