My heart remains in paris: Neymar

Neymar attends a charity auction in Sao Paulo on Thursday with his girlfriend Bruna Marquezine. It was his first public appearance since the World Cup in Russia.
Neymar attends a charity auction in Sao Paulo on Thursday with his girlfriend Bruna Marquezine. It was his first public appearance since the World Cup in Russia.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Despite winning the domestic treble in his 1st season at PSG, Brazilian wants more trophies

SAO PAULO • Brazilian superstar Neymar on Thursday sought to quash speculation about his future, insisting he planned to remain with French giants Paris Saint-Germain.

"I'm staying, I'm staying in Paris, I have a contract," Neymar said at an auction to raise money for his charitable foundation in Sao Paulo.

"Everyone knows my objective, why I went to Paris. I want to have success with that club and I hope next season could be wonderful."

Neymar, who is the world's most expensive footballer after moving to PSG from Barcelona in a record €222 million (S$354 million) deal last year, has repeatedly been linked to a move to Real Madrid.

He won the domestic treble with PSG in his first season at the club, scoring 19 league goals and providing 13 assists.

European champions Real have issued a series of statements in recent weeks denying they have an interest in signing him.

Speculation about a Neymar move to the Bernabeu intensified in the wake of Cristiano Ronaldo's shock move to Juventus, a development that has left a vacancy at Real for a superstar player.

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I'm staying, I'm staying in Paris, I have a contract. Everyone knows my objective, why I went to Paris. I want to have success with that club and I hope next season could be wonderful.

NEYMAR, Brazil and PSG forward, rubbishing rumours that he wants to leave the French club after one season and move to European champions Real Madrid.

"In the face of the constant reports linking PSG's Neymar Jr. to our club, Real Madrid wish to clarify that the club have no intention of making any offer for the player," a Real statement said last week.

"The two clubs enjoy an excellent relationship and, as such, if Real Madrid were at any stage to consider securing the services of a PSG player, they would approach the club in the first instance."

Although Neymar insisted he was staying in Paris, reports persisted that a move could be on the cards.

British media reports said on Thursday that PSG were open to the possibility of selling Neymar.

Real president Florentino Perez, meanwhile, said the club were determined to reinforce their squad following Ronaldo's departure.

"Real have a great squad that are going to be reinforced with magnificent players," Perez said.

"We are aware of the level of demand on the team each season. We are Real Madrid and we always want more. We must reinforce the present and, at the same time, strengthen the future."

Real, however, have also been linked to a move for Chelsea's Belgium World Cup stars Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois.

Neymar is currently on a break following the World Cup, which concluded last Sunday.

It remains to be seen if he will join the PSG squad on their pre-season tour to Singapore next week. The International Champions Cup tournament takes place from July 26-30 and PSG face Arsenal at the National Stadium on July 28 and Atletico Madrid two days later.

One thing for sure is that Neymar is enjoying his holiday. He took a swipe at his critics with a tongue-in-cheek video in which he taught children how to dive.

The 26-year-old was widely lambasted at the World Cup for his theatrical reactions to challenges which often left him wincing and rolling on the ground.

However, on Thursday, he took to Instagram to get his revenge.

"One, two, three, go!" he shouted as around a dozen youngsters fell to the ground of a parking lot.

"That's a free kick!" he screamed, breaking into fits of laughter.

The video was released with a hashtag #ChallengeDAFALTA, the free-kick challenge in Portuguese.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2018, with the headline 'My heart remains in paris: Neymar'. Print Edition | Subscribe