July 9 – French champions Paris St-Germain have said they will take “appropriate action” after Brazil striker Neymar failed to turn up for the first day of pre-season training. The 27-year-old was due back at the club’s training ground on Monday, but remained in Brazil for a charity event.
On Sunday a ten-man Brazil won the Copa America for a ninth time, defeating Peru 3-1 at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium. Neymar sat out the tournament on the sidelines with injury and was seen, for better or for worse, to cosy up to Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who was jeered after the final.
The Brazilian was expected back in Paris on Monday at his club, but decided on a no-show. “Paris St-Germain notes that Neymar Jr was not in attendance at the agreed time and place. This was without the club’s prior authorisation,” read a statement. “The club regrets this situation.”
In the Brazilian media Neymar’s father, Neymar Sr, responded, saying that PSG “were aware” that the forward would miss the first training of the new season in Paris due to charity commitments.
“The reason was known and planned for a year as part of his activities for the Neymar Institute,” said Neymar senior in a reaction to Fox Sports Brazil. “We couldn’t postpone them and he will return [to PSG] on 15 July.”
But whatever excuse Neymar might have invoked his club have not been impressed and in an interview with La Parisien, PSG’s sporting director Leonardo said he had no qualms in saying that Neymar could well exit the French capital later this summer. “Neymar can leave PSG, if there is an offer that suits everyone,” said Leonardo.
“It’s clear to everyone (that he wants to leave), but in football, you say one thing today and tomorrow another … It’s amazing but it’s like that. We talked with his entourage too. Everyone knows everything.
“The position is clear for all participants. But one thing is concrete today: he still has three years of contract with us and since we have not received an offer, we cannot discuss anything.”
“We have not received any offers. But we have had, it’s true, very superficial contacts (with Barcelona). They said they wanted to buy but we were not sellers.
Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu said last week that Neymar wanted to return to Spain but that PSG were reluctant to sell him. According to reports in the Spanish media, Neymar has even offered to take a pay cut to facilitate a return to the Nou Camp, where he played between 2013 and 2017.
“He’s (Bartomeu) the one saying it… But we did not see that Barcelona was really in a buyer position,” said Leonardo.
“But to date, we do not know if anyone wants to buy in or at what price,” said Leonardo. “PSG wants to rely on players who want to stay and build something big.”
Speculation has been rife that Neymar will return to Catalonia. In 2017 Neymar joined PSG from Barcelona for a world record fee of €222 million (£200 million). The Brazilian has had a mixed time in Paris, scoring 34 goals in 37 league games to help win PSG another Ligue 1 title, but he failed to get PSG a deeper run in the Champions League and has been the subject of disciplinary issues.
“Neymar can leave PSG if there is an offer that suits everyone. But to date, we do not know if anyone wants to buy him or at what price. All this is not done in a day, that’s for sure,” Leonardo told Le Parisien.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1571340576labto1571340576ofdlr1571340576owedi1571340576sni@o1571340576fni1571340576