With Neymar’s failure to report back to Paris Saint-Germain this week following the end of the Copa America, it’s become crystal clear that the world’s most expensive player wants to leave the French capital. Rumours have abounded for many weeks now, but the 27-year-old’s latest actions have confirmed the reports as being true. So, where’s he going, and what are the best odds on the Neymar transfer?
After chasing the money once once already with his move to PSG, it seems that Neymar’s learnt his lesson. We can probably discount the advances of teams like Manchester United (50/1), who’ve been throwing vast amounts of cash at their problems for a number of years now, while a move to neighbours City wouldn’t seem to suit the player’s lifestyle.
Even so, the Etihad would seem the likeliest destination if the Brazilian were to fancy the Premier League, and he’s 66/1 to join up with Pep Guardiola’s side. The two Manchester giants are probably the only teams in England who can afford to buy Neymar, while Chelsea are under a transfer embargo. We can also rule out a move to Italy on the same basis, with Juventus the only team he’d consider joining, and their budget already stretched with last summer’s capture of Cristiano Ronaldo.
So that leaves Spain, and the two Clasico rivals, Barcelona and Real Madrid. When Neymar moved to Paris, some people were under the impression it was a ploy on behalf of the player, his agent father, and the power brokers in Madrid, that it was an avenue for the former Santos forward to end up plying his trade at the Bernabeu.
Barcelona would never countenance the sale of one of their most prized assets to their bitter rivals. His release clause perhaps negated their wishes, but the vitriol would’ve followed him for the rest of his career if he’d crossed the divide like Luis Figo did back in 2000. A sojourn in Ligue 1 could’ve smoothed that particular path a little.
However, Madrid – with Zinedine Zidane calling the shots on the transfer front as part of his deal to return to the club last season – opted to splash out a fee in the region of £150m to finally land long-term target Eden Hazard earlier this summer. The Belgian operates primarily, and most effectively, in the same position as Neymar, while Zidane seems desperate to land Paul Pogba in another huge outlay for Los Blancos.
That leaves the path clear for Barcelona, which could be the team Neymar’s hankering to return to anyway. There have been reports that the Brazilian’s admitted privately that it was a mistake to leave the Nou Camp in the first place. Whether for the money, the challenge, or stepping out of Lionel Messi’s shadow to put himself into Ballon d’Or contention, the move to Paris hasn’t given him the satisfaction he thought it would.
Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu claimed that while Neymar wanted to leave, a transfer was a pointless discussion because PSG didn’t want to sell. However, the Parc des Princes outfit’s sporting director, Leonardo, has now said this week that the player is available if the right offer comes in.
That means we’re now left with two burning questions. One, how much is that offer, and do PSG want to make a profit on Neymar? And two, can Barcelona afford the asking price, or do they need to offer players in exchange, such as their two biggest signings, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele?
If you think Ernesto Valverde’s side will get their man, you can get evens on Neymar rejoining Barcelona this summer. On the other hand, he’s 7/5 to stay put at PSG, even if that’s looking increasingly unlikely with recent developments.