When Dani Alves was presented to the media and fans as a Paris Saint-Germain player a few days ago, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the club’s chairman, offered this interesting observation: “Dani is the first great champion [to sign for PSG this summer] but the other ones are coming.”
Could the next great champion be Neymar?
In the last two days, the “Neymar to PSG saga” has started anew. Some reports in Brazilannounce the deal is done, which is not true.
A source close to PSG confirmed to ESPN FC tonight that nothing has been agreed but the door has re-opened. Last summer, PSG thought they had Neymar. The discussions between the Parisians and the player’s dad went really far but in the end, the Brazilian signed a new and improved deal with Barcelona.
This summer, Paris are not getting carried away. There is still a long way to go before seeing Neymar at the Parc des Princes, but it’s true that the situation has evolved positively in favour of the club from the French capital.
Serious talks are poised to start very soon, said the same source.
At 25, Neymar doesn’t want to play second fiddle to Lionel Messi much longer. He feels that he deserves to be the big star somewhere where he will be the leader instead of being in the shadow of someone else, albeit someone as great as Messi. The Ballon d’Or, for example, would be easier to win in Paris than in Barcelona.
There are also some tensions between Barcelona and Neymar’s dad. Neymar Sr. is supposed to be a scout in Brazil for the Catalans but doesn’t feel his work over there is taken seriously. He is still livid that the transfer of Lucas Lima from Santos to Barca fell through a few days ago because the Spanish giant got cold feet at the last minute.
With money not being an issue for PSG, they could pay the €222 million release clause and be capable of offering Neymar an incredible €25 million per year. In the PSG dressing room, Neymar already has plenty of very close friends such as Dani Alves, Lucas Moura and Marquinhos as well as Maxwell, the former left-back who’s now the assistant sporting director.
Could Marco Verratti be included in the transaction? That’s possible as well. The Italian is non-transferable, but Paris might think about it if it helps in recruiting Neymar. TheSelecao talisman has always been a target and a dream for PSG’s Qatari owners. They even tried to recruit him before he joined Barcelona four years ago.
Signing him this year would be one of the transfers of the century and would take PSG into a whole new dimension. He would be the ideal heir to the Zlatan Ibrahimovic era. That’s what the owners want, but they can’t get carried away until Neymar’s signature is on the contract.
PSG know that once again, Neymar might well be using them to get yet another improved deal at the Camp Nou, but things seem to be different this time. Oddly enough, a few days ago PSG presented their away kit: a yellow shirt in tribute to all the great Brazilian players the club has signed through the years like Rai, Leonardo, Ronaldinho, Valdo and Thiago Silva, among others. They could be on the verge of signing the greatest of them all in Neymar.
It is a busy time for Paris. After having nicked Dani Alves from Manchester City, their only other signing thus far this summer is Spanish left-back Yuri Berchiche. But they are now back in contention to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal.
They need a profile like Sanchez’s, a world-class player capable of playing wide or as a centre forward. The Parisians know that it will be very hard to sign Kylian Mbappe from Monaco and are still far from a deal with Neymar, so Sanchez makes a lot of sense. The contacts between his agent and PSG were hot two months ago. They went cold last month but they are warming up again.
Things are much colder for Hatem Ben Arfa, though, to the point of freezing. The France international has not been included in the squad travelling to the United States for the International Champions Cup. Instead he is in Paris, training with the younger players. PSG are pushing him out, but he doesn’t want to leave.
“If they despise him, he will stay in Paris,” Ben Arfa’s advisor, Michel Ouazine, told Le Parisien yesterday. Suddenly the fairytale story of Ben Arfa, the born-and-bred Parisian, coming home is turning sour.
“HBA” still has a year left on his contract but will never play next season if he stays. Same for Grzegorz Krychowiak, who never settled with the club. Before selling though, PSG will focus on buying first.
All dreams, especially the Neymar one, are permitted.