Xavi says he finds it 'bizarre' Neymar wanted to leave Barcelona
By Allan Valente
Last Updated: 12/08/17 9:18pm
Xavi says he finds it “bizarre” that Neymar wanted to leave Barcelona and compared his world-record move to Luis Figo’s departure from the club.
The Brazil international, who won the Champions League alongside Xavi in 2015, sealed a £198m move to Paris Saint-Germain last week after four years at the Nou Camp which also saw him win two La Liga titles and three Copa del Rey crowns.
Former Barcelona captain Xavi insists it was a surprise that Neymar decided to make the move to the French capital and said it evoked memories of Figo's shock move to rivals Real Madrid in 2000.
"It was his decision and you have to respect it. It's a personal choice. Players today move to where they're wanted the most," Xavi told Le Parisien. "But nobody could have imagined that he'd leave Barca.
"It's bizarre that a player doesn't want to stay at Barca. It's very rare. It's been 17 years since Luis Figo left for Real Madrid. As with Ney, it was his choice at the time.
"I don't know how it happened, if there were meetings, conversations... there are many interpretations of this record transfer."
The 37-year-old, who now plays for Al Sadd in Qatar, won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues with the Nou Camp side, as well as the World Cup and two European Championships with Spain.
He admitted he was surprised to see his former team-mate say goodbye to supporters with a short social media message.
"I understand the Blaugrana fans are upset because Neymar gave no explanation. He left Barca without a press conference or anything, but hey, that's how it is.
"We'll see what he can give to PSG. What I'm sure of is that Barca did not expect a club to pay the €222m release clause. Now they have to manage that money."
Barcelona have been linked with a move for Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund as a replacement for Neymar and Xavi believes he could be a success in Catalonia, if a deal can be done, if he can handle the pressure of playing for Ernesto Valverde's side.
"He's a versatile player with a lot of physical and technical qualities, plus he's very fast," he said.
"He's 20, which means two things: he has his whole future ahead of him but he has to show that he has the mental strength for a club as demanding as Barca. Any good player today is worth millions."