Real Madrid, who are remaining in regular contract with the player, believe they’re in a stronger position to sign him than Barcelona or Juventus.
The Neymar saga currently finds itself in a phase of nervous calm. Following Paris Saint-Germain’s rejection of two Barcelona bids, the three clubs eyeing the Brazilian – Barça, Juventus and Real Madrid – are readying themselves for the next stage in the battle for his signature.
As things stand, Madrid feel they are in a position of far greater comfort than Barça, with Bernabéu chiefs confident that a strategy of patience will be their best route towards a deal for the forward. It is Barça who are under the most pressure to sign Neymar, with sources close to the Blaugrana’s talks with PSG revealing that club captain Lionel Messi is calling the star on a daily basis to ensure his desire to return to the Camp Nou does not waver.
However, Madrid are pretty sure Barça don’t have the funds to make the kind of offer that will meet the demands of a club who paid a world-record 222m euros to buy Neymar from the Catalans in 2017. For that reason, their preference is to let the situation continue to play out, and only take urgent action if Barça get genuinely close to agreeing a deal for the 27-year-old
Otherwise, they’ll let the clock run down until the very final stages of the transfer window, safe in the knowledge that this will strengthen their hand in talks with PSG, who are eager to sell Neymar and would be left in a race against time to get a deal done. In the meantime, the Brazilian intermediary Juni Calafat, a friend of Neymar’s family, is keeping in regular contact with the footballer’s father on Madrid’s behalf.
Although Neymar would rather go to Barcelona, his chief aim is to leave PSG. If a return to Catalonia isn’t possible, he’ll readily move to the Spanish capital.
A major reason why Madrid are in far less of a hurry to sign Neymar is because his recruitment is not a long-term strategic priority; purchasing his PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappé is, on the other hand, and would be less likely to happen if the Brazil international joined this summer.
Mbappé’s contract runs out in 2022, and Madrid believe the moment to go after his signing is this time next year. Their hope is that he doesn’t renew this season, leaving PSG with no option but to negotiate his sale – or risk going into summer 2021 with the striker about to head into the final 12 months of his deal. That is exactly the situation that enabled Madrid to lure Eden Hazard from Chelsea for a fee below the Belgian’s true market value.
Signing Neymar now would complicate Madrid’s Mbappé strategy; however, if the Brazilian ends up being available to Los Merengues at a reasonable price, they’ll act. A bird in the hand…
Juventus have Dybala ace card…
Meanwhile, and despite one source venturing that Neymar “looks most likely to end up staying put”, the possibility of Juve securing his services can’t be ruled out. They have held talks with PSG sporting director Leonardo in recent days, and have an ace card up their sleeve in the form of Paulo Dybala, who Paris coach Thomas Tuchel would like as Neymar’s replacement. The Serie A club’s cause is also helped by a new Italian tax law that would allow the Brazilian to keep hold of a greater percentage of his earnings.