Football: Neymar out of PSG opener, exit talks 'are advanced than before', say Paris club

Neymar training with Paris St Germain at the Ooredoo Training Centre on Aug 10, 2019.
Neymar training with Paris St Germain at the Ooredoo Training Centre on Aug 10, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS, AUG 10 (REUTERS, AFP) - Brazilian Neymar will not play in Sunday's (Aug 11) season opener for Paris St Germain, the Ligue 1 club said, as speculation continues to swirl over whether or not the forward will remain at the French champions.

"He has not completed a full week with the team and, for that reason, he will not play with us tomorrow," PSG coach Thomas Tuchel told reporters on Saturday (Aug 10), ahead of the league match against Nimes.

Another source at the club said PSG was hoping to make a decision soon regarding Neymar's future in the French capital.

"We are still in talks over moving things forward, to see if he will stay or not," said the source, who added it was important the team "stays focused on the championship".

"Neymar is not in top physical condition," they added.

Sporting director Leonardo confirmed to reporters that the Brazilian was near the exit door but that PSG were "not yet ready to give its approval (to the transfer)" ahead of Sunday's match at the Parc des Princes.

The Qatari-owned club has won Ligue 1 for six of the last seven campaigns, with only AS Monaco interrupting the run in 2016-17. PSG finished 13 points clear last season and 16 points ahead the season before that.

Sporting director Leonardo Araujo, back for a second stint in the role, has said Neymar can leave if a buyer is found.

Neymar joined PSG from Barcelona in 2017 in a deal valued at a record 222 million euros (S$348 million). However, his spell in Paris has been blighted by injuries which have kept him out of key Champions League matches.

Real Madrid or a return to Barcelona are the most likely destinations for the world's most expensive footballer, with Spanish media on Friday saying that Zinedine Zidane's side will battle Barca for the 27-year-old's signature.

Sports newspaper AS claimed Neymar has been offered to Madrid by PSG, who are open to selling if they can either recoup the record fee they spent on him in 2017 or receive half that amount, with players included in the deal.

Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo says that he would prefer a move back to Catalonia to play alongside former teammates Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Neymar, whose time in France has been marked by injuries and controversies, has made a series of remarks that strained his relationship further with the club and sparked outrage on social media.

Asked by an online sports channel about his best memory in football, the troubled superstar cited Barcelona's incredible 2017 Champions League victory over PSG when he was part of the team that overturned a 4-0 first-leg deficit by winning 6-1 in the second leg of their last-16 tie.