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REAL MADRID

Neymar swaps Messi's Barça shadow for that of PSG's Mbappé

The Brazilian reportedly left LaLiga for Ligue 1 to step out in his own right as the superstar of a club, however, recent events suggest that is not going to plan.
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Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez knows from the words of his opposite number Al Khelaifi at Paris Saint-Germain that taking Neymar Jr from Ligue 1 to LaLiga this summer is going to be impossible. Certainly this is the stance from the Qatari-owned club, therefore any movement would come directly from the will of the player, most likely a position where he says he is extremely unhappy and wants to leave. And based on comments from those in Neymar's inner circle made to AS on Tuesday, now is not the time to make that move. The player is very conscious of the effort made by the Parisian club to bring him in - a world record transfer of 222 million euros and a net salary of 37 million euros until 2022.

Mbappé's rise creates Messi-like shadow

However, with this in mind, the recent rise in stature of young Kylian Mbappé is of meteoric proportions. The 19-year old has been one of the stars for France in this summer's World Cup. If Mbappé has risen in the Fifa oven like a perfectly baked loaf of bread, Neymar has come out of it burnt to a crisp, with accusations of simulation and over-playing fouls adding to his uninspiring performances for his country. Now, the Brazilian finds himself in a situation very similar to the one that drove him to leave Barcelona. Being in Lionel Messi's shadow at the Camp Nou prevented him from developing as a star, and at PSG he will be competing for the affection that Mbappé has won after leading France on the world stage.

Contrasting summers | PSG stars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

The truth is that without Cristiano in Madrid and with Mbappé's stock so high in France, Neymar appears to be back in the frame for Los Blancos. Property owned by PSG, and its wider group, is sacred to Florentino. This summer alone he has already come out to deny three pieces of information that had an effect on the Parisian club (one for Mbappé and two for Neymar), while last summer he did the same for Verratti. Rumours don't usually get that response. But, no matter the desire in Madrid, it appears that whether this operation can be completed or not this summer will come down to Neymar himself.