Ex-Barcelona superstar Johan Cruyff fears Neymar's astronomical wages could lead to issues within the Camp Nou squad, noting that "nobody is God at 21."
Cruyff, who won four La Liga titles and a European Cup among a catalogue of successes as a player at Barcelona, criticised his former side for paying their forward too much without asking him to prove he is the equal of others in Gerardo Martino's squad.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo (h/t Goal.com's Stefan Coerts) provides the quotes:
Barcelona's problem is Neymar. He is a great player, let there be no doubt about that, but you cannot sign a 21-year-old and pay him more than players who have won it all. Nobody is god at the age of 21.
Plus Barcelona already have the greatest player in the world [Lionel Messi] and a 21-year-old kid cannot be the key figure. This is impossible in football. At the age of 26, yes, but not at 21.
Cruyff, a legendary figure who won three Ballon d'Or trophies and later coached Barcelona, often offers a highly critical opinion on his former club.
The Independent's Pete Jenson outlines that Neymar earns €8.8 million a year in basic salary, equating to €44 million over the course of his five-year contract.
The Associated Press' Rob Harris posted an official Barcelona document which disclosed the details of Neymar's transfer and wages:
The full cost of signing Neymar & his €56.7m salary over 5 years revealed by Barcelona pic.twitter.com/G45873mnma— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 24, 2014
Of course, these are gargantuan figures in any football spectrum, the likes of which put Neymar not far off some of the highest earners in the sport, such as Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and fellow Barca team-mate Lionel Messi.
Is Neymar deserving of such high wages?
Cruyff's comments suggest that players may feel their hard work is perhaps going unnoticed when compared to the Brazilian, enjoying a maiden season in Spain which has produced seven goals and 10 assists in league competition, per Transfermarkt.
The likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta have won everything there is to win in football, including a World Cup, and Cruyff's insinuation is that such stars have greater right to high wages than Neymar.
One of those who won't be as concerned with such matters is manager Gerardo Martino, who insists he'll remain Barcelona's boss until the end of his agreed contract, which expires in the summer of 2015.
There had been speculation that the Argentine would resign at the end of this campaign, but ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan quotes Martino saying in the wake of his side's 4-3 win over Real Madrid last weekend:
I always fulfil my contract. That is the truth. So what the president has said is correct. I am not concerned much about next year, just this season, the time we have left, the chance to battle on three fronts. I really wonder why this is so important.
The Times' Rory Smith had suggested that Argentina might look to appoint the manager as their next national team coach after the World Cup this summer:
Interesting suggestions in Argentina that the AFA want Tata Martino to replace #lufc legend Alejandro Sabella as coach after the World Cup.— Rory Smith (@RorySmithTimes) March 14, 2014
Barca's crucial El Clasico win brought them back to within a point of La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid and makes them serious title contenders once again following a period where it looked like the two Madrid giants may be left to fight it out.
Neymar's wages are a concern for the Barca board to deal with, but Martino's only duty is ensuring his players are in the right frame of mind to do their jobs as effectively as possible.
If Sunday's win at the Bernabeu was anything to go by, there doesn't appear to be any dressing-room rifts in Catalan country just yet.