Neymar’s flirted with Barcelona and Real Madrid but now risks ending up being wanted by NO-ONE



When Neymar said in an interview last month that his greatest football memory was beating Paris Saint-Germain at the Nou Camp while he was still a Barcelona player, it might have gone some way to wooing Barca fans still not convinced over his signing.

When, last Friday, he posted a picture of himself with Zinedine Zidane on social media just as Madrid were rumoured to have stepped up their pursuit, the picture might have helped him curry some favour with the Madridistas.

But the trouble with flirting with everyone is the risk of ending up being wanted by no-one.

We are still some way from that. There are still three weeks of the transfer window left in which Neymar can land the third lucrative signing of his career and judging from the rapid disappearance of images from the PSG club shop, he still looks more out than in at PSG.

But he has played a dangerous game this summer and the various fan polls at Madrid and Barcelona have been a constant reminder that neither club has a following totally committed to his signing.

Real Madrid and Barcelona are still to put their cards on the table. PSG briefed that they suspected Barca might be bluffing earlier this summer – just stringing Neymar and themselves along with no real intention of signing the player but happy to wreck the pre-season of a club they have a wretched relationship with.

Real Madrid were accused of bluffing at the end of last week when they stepped up interest in Neymar just as they failed to sign Paul Pogba. Were they diverting attention from that failure?

Madrid could still move for Neymar but it will not be easy.

PSG have no plans to sell him on the cheap, despite cordial relations between the two clubs.

Real Madrid would take Neymar on loan but have ruled out that possibility, because, according to Diario AS who have consulted sources at the Spanish club, it could cost as much as £42million plus the player’s £65m gross wage.

A one-year loan deal with an obligatory buy at the end of the season is a more viable option but it would still only be possible if players are sold and it would rule out any move from them for Kylian Mbappe next year.

Players could be involved but so far PSG have been cold on the ones that would be available: forwards Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez, and keen on those not up for grabs such as Casemiro and Luka Modric.

Barcelona have plenty of reasons to abandon their pursuit of Neymar. The current form of their forwards in the United States has been spectacular. With Lionel Messi still not fit to start the season Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele have done more than enough to demonstrate the huge quality in depth.

They have so far insisted on any deal being a player exchange-only transaction. PSG it seems would take Philippe Coutinho, who would be prepared to leave Barcelona.

But they want cash rather than a second player, and it’s cash that Barcelona don’t appear to have.

With their own supporters against him and two clubs seemingly prepared to take him, it does appear PSG have stepped back from their earlier summer position of wanting to recoup all of the £198m they paid Barcelona for the player in 2017.

But how far are they willing to cut their losses. And if they are not willing to go far enough what happens to Neymar?

He loves a hand of poker – this is turning into the high stakes game of his career.