Today’s edition of L’Équipe revealed that Barcelona star Neymar was PSG’s number one target to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the recent summer transfer window.
Although the absolute dream of PSG owner Tamin al-Thani is to sign another one of Barcelona’s gems, Lionel Messi, it was impossible to achieve. Despite meetings between PSG President Nasser Al Khelaifi and Lionel Messi’s father, Messi had no intention of leaving a club that he considers to be the best in the world.
Another star that PSG had been touted to be considering was Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo. Photos were taken of Sporting Director Létang, Nasser Al Khelaifi and super-agent Jorge Mendes in deep discussion in Madrid ahead of Les Parisiens’ clash with PSG in the Champions League in November 2015, however it is not believed that these discussions had anything to do with the Portuguese EURO 2016 winner.
Two years earlier, PSG had a greater chance of signing Ronaldo, but these hopes have faded.
Of all the megastars, all that was left was Neymar. PSG first opened talks over the phone with the player’s agent Wagner Ribeiro. In those initial discussions, Ribeiro is assured that Neymar would receive the same treatment as Zlatan Ibrahimovic: the team would play for him.
Another argument that was made was that if Barcelona won the Champions League, Lionel Messi would win the Ballon D’Or. If PSG won the Champions League with Neymar playing for them, he would have an opportunity to win the Ballon D’Or and finally step out from Messi’s shadow.
A face to face meeting in April occurred in Sao Paulo between Wagner Ribeiro, PSG Sporting Director Olivier Létang and Neymar’s father.
That meeting went on for hours, discussing particularly the specifics of Neymar’s contract with Barcelona. That it was running out in 2018, and that he had a release clause worth €192m.
After that meeting, the agent made it clear that he judged things to have gone well, and that a transfer was possible. The father of Neymar believed in the PSG project, and he also believed that PSG could meet Neymar’s financial demands. Especially after the Brazilian international was handed a €45m tax evasion fine by the Brazilian government.
The next meeting occurred in Ibiza at the beginning of the summer, between PSG President Nasser Al Khelaifi, Olivier Létang and Neymar’s entire clan.
During this meeting, the different parties got into the nitty-gritty of negotiations for the first time. Al Khelaifi reiterated during that meeting that PSG would pay Neymar’s release clause no problem.
In an interview with Neymar’s agent Walter Ribeiro to ESPN in September, he had thew following to say:
“Neymar was very close to joining PSG. He could have earned €40m a year.”
L’Équipe moved to deny this claim this morning, saying that PSG were particularly unprepared to pay the enormous salary that was being pushed by Neymar’s father. However, PSG were willing to offer Neymar a series of incredible bonuses, including a donation to Neymar’s hotel project.
In the end, even PSG player Lucas Moura attempted to convince Neymar over text to join, but it simply was not going to happen. Neymar’s extension with Barcelona has been penned until 2021.