Barcelona don't have the money to bring Neymar back from Paris Saint-Germain, according to Spanish football expert Guillem Balague.
The journalist discussed rumours linking the Brazilian with a return to the Camp Nou on Football Index's Five Things:
Per Ollie Salt of the Daily Star, he said:
"Barcelona cannot afford Neymar. And that should be the end of the story of that one really
"The percentage of wages is sky high in relation to the money that comes in. The plan for next season is to go back to a more decent 69 per cent percentage instead of the 83 per cent that they had the previous season.
"With bringing Neymar, that would mean not just his wages, a transfer fee of at least €200 million—the kind of money that Barcelona cannot afford."
Barcelona's current wage bill is not conducive to them making a marquee signing at this moment in time.
Football finance blog Swiss Ramble recently delved into their numbers:
Swiss Ramble @SwissRamble
#FCBarcelona wage bill of €487m is an amazing €92m higher than Real Madrid €395m. The “big two” pay more than twice as much as Atleti €178m, followed by Sevilla €100m and Valencia €79m. Barca’s €529m total wage bill includes €43m for other sports (up €4m). https://t.co/HBsU402TuL
Despite their inability to bring Neymar back, Balague believes Barcelona have allowed the speculation to circulate because of Real Madrid's interest in him.
"The one that they really are excited about, that's Florentino Perez, it's Neymar.
"Why? Because he feels he could fill the void of a Cristiano Ronaldo or [Lionel] Messi, there's nobody else that he sees that could have the commercial impact of him but also on the pitch as well. And Neymar definitely wants to leave."
Madrid were left with an enormous hole to fill when they sold Ronaldo to Juventus in the summer, and they are so far yet to replace him:
The only other player in the world who can regularly match or exceed Ronaldo's numbers is Messi—and therefore not an option for Real—but Neymar comes close.
The 26-year-old has 13 goals and seven assists to his name in 16 appearances this season, and in the last campaign he racked up 28 and 16, respectively, in just 30 games.
Because of Barcelona's finances, Neymar joining Real seems more realistic.
However, as Balague added, that does not mean PSG will let him go:
"The problem is, PSG have not put any kind of figure to his head. They haven't allowed him to leave. It's going to be very, very hard.
"Real Madrid are favourites, but right now the most likelihood is that he stays at PSG, because right now PSG are not willing to negotiate."
The Parisians smashed the world record when they splashed out €222 million on Neymar in 2017, and they will have done so with the intention of making him their talisman for the long term.
Most of all, they'll be hoping he can deliver them the UEFA Champions League to cement their status among Europe's elite.
They have only had him in their ranks for little more than a year, and he missed the final third of his debut season through injury.
Even if Los Blancos can muster a phenomenal offer for him, PSG will likely fight tooth and nail to keep him in the French capital.