Neymar PSG switch doubts grow at Barcelona
Gerard Pique has sparked panic at Barcelona after appearing to backtrack on his 'he stays' tweet on teammate Neymar, the target of a blockbuster transfer by Paris Saint-Germain.
"Doubts, doubts and more doubts," ran the headline on Wednesday on the front page of Catalan daily Sport above a photo of the striker lost deep in thought.
PSG is trying to lure the 25-year-old Brazilian to France and is ready to pay off his 222-million euro (US$256.8 million) release clause and make the player the best-paid footballer on the planet.
Last week Pique took to social media to say "he's staying" — but when pressed on the matter on Tuesday ahead of a preseason friendly — part of the International Champions Cup — 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."
The position sent a shudder down the spine at Barcelona.
"Pique retracts and feeds the uncertainty," the newspaper Sport said.
"The situation is eroding confidence at the club," columnist Tomas Andreu wrote in Sport.
"What really hurts here is the silence of the player himself, which in the end says a great deal."
Neymar departed the stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, without addressing reporters after starring in a 2-1 win over Juventus last Saturday.
"They (the club) did not expect the negotiations with PSG and the player to go this far," he said.
At the same press conference, defender Javier Mascherano said he had told Neymar to carefully weigh up the pros and cons.
The Argentina veteran added that all the players, including compatriot Lionel Messi, had spoken to Neymar, asking him to stay.