Neymar’s father and the head of Paris Saint-Germain both poured cold water Tuesday over rumors that the world’s most expensive footballer wants to quit the French club after returning from injury.
“Neymar already has a future at PSG, Neymar already has a present at PSG,” Neymar Santos Sr told journalists at his son’s charity center, the Neymar Junior Institute, in Praia Grande, Sao Paulo state.
With the superstar striker out for weeks while he recuperates from foot surgery, reports have emerged in the European media that Neymar is disenchanted with PSG and wants to return to his old club Barcelona — or even make a shock move to arch rivals Real Madrid.
Without the injured Neymar, PSG went crashing out of the Champions League to Real Madrid in the last 16 this month.
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, his sports director Antero Henrique and club spokesman Jean-Martial Ribes visited the 26-year-old at his luxury house near Brazil’s coast on Monday and his charity institute on Tuesday.
Their trip had been planned far in advance of the current uproar, Ribes told AFP. However the meeting, which Neymar Sr recorded with photos on his Instagram feed, couldn’t help having something of the look of a crisis summit.
Emerging in front of reporters at the institute, both sides seemed keen to quash the speculation.
Neymar “is happy, highly motivated and excited to come back as soon as possible,” Al-Khelaifi said.
However, journalists were told that they could not ask about the Real Madrid rumors.
– Question of timing –
Neymar fractured a bone in his right foot on February 25 and faces a lengthy lay-up following surgery in early March.
Brazilian team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar has said that Neymar — transferred to PSG from Barcelona after the French club paid his 222 million-euro ($264 million) buyout clause last August — will need at least two and a half months, maybe three, to return to action.
PSG still hopes to get him back before the end of its season.
“Everybody is doing his best to come back as soon as possible, without any risk for sure,” Al-Khelaifi said.
“But the doctors are going to say. I’m not in a position to say exactly when he will come back. The doctors are following and it depends on recovery, but I think he’s in good shape,” the club president said.
Brazil’s national team are hoping he will be back to full fitness in time to help lead them at the World Cup starting in Russia on June 14. Experts say that while Neymar will be short of match practice, he could benefit by arriving at the tournament fresher than his rivals.