Any Real Madrid supporters expecting to read about the club’s failure to sign Paul Pogba on Friday would have been disappointed.
Instead the Madrid sports papers were full of stories about the club signing Neymar. Was it a distraction tactic? Or are they really planning on gazumping Barcelona (if you can gazump someone who hasn’t actually made a bid yet).
The plot thickened, however, on Saturday when Neymar was left out of the PSG squad for their opening Ligue 1 fixture against Nimes.
Sportsmail looks at the five obstacles that stand between Neymar and a sensational move to Real Madrid.
Neymar trains with Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday – but will he finish the summer in Madrid?
Do they have the money?
Neymar earns around 35m euros (£33m) after tax in France. That means, with Madrid picking up his tax bill at 43 per cent in Spain, he would cost the club almost 70m euros (£66m) a season in gross wages. They do not have the money right now. They would also have to pay Paris Saint-Germain a transfer fee.
Much has been made of how the two clubs have a good relationship, and it’s true that they certainly get along better than PSG and Barcelona, but Neymar will still not be gift-wrapped and flown in on a Qatar Investment Authority private jet.
The Paris Saint-Germain star would cost the club almost £66m-per-season in gross wages
Madrid will have to pay the same 180m euros (£169m) the club are demanding from Barcelona.
Could that be reduced with players included in the deal? Possibly, but PSG are more interested in midfielders and goalkeepers than forwards so the idea of Gareth Bale or James Rodriguez plus some spare change being enough are wide of the mark.
Keylor Navas is dispensable for Madrid and would also interest the French club. It would still be a huge investment from Madrid who could not find the money to make a serious bid for Pogba.
The Neymar transfer saga looks set to dominate the headline for the remainder of the window
The Barcelona past – would he celebrate a goal against them?
Neymar has spent most of the summer fluttering his eyelashes at Barcelona – even saying his finest moment was the match in 2017 when he led Barca’s incredible comeback against his current club, PSG.
He has a tattoo of the Champions League he won with Barcelona in 2015. He has never hidden his friendship with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique.
Would he celebrate a goal against Barcelona in a Clasico? Both Ronaldo and Luis Figo went from one club to the other – Figo most famously moved directly.
Madrid supporters will have seen Neymar’s social media post of himself and Zidane but they will always question where his true loyalties lie. How long before he admits he only moved to Real Madrid because Barcelona didn’t move for him?
The Brazil international shone for Barcelona during the years of 2013-2017, scoring 105 goals
It’s a move that might excite some of Real Madrid’s global fan base. But it’s unlikely to go down very well with the hardcore local support.
Diario AS were running a poll on their website on Friday asking if supporters wanted the club to sign Neymar. After 90,000 replies the ‘no’ vote was running at 59 per cent. Some of the comments under the poll summed up the majority’s mood.
‘DiverNey the further away from Vinicius, Rodrigo and the rest of the young players the better,’ said one.
‘He’s a spoilt kid. If you sign him Florentino you’ll be making a mistake and losing a season-ticket holder,’ said another.
AS reported on Saturday that PSG would prefer to sell him to Real Madrid over Barcelona
Effect on the rest of the squad
Neymar’s favoured position is left attack, currently ear-marked for Eden Hazard whenever Real Madrid play 4-3-3. The Brazilian’s arrival would see someone playing away from their favoured position.
Potentially more damaging would be the effect of his wages on group morale. If he moves on his PSG money he will be earning double what anyone else at the club picks up – the very salary that Cristiano Ronaldo believed he was worth.
He left because Real Madrid refused to pay him. Will they now pay it to Neymar?
Neymar’s arrival would potentially mean that Eden Hazard would have to play out of position
The Madrid coach asked for Pogba – a box-to-box midfielder, a confidant who would speak his language.
Instead he would be getting a forward whose injury problems in the last two years have caused concern in both club and country camps. Neymar broke his fifth metatarsal in his first season in France and again in his second campaign.
With the second injury he opted not to have surgery and was out for over three months. Zidane would console himself with the goals guarantee that Neymar brings when fit but there would be no disguising the signing being absolutely not what he asked for.
Real coach Zinedine Zidane asked for the club to sign Paul Pogba rather than Neymar
Madrid want to sign Kylian Mbappe in one or two years. If they do, there is no doubt the deal will set a new world transfer record and they will have to pay him a record wage. If Neymar signs on a long lucrative deal, finding the money to land Mbappe too would be far more difficult.
The Spanish giants want to sign France international Kylian Mbappe in one or two years