Real Madrid send scout to take notes on Neymar at Anfield
The club have a representative to England to watch this afternoon's friendly between Brazil and Croatia - the same person who met Neymar in Rio two months ago.
Zidane's shock departure will have no major impact on Real Madrid's big plan for the summer - to sign Neymar whatever the cost.
Real Madrid scout at Anfield
Madrid have decided to send a special envoy to Liverpool, where Brazil take on Croatia in a pre-World Cup friendly at Anfield this afternoon. The same club employee who met up with Neymar several times in Rio de Janeiro two months ago, which AS reported in our cover story on 9 May.
Madrid's representative travelled to Merseyside on Saturday morning and is due to meet Neymar and review how his recovery is coming along. Today marks three months to the day when Neymar underwent surgery on his right foot; he will start this afternoon's match on the subs' bench but is expected to be brought on at some moment, to make his first appearance since fracturing his fifth metatarsal in PSG's meeting with Olympique de Marseille in February. Real Madrid's scout will be observing from the stands.
Negotiations are at a standstill for the time being, on Neymar's own request; the player wants to channel all of his energies into helping Brazil at the World Cup but his long-term objective remains the same: to sign for Real Madrid.
With that in mind, Neymar's father and Real Madrid have assembled a team of negotiators and consultants in the hope of fining an effective, discreet and above all, passive way of convincing PSG owner Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, that it would be better for all parties concerned if negotiations were concluded this summer...
Pini Zahavi, the agent tasked with closing the operation
Heading this crisis committee will be Israeli superagent Pini Zahavi and his assistant Humberto Paiva, a young Brazilian football representative based in London who is a familar face to emplyees in the back offices at PSG and is believed to have been behind the complicated negotiations which released Neymar from Barcelona.
While Zahavi and Paiva take care of the business side of negotiations, El Fenómeno Ronaldo Nazario and the representative who Madrid have sent to Liverpool will deal with the personal side of the operation involving the player. Neymar is aware that leaving PSG this summer will be an incredibly difficult operation. Florentino's team of confidants have urged him to be patient. One of his best friends, Philippe Coutinho was in the same position last summer but managed to orchestrate a relatively painless exit from Liverpool six months after he had put in a transfer request.
And that is how Neymar plans to play it - he won't force his exit and neither will he view it as the end of the world if he has to stay on another year in France. He knows that the route to Real Madrid will be with careful negotiation, not pressure...