Any Barcelona manager has a tough job on their hands but Ernesto Valverde might already be facing a losing battle before he’s even taken control of a match.
The former Athletic Bilbao manager must have been rubbing his hands with excitement at the prospect of writing the names of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar on his teamsheet every week.
However, that may not be the case with reports suggesting that the latter may be looking to leave the club before the start of the season.
It was a report from Spanish outlet Sport on Monday morning that first suggested Neymar was open to a transfer away from Camp Nou.
In that exclusive report, Sport were suggesting that Neymar’s advisors were telling him to leave Barca to move out of Messi’s shadow.
And fellow Spanish outlet AS have followed that up with a report of their own - and they’ve taken it a step further.
They claim that it’s not just Neymar’s advisers that want him to leave but also the player himself.
Why Neymar wants to leave
They say that Neymar isn’t concerned about money and, like his advisors, think he’d benefit from moving out of Messi’s shadow.
They write: “Neymar wants to be the cornerstone of a large project, without being in the shadow of his team-mates. He believes that he has learnt as much as he can from Lionel Messi, and that now is the time to embark on a parallel bid to become the best player in the world, a difficult task with Messi in the same dressing room.”
Neymar has won virtually everything at club level but has ambitions to win the Ballon d’Or. Despite coming third in 2015, the Brazilian has struggled to get anywhere near Messi and Ronaldo in terms of votes.
But where could Neymar be heading?
According to the same report by AS, Neymar’s father will travel to Paris to meet with Nasser Al-Khelaifi, PSG’s president, to discuss a potential transfer.
There is also the possibility of a move to Manchester United but with the Red Devils already spending £75 million on striker Romelu Lukaku, that move looks more unlikely.
Whether Valverde can convince Neymar to stay at Barcelona for the coming years and take over from Messi remains to be seen. But, for now, it looks as though the forward doesn’t want to wait any longer and is willing to leave in a bid to win the Ballon d’Or.
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