Former FC Barcelona director of football Eric Abidal has some explosive new revelations about the Neymar Jr. saga. the Brazilian's departure from FC Barcelona has proven to be a catalyst in a series of events that led to a major crisis. Now, Abidal is claiming that he actually had the opportunity to bring the Brazilian back, but the club signed Antoine Griezmann instead.

Abidal says that in 2019, he tried to orchestrate Neymar's Barcelona comeback from Paris Saint-Germain. It may be remembered that this was something that club captain Lionel Messi had wanted, and it is believed that his relationship with club management went on a free-fall after the transfer failed to materialise.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Abidal said, "Ten days before the end of the transfer window, I went to Paris to talk with Leonardo [PSG's sporting director] and I was with my CEO, and we were talking about Neymar."

He explained that the fact that the CEO flew all the way to Paris meant that the discussions were serious. However, the signing of Griezmann and Neymar's court cases against the club proved to be major obstacles. "One of the arguments against Neymar was that he had a court case against the club, so it's not easy. They said he would have to stop the court process if he wanted to come back."

Abidal claims that he wanted to sign Neymar but then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu decided to go after the Atletico Madrid star.

"What we needed was a winger and when Neymar was in Barcelona he was amazing. This is not about which player is better, it was what I thought was the position we needed at the time. The team needed a real winger. The president decided to sign Griezmann," he said.

Abidal had a falling out with Messi shortly thereafter, with both parties publicly firing shots at each other in what has evolved into "Barcagate." Abidal was fired after the disastrous 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich and Bartomeu resigned less than a year later. Messi himself tried to leave but was tied down by a massive release clause.

Neymar Jr.
Brazil's Neymar joined Paris Saint-Germain in August 2017 Photo: AFP / FRANCK FIFE