Neymar will travel on an upcoming tour of China with Paris-Saint Germain, the club said Tuesday, as the troubled Brazilian superstar’s future remains up in the air amid mounting signs he is unhappy at the French champions.
The 27-year-old, who has been repeatedly linked to a move to Barcelona, failed to show up to PSG’s pre-season training on July 8, with his camp maintaining he had a prior agreement to stay away. The club threatened to take “appropriate action” against the world’s most expensive player, who said he had stayed in Brazil to attend a charity five-a-side football tournament run by his foundation.
Neymar who joined PSG in 2017 for 222 million euros ($264 million at the time) rejoined the team a week later on July 15. He also didn’t help the strained relationship by controversially saying that his best football memory was beating PSG when he played for Barcelona.
Just days before rejoining PSG, he cited as his favourite football memory his role in the 2017 Barcelona team that overturned a 4-0 first-leg deficit by winning 6-1 in the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie. He also recently posted a 10-second video of himself in a Barcelona shirt and a quote from the Bible: “No weapon turned against you will prosper.”
It has been a troubled summer for Neymar. He missed Brazil’s triumphant Copa America campaign on home soil due to an ankle injury and was also questioned by Brazilian police over allegations he raped a woman — accusations he denies.
PSG referenced the ankle injury in its statement naming the squad on Tuesday, saying that “daily physical work will continue and complete recovery and integration with the group is scheduled for training in China”. It added that x-rays of the fracture showed “completely normal progress and a very good improvement”.
PSG land in Shenzhen, China on Wednesday, and will play friendlies against Inter Milan in Macau on Saturday and Sydney FC in Suzhou on July 30. Their first competitive match of the season will be against Rennes in Shenzhen on August 3 in the Champions Trophy, the traditional curtain-raiser to the French campaign.
PSG also announced on Tuesday that 16-year-old Dutch midfielder Xavi Simons would join the club from Barcelona. (AFP)
Pix: Neymar with the ball on the field of play