Pic­ture this! Pen­sive Ney­mar stirs re­newed PSG fever

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

PARIS: Ney­mar’s de­ci­sion to post a photo of him­self in thought­ful con­tem­pla­tion sparked a fresh wave of spec­u­la­tion that he is on the verge of seal­ing a world record 222-mil­lion-euro ($256.8 mil­lion) move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Ger­main.

The Instagram pic­ture, even ac­com­pa­nied by a match­ing emoji, shows the 25year-old Brazil­ian su­per­star stretched out on the pitch with his chin rest­ing on his left hand. It gar­nered more than 1.5 mil­lion ‘likes’ within 12 hours of it be­ing posted in the United States where Barcelona are on a pre­sea­son tour. Three of the ‘likes’ came from PSG play­ers-winger An­gel Di Maria, goal­keeper Kevin Trapp and mid­fielder Marco Ver­ratti. French news­pa­per Le Parisien fu­elled spec­u­la­tion Fri­day with an un­sourced re­port that Ney­mar had told sev­eral Barcelona team­mates of his in­ten­tions to join PSG, adding that the trans­fer is con­sid­ered a done deal by some Barcelona play­ers.

That echoes me­dia com­pany Es­porte In­ter­a­tivo’s in­sis­tence that an agree­ment has been reached for Ney­mar to move to the French cap­i­tal from Barcelona, where he has played since 2013.

On Tues­day, PSG skip­per-and fel­low Brazil­ian-Thi­ago Silva gave a dig­i­tal thumbs up to a mocked-up photo mon­tage pub­lished by Es­porte In­ter­a­tivo show­ing Ney­mar in a PSG shirt along with com­pa­tri­ots and prospec­tive team­mates in France.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde de­scribed the on­go­ing saga as a “time of ru­mours”. “We un­der­stand it’s how it is. He is with us right now, one of us,” said Valverde in East Ruther­ford where his team plays Ju­ven­tus in a pre-sea­son friendly late yes­ter­day. That match will give Ney­mar a chance to dis­play his cov­eted skills for the first time this sum­mer. “He’s a player we love and we want,” Valverde said. “Not only foot­ball wise, but also for the things he brings to the locker room. “There’s no need to worry about some­thing we don’t know if it’s go­ing to hap­pen or not. If it hap­pens in the fu­ture, we’ll see.” PSG skip­per Thi­ago Silva told Le Parisien he had no idea if the Brazil­ian star was about to switch to the French cap­i­tal.

“I don’t know. I hear a lot from jour­nal­ists and a player like Ney­mar would be an in­ter­est­ing ad­di­tion to the PSG pro­ject,” said Thi­ago, speak­ing in Florida-where the French club takes on Tot­ten­ham in a friendly on Satur­day. “But, for the mo­ment, it is es­pe­cially im­por­tant to pre­pare for the new sea­son. Af­ter and if Ney­mar ar­rives it would be a good thing for the squad.” Is Ney­mar go­ing to sign? “Not yet,” smiled the cap­tain.

‘THE FU­TURE OF THE CLUB’

In Spain, it was re­ported by Cata­lan me­dia group RAC 1 that “cer­tain play­ers” at Barcelona have al­ready tried to con­vince Ney­mar not to ac­cept the PSG of­fer which would dwarf the 105 mil­lion euros Manch­ester United paid Ju­ven­tus for Paul Pogba. Javier Mascher­ano said Ney­mar was “the fu­ture” of Barcelona as the Ar­gen­tine pleaded with the striker to stay put.

“In the case of Ney, ob­vi­ously he is young, and I hope he’s here with Barcelona for many more years,” Mascher­ano told Amer­i­can sports net­work ESPN. “He is a re­ally im­por­tant player for the club. Be­cause of his age, he’s the fu­ture of the club, and we hope we can keep on count­ing on him.” How­ever, it’s be­lieved the Brazil­ian is be­ing se­duced by the im­mense wealth on of­fer to him from the Qatari own­ers of PSG and by the op­por­tu­nity to have a team built around him.

The daily Sport news­pa­per also claimed that Luis Suarez has also at­tempted to per­suade Ney­mar not to split up the MSN front­line at Barcelona made up of Li­onel Messi, Suarez and the Brazil­ian star.

Catalunya Ra­dio said that the deal is “95 per­cent com­plete”. One of the keys would be the pay­ment to Ney­mar’s fa­ther and agent of a “pre­mium ex­ceed­ing the 40 mil­lion” paid when the player con­tro­ver­sially moved to Spain from San­tos. Other re­ports have claimed that Ney­mar se­nior has re­cently met with, or is about to meet, PSG sport­ing di­rec­tor An­tero Hen­rique. How­ever, Barcelona vice-pres­i­dent Jordi Mestre in­sisted Tues­day that it is “200 per­cent” cer­tain that Ney­mar will stay at the club. In a pub­lic game of tit­for-tat pro­nounce­ments, PSG coach Unai Emery hailed the

— AFP

HAR­RI­SON: Barcelona’s Brazil­ian for­ward Ney­mar stretches dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion at the Red Bull Arena in Har­ri­son, New Jer­sey, on Fri­day, a day be­fore their match against Ju­ven­tus FC.

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