Neymar's ICC participation depends on World Cup: PSG

Left: Neymar's presence at the International Champions Cup in Singapore is likely to depend on Brazil's progress at the World Cup in Russia, according to his club Paris Saint-Germain. The Brazilian has not played since injuring his metatarsal in Febr
Neymar's presence at the International Champions Cup in Singapore is likely to depend on Brazil's progress at the World Cup in Russia, according to his club Paris Saint-Germain. The Brazilian has not played since injuring his metatarsal in February. PHOTO: REUTERS
Left: Neymar's presence at the International Champions Cup in Singapore is likely to depend on Brazil's progress at the World Cup in Russia, according to his club Paris Saint-Germain. The Brazilian has not played since injuring his metatarsal in Febr
(From left) Jose Luis Caminero (Atletico), Robert Pires (Arsenal) and Maxwell (PSG) holding their former teams' jerseys at the press conference yesterday.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

He is the biggest name on the rosters of the three clubs involved in July's International Champions Cup (ICC) at the National Stadium but a big question mark still hangs over whether Neymar will travel to Singapore with Paris Saint-Germain.

At yesterday's press conference at Marina Bay Sands' ArtScience Museum, it was announced that the Brazilian football superstar's French Ligue 1 club will play at Kallang alongside Arsenal and Atletico Madrid, as The Straits Times had reported earlier.

This year's ICC will be played on July 26 (Atletico v Arsenal), July 28 (Arsenal v PSG) and July 30 (PSG v Atletico).

In 2014, Neymar stole the show at the National Stadium by scoring all four goals in Brazil's 4-0 friendly win over Japan.

Whether the 26-year-old will be back to wow fans here depends on his exertions for the Selecao at the World Cup in Russia from June 14 to July 15, says PSG's assistant sporting director Maxwell.

Neymar is recovering from foot surgery and may return to training in a month's time to spearhead Brazil's quest for a sixth World Cup title.

"It will depend on the World Cup. We don't know how far Brazil will go but we want him (Neymar) to come (to Singapore) and share our team with the fans," said Maxwell, who played for PSG as a left-back from 2012 to 2017. "We have this responsibility, but it will depend on how far Brazil go in the World Cup.

"Let's see the results then and we will plan his vacation and when he will go back to Paris with the team."

The topic of whether the star players from the three clubs would come to Singapore for the ICC during a World Cup year was a hot one at yesterday's press conference.

But the clubs' legends - Maxwell, Robert Pires (Arsenal) and Jose Luis Caminero (Atletico) - believe that the players are committed to putting up a good show here.

Pires, who was part of Arsenal's "Invincibles" team who finished the 2004 season unbeaten, said: "It may be a friendly competition but, when you are on the field, you don't have any friends. You want to win and, of course, win the trophy.

"The ICC is just after the World Cup. For all the teams and managers, it's very important to bring all the best and famous players.

"But it's very important for the players to talk to (Arsenal manager) Arsene Wenger and they will find a solution. The ICC is very important to Arsenal and I am very confident that Arsenal will bring a very good team."

Former midfielder Caminero, who played for Spain at the 1994 World Cup and scored 40 goals in 149 LaLiga games for Atletico, added: "It's definitely a sporting decision (on selecting World Cup players for the ICC) because it's the pre-season and all the players have to be in shape for the new season.

"Playing against these amazing teams (Arsenal and PSG), it's also an opportunity for the players to get fit."

The ICC is a pre-season tournament played in cities in Asia and the United States featuring top European clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Manchester United. Singapore will be the only Asian stop for the tournament this year.

Last year, German Bundesliga champions Bayern, English Premier League champions Chelsea and Italian Serie A side Inter Milan were the first teams to compete in the Singapore leg of the ICC, which had a total attendance of more than 100,000. Inter emerged champions after they defeated Bayern 2-0 and Chelsea 2-1.

The tournament, now in its sixth edition, is organised by the Catalyst Media Group.

Its chairman and president Patrick Murphy said: "We are committed to bringing the best of football to the people here and look forward to working with the Singapore Tourism Board to grow and create exclusive experiences for the fans in Singapore and the region."

• Tickets for this year's International Champions Cup will go on sale from 10am on April 30 at Sports Hub box offices and www.sportshub.com.sg. For more information, visit www.internationalchampionscup.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2018, with the headline 'Neymar's ICC participation depends on World Cup: PSG'. Print Edition | Subscribe