Neymar Jr. wanted to leave Paris Saint-Germain during last summer’s transfer window and his preferred destination was FC Barcelona. That much we all know thanks to many reports including this wrap-up from Bleacher Report. Even Real Madrid was thought to be a likely destination. What we didn’t know is that Manchester United seriously considered signing Neymar as the two La Liga clubs failed to put a package together that would entice PSG to sell their prized asset.
According to a report from The Athletic, which details the inner-workings of Manchester United recruitment methods, Neymar was on the radar of the Red Devils who have been struggling to regain relevancy for years. The article discusses how the Brazilian was thought to be the kind of superstar player United’s chief executive Ed Woodward would covet because he believed the club should have at least one Ballon d’Or contender within the team.
The Premier League side never made an offer to PSG and ultimately walked away from potentially signing Neymar, who cost the Ligue 1 giants €222 million in 2017, and cited two specific reasons.
Executives at Old Trafford believed that Neymar Sr., who serves as Jr.’s agent, is too “money-obsessed.” Would bringing his son to Manchester be something the player really wanted or would Neymar only go there because his dad negotiated a huge salary? That is the question United had to ask themselves.
The second reason Manchester United walked away from Neymar according to The Athletic is that Neymar is “even more fixated on winning the Ballon d’Or than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo are.” On the surface, that’s probably a good thing, except United believed that Neymar “does not dedicate himself in the way of Messi or Ronaldo” and that he doesn’t “seem to grasp what needs to change to make his dream a reality.” Per the reporting, moving on from Neymar wasn’t a difficult choice for Manchester United. Ouch!
I find this reporting pretty rich coming from a team currently in 12th in the Premier League with a starting XI that is the laughing stock of football fans around the world. Sure, Neymar’s dad may be obsessed with money and sure, Neymar may have a relaxed attitude, but that’s because he’s really, really good at football! He would walk into the United’s starting lineup but after one game, he would probably go on a rant after playing a game with the likes of Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard. If people thought Neymar was unsettled in Paris, imagine his reaction to playing under lame-duck manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
Manchester United may have made the right decision for another reason though. Neymar is currently out for a month with a hamstring injury and it’s just the latest in a long list of injuries he’s picked up since coming to PSG. The Red Devils need all the help they can get and while PSG has the players to cover for Neymar’s absence, United does not and it would be a nightmare for them to deal with this current injury after spending a lot of money and potentially shipping players to PSG.
As we wrote about in a recent article, Neymar’s potential destinations next summer could be going away. If he doesn’t play the majority of this season and perform well, I think a lot of teams will question whether PSG’s asking price next summer is worth it. Neymar has a lot to prove this season but first, he has to get healthy.
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