Barcelona pride themselves on being ‘more than a club’. It’s written into the seats of their stadium.
But this summer the Neymar circus has shone an unflattering light on them and revealed a once proud institution as weak, directionless and suddenly very unconvincing on the world stage.
However things finish up with Neymar, and nothing can be ruled out in this pantomime played out across three continents, it is clear that they have been given the runaround by a 25 year-old kid and his agent father.
The Neymar situation has left Barcelona's once proud institution looking exceptionally weak
The Brazilian appears to have been laughing at the club while orchestrating his move to PSG
They played catch-up on the story right from the start and only after the tale of his potential departure to Paris Saint-Germain had dominated their entire US tour did they finally start fighting back.
There were times when he seemed to be laughing at the club, dining out in a restaurant in Miami called the Paris Bistro at the height of the speculation.
If the deal is closed and the player leaves Barcelona will need a replacement for the Brazilian forward but, just as at the start of the summer when their pursuit of Marco Veratti came to nothing, they seem incapable of coldly identifying targets and then swooping to get what they want.
No one has won the Champions League more times than them this century and across those four European Cup wins Barça became a byword for fantasy football. And yet they struggle to make signings and now, in the case of Neymar, to keep their most important assets.
It is perhaps not normal that two of the three best players in the world play in the same team
Neymar has realised he needs to walk away in order to step out of Lionel Messi's shadow
In one respect it will be logical if they lose Neymar. Just like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi he has his entourage that consider him to be the best in the world and therefore worthy of the highest financial rewards.
It’s perhaps not normal that two of the three best players in the world are at the same club. Real Madrid have to dedicate a huge amount of resources to keeping Ronaldo happy. Barcelona are in the same situation with Messi and to then have to go through the same process all over again for Neymar has been a strain ever since he signed in 2013.
Now as he approaches the peak of his career – and with Messi showing no signs of dropping his standards – it has become increasingly difficult. So if he ends up at PSG, Barça could and should just say: ‘it was good while it lasted and it’s your loss not ours.’ Instead this summer they slowly moved from a state of denial to one of powerless incompetence.
‘Neymar is not content’ was Diario Sport’s story a couple of days before the US