Neymar: Why did he choose to remain at Paris Saint-Germain?
By Bryan Swanson, Chief Reporter
Last Updated: 03/09/19 12:02pm
Sky Sports News’ chief reporter Bryan Swanson has the inside story on why Neymar has remained at Paris Saint-Germain at the end of an extraordinary summer transfer window.
Why is Neymar still at PSG?
As one source put it: "There was a buyer that couldn't buy and a seller that didn't really want to sell."
PSG set a high valuation and refused to lower their asking price. The club ignored the noise and personal pleas. It came down to hard business.
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They paid a world-record €222m (£200m) for him in August 2017 and publicly stated that he could leave "if an offer suits". It didn't.
"Still cheap for a player of his standard," said someone close to him. PSG were prepared to accept cash plus players, but it was too ambitious to get a complex deal over the line.
Did Neymar want to re-join Barcelona?
Yes, in an unprecedented development, he was prepared to pay £18m of his own money to PSG to facilitate a move.
Sky Sports News understands an offer was made, in writing, from Neymar to PSG general manager Jean-Claude Blanc on August 30.
Neymar offered to pay €20m in five instalments but it was dismissed by PSG because of French football federation regulations. It was too little, too late.
Neymar told family he was staying and the Brazilian boarded a flight to Miami on Sunday, September 1, to join his international team-mates.
He posted a photo on his Instagram story with Gabriel from a restaurant on Miami Beach. His 125 million followers were left in no doubt that he would return to France.
Why did he want to leave PSG?
A number of reasons. We are told Neymar felt some referees never protected him, some dressing room team-mates were jealous of him and some fans never appreciated his talent since joining PSG.
He also felt some sections of the French media were against him.
It is claimed PSG head coach Thomas Tuchel wanted him to play in their opening Ligue 1 game against Nimes on August 11 .
Neymar was ready to play but did not agree to make a statement that he was staying. He did not play.
Surely Barcelona could have made it work?
No, not in a way that suited PSG. Financially, they spent big early in the window on Antoine Griezmann. They had to be creative.
They were prepared to offer a loan with an obligation to buy. But they struggled with the player part of the exchange.
When Philippe Coutinho joined Bayern Munich, one source said: "If Barcelona still want Neymar, they need a new approach."
Ousmane Dembele was a preference but he made it clear he did not want to leave the Nou Camp. Put simply, Barcelona ran out of options. Lionel Messi was keen to see Neymar back. He thought a deal could happen. It could not.
It was an uphill struggle, despite positive noises to emerge during a meeting between the clubs in Paris on August 27.
According to PSG sporting director Leonardo, Barcelona's only written offer came during those face-to-face talks. It was not enough and PSG refused.
There were reports of an agreement between clubs on August 29, denied by multiple sources.
Did Real Madrid stand a chance?
Yes, we are told they were interested and remained in talks until close to the end of the window.
They could not reach an agreement with PSG and, in the inevitable fallout, may well say they never really showed serious interest.
In the world of football politics, especially in La Liga, saving face is important.
Is this no-deal a surprise?
Yes and no. Neymar, his father and his closest representatives held a meeting on Saturday, August 31, and decided it was a waste of time to hold out hope of a move.
They conceded he would stay in Paris. It was agreed that he needed to concentrate fully on football, and speculation was damaging his reputation.
Barcelona and Real Madrid were informed that he had agreed to stay. Sky Sports News reported it just after 8pm that night.
In an era of player power, this is a reminder that the club that holds the player contract can still flex the most important muscle.
Is Neymar happy to stay?
As someone close to him said: "He is totally committed to Paris Saint-Germain. He will always give 100 per cent. He loves football, he is a winner and he will do all he can to help to win titles.
"It's normal to sometimes feel to want to go somewhere. In his heart, in his soul, he remains a PSG player. He will show it on the pitch."
His relationship with PSG has improved since a disputed return to pre-season training in July. When he travels back from international action with Brazil, he intends to fulfil his contractual club commitments.
How will he be received by PSG fans?
It will be tough. Some sections of supporters are furious with how this has played out. He has bridges to build. It will come down to how he performs on the pitch.
He is suspended for PSG's first three Champions League games after criticising UEFA on Instagram, following their defeat to Manchester United last season.
But if he delivers in their second games against Real Madrid, Galatasaray and Club Brugge, and enjoys domestic success, he may well be forgiven by PSG's most hostile fans. Time will tell.