Former Super Eagles winger and ex-Barcelona player, Emmanuel Amuneke, has thrown his weight behind Neymar Jrâ€™s world record switch from Barcelona to French club Paris Saint Germain (PSG).
Amuneke was a regular member of the Barcelona team in the late 1990s when Lius Figo made a switch to bitter rival Real Madrid and witnessed the buzz the transfer caused at Camp Nou.
But speaking with THISDAY about the move of the influential Brazilian forward to PSG, Amuneke insisted that the controversy trailing Neymar Jrâ€™s move is just a reenact of what happened when Figo left Barcelona.
“As a former footballer, I think it is rational that everybody must respect the player’s wish to move on in life most especially after giving his best to Barcelona. Neymar has a right to choose where to go to.
“The transfer market and endorsements in sports today have made players to be vulnerable to movements like this. The ‘cult hero’ stature is now in past tense.
Although the â‚¬222million transfer fee looks outrageous to me, we have to come to terms with the fact that the record will even be broken within the next few years,” remarked the former Super Eagles winger in a telephone interview with THISDAY at the weekend.
Amuneke recalled that the Figo saga happened when all players were on vacation and it was difficult for them (Barcelona players) to rally round and convince him not to move to the other side of La Liga El Clasico.
“We were shocked when on resumption for the new season to learn that our hero, Figo, will be leaving the club for Real Madrid.
â€œHe did not come around to see us at Camp Nou but his agents were on hand to facilitate his transfer hence there was little the players could do to convince him to stay. However, we all respected his wish,” Amuneke recalled.
But in the Neymar saga, the episode came into public domain during the pre-season tour of America and it afforded the players to try and convince him to stay and at a time reports claimed the player may have a change of mind until the release clause of â‚¬222million was paid.
“No club will want to lose any of the best players in its fold. However, to many big players, switching to others clubs is either for financial reasons or to win laurels with the new big clubs,” the former African Footballer of the Year winner noted.