Neymar-to-Real Madrid reports escalate but Zinedine Zidane stays quiet
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane does not want the increasing speculation over a possible summer move for Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar to be a distraction ahead of the Champions League final.
This week has seen multiple local media stories claiming Madrid president Florentino Perez has renewed his pursuit of long-time target Neymar, who is reportedly unsettled in Paris less than a year after his world record €222 million move from Barcelona.
Former Marca editor Eduardo Inda claimed on Monday's edition of TV gossip show "El Chiringuito de Jugones" that a deal with Madrid was "almost finalised" and would go through ahead of this summer's World Cup for a fee of €260m-€300m. A similar story made the front cover of AS on Wednesday morning with the headline "Neymar is negotiating with Real Madrid" and a similar figure quoted.
The issue arose at Tuesday's post-training news conference, but Zidane was not keen to talk about it with his team still to complete three La Liga games before their May 26 Champions League decider against Liverpool in Kiev, Ukraine.
"[Neymar] is not my player," Zidane said. "I am not getting into this. I am just concerned with finishing the season well."
AS have also claimed that ex-Madrid and Brazil forward Ronaldo, who currently does some ambassadorial work for Los Blancos club, was working as an intermediary in the negotiations. Last week, Ronaldo said on Spanish radio that it was "impossible" for Neymar to leave PSG this summer.
The latest round of speculation comes as Neymar returned to Paris to finalise his recovery from a foot injury which has kept him sidelined since February. The 26-year-old was in the crowd at the Stade de France on Tuesday night as his teammates completed the domestic Treble with a 2-0 victory over third-tier Les Herbiers in the Coupe de France final.
Ex-Madrid midfielder Paul Breitner, who was in Spain for last week's Champions League semifinal second leg against Bayern Munich, is already taking it for granted that Neymar will be at the Bernabeu next season.
"Neymar will be very important next year for Real Madrid," Breitner told German station Sport 1, in quotes picked up by Marca.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan