MADRID: Confusion surrounding the Neymar-Paris Saint-Germain transfer saga was rife in Barcelona on Wednesday, with the player staying silent on his future.
“Doubts, doubts and more doubts,” ran the headline on the front page of Catalan daily Sport, above a photo of the striker lost deep in thought.
Barca centre-back Gerard Pique had sparked panic after appearing to backtrack on his ‘he stays’ tweet about his team-mate.
PSG are trying to lure the 25-year-old Brazilian to France and are ready to pay his 222-million-euro ($256.8 million) release clause to make him the best-paid and most expensive footballer on the planet.
Last week Pique took to social media to say “he’s staying” — but when pressed on the matter Tuesday ahead of a pre-season friendly in the United States against Manchester United he was less sure of himself.
“It’s a personal opinion from the conversation that I had with him and my intuition,” Pique said.
“But it’s not official,” he added. “And it’s not for me to say if he’s going to stay or not.”
Fans in the city were not too confident about Neymar’s future and seemed to be fed up with the whole saga.
“If you are offered double by another company, then you will go,” said Salvador Pons, president of the Blaugrana fans’ association.
“Even if your colleagues say ‘no, don’t leave, don’t leave’. Even to France, which is not at the same level as the Spanish Liga.”
Neymar departed the MetLife stadium without addressing reporters after scoring a brace in a 2-1 pre-season friendly win over Juventus in New Jersey on Saturday.
“The situation is eroding confidence at the club,” columnist Tomas Andreu wrote in the newspaper Sport.
“What really hurts here is the silence of the player himself, which in the end says a great deal.”
At the same press conference where Pique spoke, Argentine defender Javier Mascherano said he had told Neymar to carefully weigh up the pros and cons.
Mascherano added all the players, including Messi, had spoken to the player to ask him to stay.
New PSG full-back Dani Alves, who took his compatriot Neymar under his wing while at the Camp Nou, posted a message on Instagram seemingly with a message for his former team-mate.
“What do you want to be? Where do you want to go? Where do you want it?” he wrote on Sunday.
“All matters depend on you never forgetting where you came from and who was by your side when you were someone, but the world did not know who you were.”