LONDON: Paris Saint-Germain have made it clear to Neymar that there are absolutely no circumstances under which the Qatar-owned club’s record signing will be allowed to leave for Real Madrid this summer.
If necessary, PSG are prepared to present the Brazil international with the option of playing his football in Paris next season or not playing football at all, sources at the club have told Arab News.
Privately and publicly encouraged by Madrid president Florentino Perez to return to Spanish football just one year after his global record transfer from Barcelona, Neymar and his father have been agitating for the move for months. According to PSG sources, Qatar will not countenance handing over the most high-profile and expensive acquisition of a project designed to secure the club’s first Champions League.
Senior club figures have spent much of Neymar’s first season attempting to placate the Brazil international. In just one example, club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and sporting director Antero Henrique flew to South America in March to meet Neymar and his father and discuss how the club could keep the pair happy. Talks between the two camps included asking Neymar’s thoughts on who should replace Unai Emery as PSG coach, said a source close to the player.
The meeting followed a debut campaign pockmarked by evidence of Neymar’s discontent in France. There has been on and off-field tension between the forward and leading goalscorer Edinson Cavani, whom the Brazil international wanted to replace as the taker of the side’s penalties and free kicks.
Neymar complained about coach Emery’s tactics, man management and refusal to allow him to skip certain matches. On more than one occasion, the forward unilaterally declared himself unfit to play. As he recovered from surgery on a fractured metatarsal in his home country, the 26-year-old provoked further controversy by posting an image of himself playing online poker while his PSG team-mates secured the Ligue 1 title.
Bought out of his Barcelona contract for €222 million ($262 million) at the beginning of August, Neymar was rewarded with a basic salary worth more than €300 million over the length of a five-year contract — at that point the most lucrative ever agreed. No release clause was included in the Brazilian’s new deal, however, so a second successive summer switch can only happen with Qatari consent.
That, according to PSG sources, will not be forthcoming, with the club’s hierarchy ready to reprise the negotiating tactics with which they kept Marco Verratti in France a year ago. Holding offers from leading Liga and Serie A sides, the Italy midfielder pushed PSG to be allowed to leave only to be told that his options were: “To stay. Or stay and not play. Whichever you’d prefer.”
Verratti stayed and played. PSG are confident that, ultimately, Neymar will make the same choice under Thomas Tuchel, the new coach appointed by the club with the aim of landing a first Champions League. Last week Neymar published an image of himself in his employer’s 2018-19 first-team kit. “Proud to wear the new jersey and to continue giving you joy,” read the caption.