Neymar: why PSG star wants to leave France, Real Madrid alert

Neymar is Real Madrid’s main target for the summer transfer window and the PSG forward is favourable to the move following a meeting in Paris between Madrid representatives and the player’s father a few weeks ago. Neymar – who joined PSG from Barcelona for a world-record €222 million fee last summer – is fed up of Ligue 1.

Neymar fouled more in Ligue 1 than LaLiga

Brazilian publication UOL Esporte reported on Friday that five months in Paris “have felt like five years” for Neymar, who has various grievances with football in France. The 26-year-old has told friends of his discontent towards the violence of rivals players, permissive refereeing, the poor state of opposition pitches, and the fact that PSG players stay in hotels before matches.

According to UOL, Neymar is unhappy with the rough treatment he receives from opposition players. He has suffered an average of 5.2 fouls per match in Ligue 1 (104 in 20 matches), a figure significantly higher than the 3.5 fouls per match committed against him across his four seasons in LaLiga (431 in 123 matches).

Neymar has complained about this on various occasions, notably during a match against Rennes. Neymar gestured that he was going to help Rennes player Hamari Traoré up off the floor, but then withdrew his hand and grinned at the last moment. He defended his action with the following statement: “They kick and I play football. They provoke, but I also know how to provoke in my own way, with the ball. I’m not used to kicking players, I don’t know how to do it. I defend myself with the ball. I know they’re going to say that I can be a good player, but I provoke too much. I know that’s what they’ll say, but they should look at what they do themselves.”

Read what PSG coach Unai Emery had to say about 'Neymar to Madrid' rumours.

Poor pitches and time on the bus

Linked to this issue, is Neymar’s dim view of the liberal refereeing in France. His complaints to the referees have been constant. In the 2-2 draw against Marseille, he was sent off for dissent.

UOL also refers to Neymar’s displeasure with the state of the pitches in France. The Brazil international has stated that the grass is often long and there are divots that put the players at risk. Neymar has not been the only one to bring this up. Several PSG players have publically requested that the league inspect the pitches in the top flight.

Finally, Neymar does not like the bus journeys that the PSG squad embark on due to the relative proximity of a lot of opponents. Nor does he like that the squad stay in a hotel together in the days leading up to matches. At Barcelona, the players would meet up on the day of the game.

Nasser Al Khelaifi confident of PSG stay

Nasser Al Khelaifi, the PSG president, travelled to Brazil this week to visit Neymar, who is recovering from an operation on a fractured metatarsal. His intention was to convince PSG’s flagship player to remain in Paris. Al Khelaifi made public his confidence that Neymar would remain a PSG next season, but others are less sure. According to Le Parisien, PSG sporting director Antero Henrique confessed to an agent that he couldn’t guarantee that Neymar would stay put.

The one certainty is that Neymar has given the green light to a move to Real Madrid, and in the Spanish capital, they want it done before the World Cup.