As the Neymar soap opera continues, Real Madrid has emerged as the front-runner for the Brazilian’s signature.
Los Merengues may be tiring in their pursuit of Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, who still asserts an intention to leave Old Trafford, and appear to be switching attention to Neymar.
The player himself has always declared a move back to Barca as his preference, but with PSG keen not to do business with the Catalans and so few clubs in the world able to afford Neymar, Real Madrid has become a likely destination.
He won’t be the first to play for both Spanish giants, Javier Saviola, Luis Figo and the original Ronaldo have all crossed the divide, so Neymar’s insistence that he wants to end up at the Not Camp is of little relevance, and won’t put Real Madrid off.
Neymar sat out PSG’s 3-0 opening day victory over Nimes at the weekend, and it’s conceivable he won’t ever pull on the club’s colours in anger, ever again.
PSG fans held aloft a banner telling the Brazilian to “get lost” and chanted about him during the game.
”It’s tricky, I don’t know what to say,” boss Thomas Tuchel told L’Equipe.
”I saw it on my colleagues’ smartphones because I did not hear them (the chants) during the match. Can I understand it? Yes and no. He’s still our player, my player, and I protect all my players.
”He’s in my dressing room. I can understand that not everyone has liked what he has said and done.”
Real have players to trade with and tempt. PSG, or Manchester United for that matter, are not biting. Bale, Isco, James and Navas, could all be made available. James was recently offered to the English club along with £27.6m for Paul Pogba, and the Bale saga has been well documented throughout the close-season.
However the latest twist, which includes World Player of the Year Luca Modric moving to the French capital, may have increased Paris’ appetite to conclude a matter that threatens to drag on in the interests of no-one in particular.
Real boss, Zinedine Zidane has added fuel to the speculation. Speaking after Real’s penalty shootout defeat to Roma in their final pre-season friendly, Zidane suggested Neymar moving to Madrid remains a possibility, with the transfer window for European clubs not closing until September 2.
”Neymar is not [in our squad] but until September 2, anything can happen. We are with the squad that we have and we are only thinking about that.”
You wonder of the consequences for Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale should Real get their man. Hazard has been lambasted pre-season in the Spanish press for being overweight mainly, something that’s understandable only when you consider it’s the Spanish press doing the talking.
But where does he fit in should Neymar arrive? Perhaps the two can co-exist, but what of Bale, who is certain to be pushed even further down the pecking order. He’ll not want to gather dust on the bench with the 2020 Euros coming around at the end of the season.
Perhaps his financially-rewarding move to Chinese club, Jiangsu Suning, will become resurrected, although speculation exists his family does not want to uproot to Asia.
Meanwhile, Manchester United are left exposed should Real come back aggressively in pursuit of Pogba. The English transfer window is now firmly shut, and they would not be in a position to replace until January. For this reason they will attempt to block all Real Madrid approaches firmly.
Pogba’s latest musings are hardly encouraging to Old Trafford hierarchy or fans however. According to SkySports, he’s admitted there is a “big question mark” over his future, but maintains he will continue to “give everything” for Manchester United while he remains at Old Trafford.
Pogba told RMC Sport: “I am always good when I play football. I am doing what I love, it’s my job. I will give the maximum every time I will be on the pitch.
”Now, we know there have been things said. Time will tell. We remain still on this big question mark.
”I am at Manchester. I am having fun with my team-mates. I want to always win the matches. I will always give everything when I am on the pitch.”
Spoiled kids and hedonistic clubs, both sides trying to out-greed the other. Just another day in the upper echelons of the European soccer transfer soap opera, really.
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