Barcelona’s trip to Paris on Tuesday in a bid to beat Real Madrid to the signing of Neymar appears to have been in vain with their opening offer of £74million plus Philippe Coutinho turned down.
Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu is due to meet his Paris Saint-Germain counterpart Nasser Al-Khelaifi on Thursday in Liverpool at the meeting of the European Clubs Association.
But after it emerged last week that Neymar’s agent Pini Zahavi was talking to Real Madrid, the Catalan club tried to speed up negotiations with PSG.
Bartomeu sent Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal, his assistant Javier Bordas and Andre Cury, the club’s Brazil-based director, to meet with PSG sporting director Leonardo and his number two Angelo Castellazzi.
But in a midday meeting Barcelona are understood to have proposed a cash plus Coutinho offer that PSG owners rejected out-right.
Barcelona also suggested the possibility of including another player in the deal with midfielder Ivan Rakitic suggested.
But the French champions were still not satisfied. They want their £206m investment in Neymar paid back in full.
There is some suggestion that it has been put to Barcelona that an offer of Coutinho, Rakitic and Nelson Semedo PLUS £93m might satisfy them.
But Barcelona do not want to include Semedo. Making Rakitic part of the deal will be tough enough.
Sportsmail understands Rakitic has recently bought a beachside property in Barcelona and does not want to move
Neymar’s situation in the French capital worsened at the weekend when supporters sang abusive songs and unfurled banners telling him to leave the club after his summer spent pushing for a move.
Barcelona have also proposed a loan deal to PSG with an obligatory purchase next summer but PSG’s owners had to pay their £205m for Neymar in one lump sum when they signed him in 2017 and they do not appear to be open to compromise.
There was some suggestion in Spain last night that Barcelona had requested permission from PSG to meet with Neymar but the 27-year-old was on Tuesday still on the south coast of Portugal enjoying a day-off.
Sources close to Bartomeu say his obsession this summer has been to bring Neymar back in the hope that he can help the club win another Champions League in his two remaining years as president.
But Barcelona had to take out a loan to sign Antoine Griezmann this summer and would need to ‘pay with players’ if they are to bring Neymar back.
Neymar earns around £34m net at PSG. To match that Barcelona – who would also have to pay the tax on his earnings – would need to shed out almost £65m a season in salary.
Real Madrid were observing Barcelona’s very public meeting with PSG from afar on Tuesday.
They have briefed that despite their interest in the player they will need to sell players before they can sign the 27-year-old.