Reports: Real Madrid to sign former Barcelona superstar to replace Cristiano Ronaldo
What's the story?
In perhaps the most stunning rumour to come out this year, Real Madrid are eyeing Neymar Jr. to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, according to a report in British newspaper Daily Express and in Spanish outlet AS. Neymar is reportedly unhappy with life in France and regrets his move, and would like to move back to Spain. Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo feels disrespected by Real Madrid due to rumours of attempts to sign Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, and seeks a move back to Manchester United, thus avoiding his tax problems as well.
In case you didn't know...
Neymar became the world's most expensive player after PSG triggered his €222 million release clause and signed him from Barcelona this summer. An on-field bust-up with Edinson Cavani and rumours of him receiving preferential treatment making the rounds in the French press has meant that the Brazilian forward has struggled to adapt to life in France. Cristiano Ronaldo signed a new contract with Real Madrid last year, but reportedly has his heart set on a departure from Los Blancos.
The heart of the matter
Real Madrid are increasingly confident of bringing Neymar back to La Liga, and they have sounded out Wagner Ribeiro and Neymar Sr. over a deal. Sergio Ramos and Casemiro have already spoken to the press about welcoming Neymar at the club, noting that his links to Barcelona would not be of any concern.
Given that the Brazilian forward's dream club as a child was Real Madrid and that his childhood idol was Zinedine Zidane, things might be heavily in favour of Real Madrid pushing the move through. PSG, however, would like a world record fee, as Neymar is seen as their only chance of ever winning the UEFA Champions League.
The move for Neymar and the failed move for Kylian Mbappe in the summer has left Cristiano Ronaldo frustrated. According to AS, the Portuguese forward views Madrid's attempts to sign these players as proof that the club no longer considers him the best. Florentino Perez has reportedly offered Ronaldo a wage increase, but the forward has shot it down, noting earlier this season, "I don't want to renew, I'm happy as I am". His current deal is till 2021, with a €1 billion buyout clause, but with his numbers rapidly declining, Madrid would be fine in cashing out.
1 year ago, when rumours of Neymar moving to Paris St-Germain first broke, most people laughed it off as resoundingly absurd. Nothing is impossible in modern football, and the money on offer might mean that we might actually see this deal come off. That Real Madrid stars are already welcoming Neymar might mean that this move could actually come through.