Should PSG splash the cash on Ney­mar’s star?

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

PARIS: De­nials from Barcelona are do­ing lit­tle to halt the fer­vour that Brazil star Ney­mar could be join­ing Paris Saint-Ger­main in a trans­fer that more than dou­bles the world record.

“We want Ney­mar to be with us,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. “We know the im­por­tance he has in our game, our dress­ing room, the team dy­namic, and we want him with us. It’s clear.”

Barcelona’s league cam­paign be­gins on Au­gust 20, while PSG’s sea­son opener is on Au­gust 5.

Re­ports in Spain and France state that the trans­fer could be com­pleted by the end of July.

“Un Pari Mag­ique” (A Magic Gam­ble) read the front page head­line on sports daily L’Equipe on Satur­day. It was ac­com­pa­nied by a photo of Ney­mar with his hand on his fore­head like a ship’s cap­tain, gaz­ing into the hori­zon as if long­ingly eye­ing a fu­ture des­ti­na­tion.

“PSG must have one of the top five play­ers in the world. We are look­ing to sign one this sum­mer,” coach Unai Emery said

Ney­mar cer­tainly fits the bill. While not at the level of Barcelona star Lionel Messi or Real Madrid’s pro­lific Ron­aldo, the 25-year-old Ney­mar has longer left at the top and has not even reached his peak.

It would be a mas­sive coup for Emery given his trou­bled first sea­son.

PSG re­lin­quished their league ti­tle to Monaco and made un­wanted his­tory by be­com­ing the first team elim­i­nated from the Cham­pi­ons League knock­out stages hav­ing won the first leg 4-0. PSG lost 6-1 away to Barcelona in the last 16, with PSG’s tor­men­tor be­ing Ney­mar.

The Qatari-owned club’s court­ing of Ney­mar dates back to April last year.

With un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic’s fu­ture, PSG had dis­cus­sions with the player’s fa­ther and his agent, Wag­ner Riberio.

But two months later, Ney­mar reached an agree­ment to ex­tend his Barcelona con­tract un­til 2021.

Fast for­ward, and sec­tions of the Brazil­ian and Span­ish me­dia reignited the deal this month, say­ing that Ney­mar wants to emerge out of Messi’s shadow — which couldn’t hap­pen for a while see­ing as Messi has agreed a new Barcelona con­tract un­til 2021.

But the last thing Valverde needs is los­ing Ney­mar.

“There are ru­mours, we’re aware of them,” Valverde said. “We’re happy with him and he’s happy with us.”

The PSG squad fea­tures sev­eral of Ney­mar’s com­pa­tri­ots. The cap­tain is Thi­ago Silva, whose cen­tre­back part­ner is fel­low Brazil­ian Mar­quin­hos. PSG also re­cently signed ram­pag­ing Brazil­ian full­back Dani Alves from Ju­ven­tus.

Which po­si­tion would Ney­mar play for PSG? Would he fit in or clash with star striker Edin­son Ca­vani?

Awk­ward ques­tions for PSG.

Ney­mar can play on both flanks, but should be the lead­ing main man.

That role al­ready be­longs to Ca­vani, who signed a new PSG con­tract un­til 2020 af­ter net­ting a league-lead­ing 35 goals last sea­son.

Hav­ing waited three years to be­come PSG’s No 1, slog­ging in out wide right to ac­com­mo­date Ibrahi­movic, it is highly un­likely Ca­vani would wel­come do­ing the same again if Ney­mar joins.

Equally, hav­ing played a sup­port­ing role to Messi for the past two sea­sons, Ney­mar would not want to play sec­ond fid­dle again.

PSG is des­per­ate to join Eu­rope’s elite, but sign­ing Ney­mar may pro­duce a con­flict the club should avoid. For his ar­rival could push Ca­vani out of the door.

PSG may be bet­ter served sign­ing Arse­nal’s Alexis Sanchez, who is not as skil­ful as Ney­mar but more hard­work­ing.

Play­ing Ney­mar at striker would add flair, but ar­guably less goals: rais­ing the ques­tion whether it’s ac­tu­ally worth it for PSG to sign him. – AP

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