Report: Barcelona Could End Neymar Interest Because of Ansu Fati's Rise

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistOctober 15, 2019

TOPSHOT - Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar reacts at the end of the French Trophy of Champions football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Rennes (SRFC) at the Shenzhen Universiade stadium on August 3, 2019. - Representatives of FC Barcelona went on August 13, 2019 to France to discuss with those of Paris of a possible return to Barça of the Brazilian star Neymar without the file changing significantly. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

Ansu Fati's rapid rise this season doesn't just mean Barcelona have another potential young star in their ranks. It could also mean the Camp Nou club ends its interest in bringing back Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

A report from Mundo Deportivo (h/t Luis Mazariegos of SB Nation's Barca Blaugranes) noted how the development of 16-year-old Fati has Barca considering alternatives to Neymar, whose injury history remains a concern for the reigning La Liga champions.

Barca didn't seem too concerned about Neymar this summer when they appeared to be determined to tempt him away from the French capital. Neymar eventually stayed put with Les Parisiens, but there were rumours of an eventual reunion with Barcelona strikers Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, with whom he won the UEFA Champions League.

Signing an alternative to centre-forward Suarez is becoming more of a priority for Barca than adding Neymar for a comeback tour, according to Mundo Deportivo (h/t Mazariegos). The report also pointed to uncertainty at the executive level as a potential problem, with Josep Maria Bartomeu set to stand down as president.

Bringing Neymar back to Barca is not thought to have the support of everyone, making any transfer a dicey selling point for a candidate attempting to win over the electorate.

Some supporters of Barcelona may have soured on the idea of Neymar's return based on reports from Marca (h/t MailOnline's Ben Nagle) detailing how the 27-year-old preferred a move to bitter rivals Real Madrid this summer.

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Shelving the idea of re-signing Neymar could prove to be a lucky escape for Barca. The club's concerns about his fitness are well-founded, with the attacker now out for a month with a hamstring problem suffered on international duty with Brazil, per Darren Wells of the Daily Mirror.

Neymar has been blighted by injuries during this calendar year, including a metatarsal problem that led to a lengthy absence.

Barca don't need another wide forward after signing Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid for €120 million in the summer. The Frenchman has made a slow start to life with his new club, prompting reports that the Blaugrana could use him as a makeweight to convince PSG to sell Neymar next summer, according to Le10 Sport (h/t MailOnline's Daniel Davis).

Griezmann will likely make the grade, though, and Ousmane Dembele is still around to offer glimpses of his mercurial talent. Fati has flashed his talent by scoring two goals and providing an assist during five appearances in the Spanish top flight this season.

His performances have been rewarded with a call-up to the Spain U21 squad, per Sport's Jordi Gil. Fati was also named as a nominee for the Golden Boy award, which goes to the best player under 21 in Europe, according to Omnisport (h/t Yahoo Sport UK).

Barca are aware Fati's talents are already catching eyes, and the club is ready to secure his future with a contract set to include a release clause worth £88 million, per El Mundo Deportivo (h/t Kieran Gill of MailOnline).

It would be a tremendous show of faith in a promising talent who is yet to prove himself consistently at the highest level. At the same time, such an investment in Fati would surely show Barca are ready to build a new team without the familiar face of Neymar.