Former Barcelona president Joan Gaspart has told Cadena SER he believes Neymar’s pending move to Paris Saint-Germain is comparable to Luis Figo’s departure to Real Madrid.
Figo was denounced as “a traitor” and “a money-grabber” when he crossed the Clasico divide in 2000 for a world-record fee, and had a pig’s head thrown at him on one return to Camp Nou.
Neymar’s move to PSG is unlikely to provoke the same levels of anger because it is not to Barca’s greatest rivals, but a backlash has began.
A poster calling him “a traitor” and “a mercenary” has been seen at various locations around Barcelona, while the club have already removed him from advertising.
“I’ve seen similar situations but Neymar is in the same boat as Figo, who was alone but now has Neymar for company,” Gaspart said.
“I’ve seen great players like [Diego] Maradona and Ronaldo, who were better than Neymar, also leave Barca because other clubs paid their clauses.
“But they went with dignity, without making so much fuss. I’ve not liked his [Neymar’s] attitude with the club, with the supporters and with his teammates.”
Gaspart also voiced disappointment that another former Barca president, Joan Laporta, had used Neymar’s departure to criticise Josep Maria Bartomeu and the current board.
“It hurts me that people I respect are using this to blame the club,” he added.
“Neymar’s the one to blame, full stop.
“It’s not Barca’s fault. It’s not the board’s fault. It’s not the players’ fault… they did everything for him to stay. It’s Neymar’s fault.”
On Wednesday, Barcelona said Neymar had missed training and informed them he wanted to go to PSG, releasing a statement which said the Ligue 1 club would have to pay his full €222 million release clause.
However, when the player’s legal team arrived at the La Liga offices to pay the clause on Thursday, they were turned away and the payment was refused.
La Liga president Javier Tebas said earlier this week that he would not accept the money, accusing PSG of “financial doping” and threatening to report them to UEFA and the European Union for breaching financial fair play (FFP) regulations.