In comments likely to cool rumours linking Neymar to Real Madrid, Zahavi—who acted as intermediary in the Brazilian’s £200 million move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain last summer—told Polish outlet Przeglad Sportowy the forward left the Blaugrana in the first place to step out of Messi’s shadow (via ESPN.co.uk):
“Neymar did what he had to. There are only three football superstars—Messi, Cristiano and Neymar. They can’t play in one club. At Barca, Ney always was the No. 2. He was the second to shoot from free-kicks, second to the penalties, second to everything. He came to Spain as a young boy. He grew up. Now he’s 26 and has eight or nine years at the top level. He needs independence.”
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Neymar has enjoyed a mixed first season with PSG.
His individual statistics are fairly remarkable—25 goals and 16 assists in a combined 27 Ligue 1 and UEFA Champions League appearances—and PSG are on track to regain the French title after losing out to Monaco last season.
However, they fell meekly to Real in the last 16 of the Champions League, and there have been ongoing rumours Neymar is unhappy at the Parc des Princes.
L’Equipe and Sport (via the Mirror‘s Aaron Flanagan) have reported Neymar regrets his transfer to Paris and is plotting a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.
As noted by Zahavi, though, it would be a strange move for Neymar to escape being Messi’s No. 2 only to join Real, where he would be in the shadow of Ronaldo.
The Portuguese superstar is now 33 but continues to return remarkable numbers—his record in 2018 is staggering, per Fox Sports:
FOX Sports @FOXSports
Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2018 (so far): Absolutely glorious. The FIFA World Cup is 63 days away on FOX! https://t.co/Bhu0oGXMG0
Eventually age is sure to catch up with Ronaldo, and it will then be vital for Real to replace him.
Neymar would be an obvious choice, and he may well end up at the Bernabeu in the future. But Zahavi’s latest comments suggest an imminent move to Los Blancos is unlikely.