Neymar’s PSG honeymoon has not gone to plan… now he may have priced himself out of a move back to Spain with Barcelona AND Real Madrid both looking to sign him
- Plan when he joined PSG was clear and ended with him moving to Real Madrid
- His time in Paris has not gone to plan and his future may also not be as pictured
- Florentino Perez still views Neymar as the man to turn Real’s fortunes around
- He could make a stunning return to Barcelona if Real do not move for him
Pete Jenson for MailOnline
The plan for Neymar when he left Barcelona in 2017 was always very clear – win the Champions League and Ballon d’Or in Paris and then make one more eye-watering, record breaking transfer, probably to Real Madrid.
On Wednesday night he scored but could not stop his team tumbling out of the French League Cup and just a few weeks earlier when the Golden Ball was handed to Modric he was nowhere near the favourites for the award.
Things have not gone to plan in terms of what he wanted to win. And things are not going to plan in terms of what he wants to do next.
Neymar’s time at Paris Saint-Germain has not gone to plan compared to what was expected
His career has not been perfect since he made the decision to swap Barcelona for PSG
Florentino Perez remains convinced that Neymar is the player to boost Real Madrid’s flagging fortunes. Despite winning the last three Champions League’s Madrid have stopped exciting people.
Their own supporters have become bored – on Wednesday in the Copa del Rey, there were 40,000 empty seats. There were 31,000 at the weekend in the league.
Neymar would make them sexy again, he would boost them commercially and increase their chances of finding that elusive stadium sponsor – such a great idea in theory but so hard to make work in practice as Tottenham and Barcelona have also found out.
But Perez is isolated in his faith in Neymar. He does not have the masses behind him. They see Neymar as an expensive gamble, unreliable and someone who let Barcelona down and could do the same to Real Madrid
Florentino Perez remains convinced that Neymar is the player to boost Real Madrid’s fortun
They have struggled on the pitch this season and currently find themselves fifth in La Liga
Spirits are so low at the Bernabeu that the public mood may swing but Perez, would be hard pushed to spend £200million on Neymar without universal support.
Madrid wanted Neymar last summer but the Brazilian’s camp felt it was too soon to walk away from PSG and foolish to arrive in the Spanish capital just as Ronaldo was leaving.
The comparisons would have been non-stop and unbearable. Had he won the World Cup with Brazil in Russia he could have arrived to fanfares. But he bowed tamely out of that tournament and decided to stay put.
Madrid were not overly worried because they believe his contract stipulates that his price comes down every summer and in July 2019 he can be bought for the same money Barcelona sold him to PSG for two years before.
Neymar scored against Guingamp on Wednesday night but was unable to stop them losing
If they don’t move for Neymar, 27 next month, then he would be free to make an extraordinary return to Barcelona but at La Liga’s other big club there are also as many doubters as there are believers.
Andres Iniesta said this week: ‘I find it hard to visualize him back at Barca. I think it would be difficult for him to come back but we have seen so many [strange] things in football.’
Iniesta represents the old Barca guard. Players who gave their entire careers to the club. It probably would not sit easy with Xavi either that someone who chose to walk away – leaving Barcelona in the lurch when he did – made a big money return.
But for Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique, Neymar’s return would be welcomed. Their friendship has been unaffected by his departure.
If Madrid do not move for Neymar, he could yet make a sensational return to Barcelona
Andre Cury, Barcelona’s chief scout in Brazil, would also be in favour. He brought the player to the club the first time around and – like the players with Neymar Jnr – his relationship with Neymar’s father has not been affected by the move to PSG.
Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu has a foot in both camps. He knows the deal could be of commercial benefit but the club is currently trying to regenerate with a host of top young signings.
The Ajax pair Frenkie De Jong and Matthijs de Ligt are the marquee signings around which that project will be built. Barcelona cannot afford to sign the Dutch pair and Neymar.
Neymar might need to begin throwing glances at Premier League sides if he wants to leave
If the way back to Spain is blocked then Neymar might need to begin throwing glances the Premier League’s way.
For years the Brazil No 10 has beyond the financial reach of every club in England.
But if he terminates the marriage to PSG this summer and neither Barcelona nor Real Madrid can make his return to La Liga a reality then the way would be clear for a Premier League suitor.
He will have plenty of time to say some nice things about one of those clubs – Manchester United – when he meets them next month in the Champions League.