This is the translation of my latest column published on Medios Regionales de El Mercurio in Chile on August 7th, 2017:
Beyond the moral objections about the price of his transfer, I’m really glad to see Neymar free from that ball and chain around his ankle called Lionel Messi. Barcelona have built it all in the last years around the Argentinian and whoever surrounds him, even if they have a better season than him, becomes invisible. With or without intention, Messi is a dense shadow, like a black hole in space: he makes disappear anything that goes into his force field. Andrés Iniesta knows it and we know it because Alexis also suffered from it until he had to leave the blaugrana club. It doesn’t matter how good, excellent or better someone does things on the pitch, all the lights, the headlines and the hugs will always go to Lio.
Neymar is already 25. He’s entering his maturity and performance peak. Neymar is an olympic champion and he is the captain and the playing engine of Brazil, now at the top of the South American world cup qualifiers. Neymar is a leader. And, as such, he can no longer satisfy his growth and self-improvement hunger only by scoring and assisting tons of goals every weekend with the MSN. Neymar deserves more. He deserves to have the possibility to enjoy at a club level, the same status he earned long time ago with the “verdeamarelha”.
In this way, it’s easy to understand Neymar when he says he didn’t leave Barcelona for money. He already has plenty to live for three lives and more. With Paris Saint Germain he only wants to navigate uncharted territories, to get where no one else has come before, so he can be the one that wins and conquers. The French club has tried hard for years to earn a place of greatness in Europe, but it hasn’t been enough. So then, Neymar is for them the key to that showcase full of cups they dream of, therefore they have bet on him. And how.
Already at his arrival, during his presentation at the Parc Des Princes, Neymar received part of the salary he signed for: An entire stand, all his, full of supporters gone crazy, jumping and singing to him “Aquarela do Brasil” with his name. And he stood there, grateful and impressed, living at last what he couldn’t have ever experienced at Barcelona with Messi. ¡He couldn’t even use the Nº10 shirt! Now he can. Because, as Alessandro Del Piero said once, “10 is not a number, it’s a player category” and we all know that Neymar, whose magic and nature don’t deserve to be a side dish, belongs to it by birthright.