“There isn't a better club in the world for Neymar than Barça and Barça won't find a better player than Neymar. They were made for each other," is what a close friend of Neymar told SPORT a few weeks ago. The events of the last couple of weeks have moved closer to making that reunion a reality. Here are the reasons why Neymar wants a Camp Nou return ahead of any other option.
1.- The player recognises he made a mistake in leaving
Neymar Jr. fell to 12th in the most recent Ballon d'Or rankings. His injury issues over the last two years haven't helped but he's never been further away from winning that individual honour than he is right now. At 27, he needs to retake control of his career. From brushing shoulders with Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo he's now an afterthought. The Brazilian wants to get back to his best form, the form he showed at the Camp Nou every other week, and put an end to his PSG hell. He'll be 30 when the next World Cup rolls around and it'll likely be his last at the peak of his powers. Now is the time to change things.
2.- Learning from Messi
Neymar wanted to lead a project which was desperate to win a Champions League - and failed. In a less competitive league and sharing the dressing room with overpaid stars, Neymar has now learnt his lesson. He now knows it is much better to learn and improve at the side of Messi, the greatest of all time, rather than try to do it all by himself.
Leo is an example for Neymar to follow. He needs to organise his life away from the pitch and put his entire focus on improving his football. Leo wouldn't tolerate somebody not pulling their weight or being selfish. And Neymar knows that alongside Messi and Suarez, the trident work so well together and each compliments the other.
3.- Barcelona's global standing
Not one Brazilian TV company showed Ligue 1 football last season. Following Brazil's failure in the Russia World Cup, Neymar hoped to regain the love and support from his homeland but nobody was able to watch his matches. Whilst he might have earned a higher salary the global marketing when it comes to sponsorship deals is much less lucrative playing in France than it is for Barça. His image in the world of football has lost a lot of its value over the past two years.
4.- To be happy again
Nasser Al-Khelaifi said: "The players aren't here to have a good time." This was taken by many as an attack on Neymar. The one aspect Barça greats all allude to as why they signed for the club is so they could "feel happy". Neymar hasn't felt happy for months in Paris and would love to line up alongside his friends in a winning project.
5.- Barça is a place he knows well
Ronaldinho Gaucho lost his way in the world of football at the same age Neymar is now. Although he went on to win the Copa Libertadores with Atletico Mineiro in 2013. Neymar has said on various occasions that he didn't want to follow the same path and that's why he wants to pick the right strategic club for his new chapter. In that regard, there's nowhere better than Barcelona. It's a city he knows well, a place he considers home and is surrounded by teammates who have missed him since he decided to leave through the back door.
An adventure in the Premier League would carry certain risks, ones Neymar doesn't want to take at this point in his career. Real Madrid are likely to throw everything including the kitchen sink to snatch the Brazilian away from Barça's clutches but, for him, there's no place like home.