Real Madrid want Neymar as part of ‘major renovation’ this summer but must sell top stars to fund world-record deal

Real are willing to sell off their top assets to fund the move as they plan an overhaul of their squad

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Thursday 25 January 2018 14:26 GMT
Neymar Jr says PSG move 'not motivated by money'

Real Madrid are planning a summer of “major renovation”, centred around top target Neymar, whose move is to be funded by high-profile sales set to have a big impact on the Premier League.

Bernabeu sources say there has been a realisation of the need to overhaul the top end of the squad, and an awareness that the time of the BBC - Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo - has come to an end.

While president Florentino Perez did not bring in a major star in the last two summers and wanted to rectify that this year anyway, he now feels Neymar could be the signing that solves a lot of issues. The Brazilian would be both the massive name the president craves, but also young enough to make sense as the player that represents a new era. There is also an unusual confidence around the Bernabeu that it can be pulled off, despite Paris Saint-Germain’s expected refusal.

The main issue beyond convincing the French club is that Real are just not as financially powerful in the modern market as they were a few years ago, and would likely need to raise around £500m for such a deal in terms of fee and wages.

The Independent understands that a number of top Premier League clubs have been told of the possibility that there could be good business to be done with Real, and potentially some big names available. It says much that Ronaldo, for the first time since arriving at the club in 2009, is not “unsellable”. While Manchester United do not now have interest in their old hero, they are, for example, monitoring the situations of Raphael Varane, Casemiro and - less likely given Luka Modric’s age - Toni Kroos.

Other potential targets for Real are Harry Kane and Eden Hazard, as well as one of the two goalkeepers Thibaut Courtois or David De Gea, but all would be willingly discarded if it meant signing Neymar.

Sources say that there is a genuine belief that it can be done, even though it raises the very pertinent question of why exactly PSG would sell.

The sensational 2017 signing of Neymar from Barcelona was seen as launching the French club into a new era, and it would greatly affect perceptions of that and their new clout if he went within a year. Beyond that, PSG’s extreme wealth means they have no urgent need to sell. President Nasser Al Khelaifi has already publicly stated that such a transfer would be “impossible”, and that has been privately re-asserted by sources close to the hierarchy.

That hasn’t affected Real’s confidence, and those who know Perez well point to his “excellent relationship” with Al Khelaifi. There is also the suggestion that Neymar has a clause that means he can go for €222m in the summer of 2019.

Neymar has not become the star attraction he expected to become at PSG (AFP/Getty Images)

Questions about the 25-year-old’s actual happiness at the Parc des Princes have never really gone away either. He is said to be disappointed he isn’t being looked upon as the main man his entourage expected him to be - either by fans or manager Unai Emery - and was more understandably put out at being jeered when taking a penalty against Dijon in a supreme performance and 8-0 win.

One reason he left Barcelona - beyond the money - was to step out of Lionel Messi’s shadow but that hasn’t quite happened in the manner expected. Real would offer that opportunity, and that platform.

Other sources who worked with Neymar at Barcelona have suggested that he and his entourage have “overestimated the strength of the French league”, and that he wants to return to a higher-profile competition. Ronaldo meanwhile going the other direction could yet be raised as an option.

Champions League progress could of course change all that, but that only further fires PSG’s last-16 clash: against Real Madrid.

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