EXCLUSIVE: Qatar-owned PSG in frantic bid to keep star man Neymar

Neymar has scored 19 goals in 20 games for PSG since his $262 million move to the French capital last summer.
Updated 18 May 2018

EXCLUSIVE: Qatar-owned PSG in frantic bid to keep star man Neymar

  • Neymar has had an up and down season at PSG since his world-record move to the Parc Des Princes.
  • Brazilian star publicly and privately encouraged to return to Spanish football by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.

LONDON: Paris Saint-Germain have made it clear to Neymar that there are absolutely no circumstances under which the Qatar-owned club’s record signing will be allowed to leave for Real Madrid this summer.
If necessary, PSG are prepared to present the Brazil international with the option of playing his football in Paris next season or not playing football at all, sources at the club have told Arab News.
Privately and publicly encouraged by Madrid president Florentino Perez to return to Spanish football just one year after his global record transfer from Barcelona, Neymar and his father have been agitating for the move for months. According to PSG sources, Qatar will not countenance handing over the most high-profile and expensive acquisition of a project designed to secure the club’s first Champions League.
Senior club figures have spent much of Neymar’s first season attempting to placate the Brazil international. In just one example, club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and sporting director Antero Henrique flew to South America in March to meet Neymar and his father and discuss how the club could keep the pair happy. Talks between the two camps included asking Neymar’s thoughts on who should replace Unai Emery as PSG coach, said a source close to the player.
The meeting followed a debut campaign pockmarked by evidence of Neymar’s discontent in France. There has been on and off-field tension between the forward and leading goalscorer Edinson Cavani, whom the Brazil international wanted to replace as the taker of the side’s penalties and free kicks.
Neymar complained about coach Emery’s tactics, man management and refusal to allow him to skip certain matches. On more than one occasion, the forward unilaterally declared himself unfit to play. As he recovered from surgery on a fractured metatarsal in his home country, the 26-year-old provoked further controversy by posting an image of himself playing online poker while his PSG team-mates secured the Ligue 1 title.
Bought out of his Barcelona contract for €222 million ($262 million) at the beginning of August, Neymar was rewarded with a basic salary worth more than €300 million over the length of a five-year contract — at that point the most lucrative ever agreed. No release clause was included in the Brazilian’s new deal, however, so a second successive summer switch can only happen with Qatari consent.
That, according to PSG sources, will not be forthcoming, with the club’s hierarchy ready to reprise the negotiating tactics with which they kept Marco Verratti in France a year ago. Holding offers from leading Liga and Serie A sides, the Italy midfielder pushed PSG to be allowed to leave only to be told that his options were: “To stay. Or stay and not play. Whichever you’d prefer.”
Verratti stayed and played. PSG are confident that, ultimately, Neymar will make the same choice under Thomas Tuchel, the new coach appointed by the club with the aim of landing a first Champions League. Last week Neymar published an image of himself in his employer’s 2018-19 first-team kit. “Proud to wear the new jersey and to continue giving you joy,” read the caption.

Saudi Arabia to face Japan in Asian Cup second round after defeat to Qatar

Updated 17 January 2019

Saudi Arabia to face Japan in Asian Cup second round after defeat to Qatar

  • A double from Almoez Ali means Qatar top Group E.
  • Juan Antonio Pizzi's men now face Japan in second round on Monday.

LONDON: Saudi Arabia now know they will have to overcome Japan in the second round if they are to keep their hopes of a fourth Asian Cup title alive. 

A 2-0 defeat at the hands of Qatar meant Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men finished second in Group E — both sides went into the top-of-the-table clash knowing they had already secured a spot in the knockout stages. 

A brace from Almoez Ali in Abu Dhabi was enough to give Qatar the three points and leave them top of the group. 

From the kick-off the Green Falcons were the ones who looked the more likely to make the initial breakthrough —  Fahad Almuwallad slamming a right-foot shot against the post after 22 minutes.

Qatar captain Hasan Al-Haydos then missed a penalty in the 42nd minute after Ali had been clattered in the box.

But Ali, who scored four goals in Qatar's 6-0 rout of North Korea last weekend, made no mistake in first-half stoppage time.

He calmly slotted the ball past Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais to become the first player to score six goals in a single Asian Cup since South Korea's Lee Dong-gook in 2000.

Ali subsequently headed in a seventh goal of the tournament 10 minutes from time, celebrating with a jig of delight.

While the defeat was not ideal Green Falcons coach Pizzi said he was still hopeful Saudi Arabia would be able to go far in the tournament. 

"It was an intense game but we have to hide our feelings and prepare for the last 16," Pizzi said.

"We were missing quality in the final third and individual errors have cost us," he added.

"But we will bounce back. I respect every team left in the competition, including Japan, but I don't feel that we are inferior to them in any way."

Qatar, who have never gone beyond the quarterfinals, advance to face Iraq in the last 16.