Barcelona? Man Utd? Five potential clubs Neymar could join

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FT Desk
  • FT Desk
  • 25 May 2022 11:43 CEST
  • 6 min read
FT Desk
25 May 2022 11:43 CEST
6 min read
Neymar, PSG, 2021/22

Kylian Mbappe has re-signed with Paris Saint-Germain on a bumper contract, and Neymar could be on his way out as the Ligue 1 champions look to balance their books. Where could the Brazilian end up?

Neymar was once the crown jewel at PSG, the capital club breaking the world transfer record when they acquired him from Barcelona for € 222 million in 2017. With 100 goals and 60 assists in 144 games in all competitions since, he remains a premium player.

But Mbappe is seven years Neymar’s junior and has just been handed a massive deal by PSG to ward off interest from Real Madrid. The team will be built around him, and Neymar could make way for playing and financial reasons.

Not many clubs could afford the winger, who until this week was the best-paid player at PSG after Lionel Messi. FootballTransfers looks at the likeliest destinations.

1) Real Madrid

Who better to go for after missing out on Mbappe? Real thought Mbappe was a done deal, and the fact La Liga wanted to report PSG to UEFA and even the EU for a “scandalous” arrangement with Mbappe hints at how sore Spanish football was to miss out on perhaps the brightest young star in world football .

After a generation of having Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi strut their stuff on either side of the Clasico divide, La Liga’s claim to having the world’s best players has waned of late, but until Mbappe’s emergence, Neymar was generally regarded as belonging on the podium with that illustrious pair.

His preferred position may be on the left of a three-man attack where Vinicius Jr. has emerged as a world-class talent in his own right, but Neymar and Vinicius could swap flanks either side of Karim Benzema on the fly, leaving opposition defences bamboozled. And if Real could have afforded Mbappe, they certainly have the budget for Neymar.

2) Newcastle

Now the richest club in football after Mike Ashley sold the club for £ 300m (€ 352m) to a consortium led by the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund in October, Newcastle certainly have the financial muscle to make a move for Neymar, with PSG reportedly wanting to recoup around € 90m on the Brazilian.

Eddie Howe led the Magpies to a great escape after taking the reins a month after the Saudis came in, lifting them from the relegation places to 11th come the end of the season. Big money moves for the likes of Bruno Guimaraes and Kieran Trippier helped – although the latter did get injured – but they will have designs on challenging for Europe next term.

Neymar could be the sort of signing that moves the needle. When the big money arrived at Manchester City in 2008, the biggest players did not follow straight away. It took Robinho’s arrival from Real on transfer deadline day for the floodgates to then open in personnel terms. Fourteen years on, could another Brazilian wing wizard start something similar up the road?

3) Man Utd

Of course, Manchester United remain one of the richest brands in world football, able to spend € 105m on Paul Pogba and £ 80m (€ 93.9m) on Harry Maguire in recent seasons, and they could be set for another summer spending spree with Erik ten Hag set to take the reins from Ralf Ragnick at Old Trafford.

Another potential factor in such a move revolves around Cristiano Ronaldo’s future. The Portuguese said himself that he did not join Man Utd “to compete for sixth or seventh”, which is exactly what the Red Devils ended up doing.

PSG are one of the few clubs in the world who might afford Ronaldo’s around € 500,000 per week salary, and Neymar could be the perfect player to send in the opposite direction as Paris look to gain a superstar as well as some income from parting ways with Ney.

4) Chelsea

With Todd Boehly £ 4.25bn bid approved by the UK government, Chelsea look likely to be under new ownership in time for the summer transfer window. Reassuringly for Blues fans, the American – already part-owner of the LA Dodgers and LA Lakers – has pockets almost as deep as Roman Abramovich’s.

Chelsea will be looking for a statement signing to kick off their new era, and Neymar could be the very man. He might fancy London more than Newcastle or Manchester, and on the field he would offer some welcome experience alongside the likes of Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic.

He would also have an old friend in the dressing room, with Thiago Silva and Neymar having spent three years together at PSG as well as the last 12 in the Brazil national team.

5) Barcelona

Last in this list are Barcelona, ​​who despite the recent financial dire straits which saw them lose Messi to PSG last summer were still able to leverage enough capital to sign Ferran Torres from Manchester City for € 55m, with a reported € 32m bid lodged for Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.

Neymar left Barcelona acrimoniously in 2017, the club never imagined that his release clause would be met by PSG, but he did so as a player who had collected eight major honors, including the 2015 UEFA Champions League, notching 105 goals and 76 assists in 186 games in the process.

Barca president Joan Laporta says any return would have to be on a free transfer. PSG may not countenance that, although it would alleviate their wage bill, while it could also be a ploy by Laoprta to drive his price down, given the transfer budget afforded to the above.

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