Spanish giant Real Madrid is locked in a 2017-2018 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match with French powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain as rumors of a Cristiano Ronaldo-Neymar swap emerged.
Los Blancos won the first leg of the series held at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Wednesday. Ronaldo netted a brace while teammate Marcelo added another one to help Real pull off a 3-1 comeback victory. French midfielder Adrien Rabiot scored the lone goal for Les Parisiens, who will now host Madrid at Parc des Princes in Paris on March 6.
Neymar, the former Barcelona stalwart, failed to score a goal in the contest for PSG. The Brazil captain has scored six goals so far in the tournament, leading head coach Unai Emery’s squad to the top spot of Group B competitions in the group elimination round.
Prior to the match, Goal reported that a “potential swap deal involving Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo” could happen in the summer. Neymar has been linked to a move back to Spain with the capital city club since September of last year, but he remained in France even after the summer transfer window expired.
Neymar transferred to the Parisians last summer in a $277 million move from Barcelona, which broke Paul Pogba’s previous world transfer record of $131 million moving from Juventus to Manchester United in 2016. In his first season with PSG, Neymar has already netted 19 times in 18 domestic matches to lead the club to the top spot of the current Ligue 1 table.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo has also long been rumored to a Paris transfer. Local French outlet France Football even claimed that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner had intimated to a friend that he wants to play for Paris Saint-Germain in the future.
Ronaldo was reportedly in close relations with former PSG manager Laurent Blanc. With Emery now handling the squad, a switch to the French top flight seemed to have become the least of his priorities.
In a separate Goal article published after the said Champions League match, Neymar insisted that he is “happy” with PSG despite the loud speculations that he could ditch the club for Madrid at the end of the season.
“I have a contract with PSG. I am happy with my teammates and I only think about my story here,” Neymar said.
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi assured the Parisians’ fans that Neymar would not be moved this summer. Al-Khelaifi told reporters during the post-match interview that he is “100 percent” sure the Brazilian will remain to play for the Red and Blues next season.