Should PSG splash the cash on Neymar’s star?
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