BARCELONA, Spain | Barcelona is facing an uncertain future without Lionel Messi’s heir apparent.
Neymar flourished alongside Messi for four seasons, and everyone in Barcelona — executives, players, fans — counted on the 25-year-old Brazil striker to eventually become the team’s leader after he signed a contract extension last year through 2021.
That plan was blown away on Thursday when Neymar’s astonishing 222 million euro ($262 million) move to Paris Saint-Germain was completed after his release clause was triggered — doubling the world record for a soccer transfer.
The departure of Neymar leaves Barcelona in the position of having a lot of extra cash and the clear need to shore up an aging team that has lost its second-best player and its projected star for years to come.
Neymar is poised to become an even better player in Paris than the one who has dazzled Camp Nou with his lightning-quick feet and flair for beautiful goals.
Barcelona’s other top players, however, are all eyeing the twilight of their careers. While he still hasn’t lost a step, Messi is 30 and entering his 14th season. Striker Luis Suarez is also 30, and midfielder Andres Iniesta has reached 33 and is in the final year of his contract.
Iniesta considered Neymar irreplaceable, no matter how much money the club would get in exchange.
“I can’t see how having 200 or 300 million (euros) is more beneficial…
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