Reports: Neymar threatens to leave Barcelona over Unzue bust-up
The Brazilian forward could leave for Manchester United or Chelsea if Barcelona's board does not meet his demands
What’s the story?
Barcelona superstar, Neymar Jr. is on the verge of leaving the La Liga giants, according to a report in Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo (Disclaimer: Mundo Deportivo have been fairly accurate in their reportage of Barcelona’s inner on-goings recently, so there is some legitimacy to this report). The Brazilian had a training ground bust-up with Barcelona’s assistant manager Juan Carlos Unzue earlier, which has resulted in Neymar threatening the Catalan club’s hierarchy that he will leave.
According to previous reports in Spain, Neymar had his attitude questioned by Unzue recently, with Barca’s assistant coach taking issue with the Brazilian’s off-field activities and even comparing him to Ronaldinho. Barcelona’s superstar reacted badly, as the pair were involved in a heated exchange which has apparently soured their relationship permanently. Mundo Deportivo notes that while neither of the two have confirmed this incident, their representatives have not denied it either.
The heart of the matter
Unzue is in line to take over from Luis Enrique next season, as Barcelona’s technical director, Roberto Fernandez, continues the search for a top-level manager. However, Neymar’s camp have made it known that if Unzue is appointed as Barcelona manager, the Brazilian superstar will consider offers from other clubs and leave the Catalan giants.
Manchester United and Chelsea have already sounded out Neymar’s father, who is also his agent, about a move – with the Red Devils even willing to trigger Neymar’s astronomical 200 million release clause if they receive assurances that the Brazilian will accept market-level wages.
The report states that Neymar has issued an ‘it’s me or him’ threat with respect to Unzue – the Brazilian is keen to ensure that Unzue does not even continue as Barcelona’s assistant manager.
Barcelona can ill-afford to lose a player of Neymar’s ilk, with the board aware that Unzue is more than disposable. The Catalan club were leaning in the direction of appointing Ernesto Valverde as manager anyway, despite Luis Enrique’s preference that Unzue step up to the plate.
‘More than a club’ is Barcelona’s motto, but in this case the Catalans ought to swallow their pride and let Neymar dictate terms, especially as he is viewed as the long-term successor to Lionel Messi. Losing the Brazilian on the back of what has been a disappointing season would spell danger for the democratically-elected board, and letting Unzue go would be the easiest answer.