Transfers happen throughout every summer, as clubs and players begin new journeys in pursuit of success. Some of the big moves produce effects on other decisions, and there is every reason to believe Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Italy will have an impact on Neymar’s future in Europe.
CR7 is poised for a move to Juventus, bringing an end to a remarkable nine-year run with Real Madrid. The European title-holders will look to add reinforcements in the attack, and that is where Neymar could prove to be the optimal target to replace Ronaldo.
The Brazilian’s choice to join Paris Saint-Germain after several successful seasons with Barcelona was a true shock for many, but one could understand some aspects of it. Perhaps feeling overwhelmed by the shadow of team-mates such as Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, Neymar was ready to create his own path in France.
Injuries did not let that dream become a reality, but the 26-year-old may be set for another change now. Links between Neymar and Real Madrid have been seen often, and with Ronaldo’s departure the timing seems to be right for him.
There was also a feeling that he never really settled into the French capital, both in terms of a new setting and with his new squad. Neymar clashed with striker Edinson Cavani, and despite the abundance of talent did not seem to develop a rhythm with the individuals around him. Although PSG re-claimed their Ligue 1 title, they crashed out of the UEFA Champions League in the Round of 16 versus Real Madrid.
However, it should also be noted that Neymar still managed to score 28 goals in 30 matches across all competitions for the 2017-18 campaign (a fact not lost on Los Blancos).
A La Liga return would intrigue him, and Madrid would want nothing more than to make this happen. Their rivalry with Barcelona runs deep, and the opportunity to bring in a former player will be too tempting for club president Florentino Perez. When Perez took over in 2000 he engineered the signing of Luis Figo, a transfer that can still bring about anger in Catalonia today.
A similar scenario is in front of him now, and Neymar is the type of player who may be able to fill the void left by Ronaldo.
PSG preparing for the worst
Paris Saint-Germain find themselves in a unique situation, with Neymar under contract until 2022. Along with Cavani and Kylian Mbappe, the club boast an attack that can compete with any side in Europe.
They have added former Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel as manager, and signed goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. But losing Neymar will be a massive blow, and may completely change their desired trajectory for the future. Real Madrid have the resources to play a dangerous financial game, and PSG may find only more frustration as the summer weeks unfold.
Cristiano Ronaldo will make a major impact in Italy, and will have a serious influence on the balance of power in Serie A. That move will likely see Neymar headed back to Spain, and Real Madrid can still have significant firepower for their front-line.