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Real Madrid defender Marcelo said on Sunday that he believes Neymar will play for the club one day, amid speculation the Brazilian could leave Paris Saint-Germain and move to the Santiago Bernabeu.
“I think Neymar will play for Real Madrid one day. Would Neymar fit at Real Madrid? He would fit, for sure. It would be great if he came to Real Madrid. In my opinion the great players have to play at this club,” Marcelo told Esporte Interativo (h/t Marca‘s Virtudes Sanchez).
Neymar left Real Madrid’s rivals Barcelona in the summer to join PSG and has been a huge hit at the French capital. The Brazilian has 19 goals and 11 assists in 18 Ligue 1 starts to help his side top the table.
Opta compared his form to his time at Barcelona:
30 – Neymar is involved in 30 goals after only 18 Ligue 1 games played – he reached this milestone on his 37th Liga game with Barcelona. Tornado. https://t.co/EEbl121TTr
However, there have been problems for Neymar as he has clashed with team-mate Edinson Cavani and was booed by his own supporters after refusing to allow the Uruguayan to take a penalty in January. Had Cavani scored the spot-kick, he would have become the club’s record goalscorer, per Metro‘s Coral Barry.
PSG midfielder Adrien Rabiot has said that Neymar “receives certain privileges” but added that he is not jealous of his team-mate, per Marca.
Neymar is paid substantially more than any PSG player, according to L’Equipe (via Get French Football News):
Get French Football @GFFN
Highest-paid players in Ligue 1 per month, pre-tax, per L’Équipe:
1 | Neymar (PSG) – €3.067m
2 | Edinson Cavani (PSG) – €1.54m
3 | Kylian Mbappé (PSG) – €1.5m
4 | Thiago Silva (PSG) – €1.33m
5 | Angel di Maria & Marquinhos (PSG) – €1.12m
7 | Thiago Motta (PSG) – €875k
However, Neymar’s relationship with his team-mates does appear to have improved, and he may have learned from Cavani, according to ESPN FC’s Jonathan Johnson:
Jonathan Johnson @Jon_LeGossip
People can say what they like but IMO Neymar has learned a bit from Edinson Cavani over the past few weeks. The Brazilian superstar seems to recognise the occasional importance of the collective over the individual better now. Great news & maybe the biggest win today. #PSGMHSC
Meanwhile, Real Madrid want to sign Neymar and are willing to spend big to land him in the summer, according to Marca‘s Carlos Carpio.
However, PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi is adamant that Neymar will not leave the club. Per Canal+ (h/t Football Espana), he said: “There’s no chance of him leaving at the end of this season, not 100 per cent, not even 2,000 per cent.”
Neymar is set to face Real Madrid with PSG in the 2018 UEFA Champions League last 16, with the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday. There will be huge pressure on Neymar to deliver against the European Cup holders, as his prime reason for leaving Barcelona appeared to be his desire to step out of Lionel Messi’s shadow and lead his own team to glory.
The outcome of the match between the two sides may have ramifications for Neymar’s future. The Champions League represents Real Madrid’s only remaining realistic hope of silverware this season. If they were knocked out, the defeat may intensify their efforts to spend big this summer, with Neymar seemingly already a top target.