Real Madrid's Zinedine Zidane: PSG's Neymar 'would fit in at every club'
Zinedine Zidane has praised Neymar by saying he could fit into any team while the Real Madrid coach expects the world-record fee set by Paris Saint-Germain's signing of the Brazilian forward to be doubled in the coming years.
Neymar, who joined PSG in a €222 million transfer from Barcelona, has been linked to Madrid in recent months, although Mundo Deportivo reported on Friday that he was after a return to the Camp Nou this summer
Neymar missed Tuesday's Champions League second-leg clash against Madrid after undergoing foot surgery in his homeland at the weekend.
"Neymar would fit in at every club because he is very good just as other players," Zidane told a news conference. "I'm not going to talk about a player that is not mine.
They [PSG] paid €222m, that's what it is. When I was bought [by Real Madrid] they paid €72m or something like that and I thought it was crazy. Ten years later it's €222m... in 10 years time or even earlier than that, they might spend €400m."
Zidane says Gareth Bale remains a crucial player despite his absence from the starting XI in the Champions League tie against PSG.
Marca recently reported that injury-prone Bale would leave Madrid this summer.
Asked what had changed with respect to last season when Bale was a regular starter, Zidane said: "He is not lacking anything. Gareth is doing well but there are other players, too, and there are important games left to play.
"Gareth is a crucial player for us and will continue to be throughout the season. I speak to him and it's not a problem. He knows where he is. I have to select a team every three days and that is what I do. Bale is important but so are other players."
Zidane also came out in support of Benzema, who has failed to score in his last three appearances.
The France striker has found goals hard to come by this season, having scored eight in all competitions, his last on Feb. 24.
"I don't have to convince anyone," Zidane said. "People that know about football know that Karim is very good. He has been here nine years and has proved himself.
"I don't have to defend Karim, he is very good, I like him a lot as a player. His stats speak for themselves. He is Madrid's No. 9 and we ask more of him because he hasn't scored much lately. What he is being criticised for is not scoring but he has done other things for the team and the goals will come."
Third in La Liga and 15 points adrift of league leaders Barcelona, Real play at Eibar on Saturday.
"Tuesday's game is in the past," Zidane said. "We have to play a good game at Eibar.
"It's difficult to always maintain a high level. When you have such a big gap with the top it's very difficult but my message to the team is that we are not going to give up. This league is not over yet. We will fight until the end because in football, anything can happen."
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.