Barcelona Legend Rivaldo Says Neymar 'Very Likely' to Join Real Madrid

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistApril 23, 2018

Former Barcelona's Brazilian midfielder Rivaldo looks on during a charity football match between Barcelona Legends vs Manchester United Legends at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on June 30, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / PAU BARRENA        (Photo credit should read PAU BARRENA/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP Contributor/Getty Images

Any chances of Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar moving back to Barcelona appear to be slim, according to club legend Rivaldo, who has said the Brazilian is "very likely" to join supposed suitors Real Madrid.

Rivaldo, winner of the 1999 Ballon d'Or, appeared on Brazilian programme Esporte Espetacular and encouraged his fellow countryman to leave France, suggesting a move to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu looked most probable (h/t AS' Fernando Kallas):

"I have already told Neymar he could be the best player in the world, but I think that if he stays at PSG, he will never achieve that. He has to leave PSG.

"If you look at England, Spain, Italy, Germany... it's different.

"I'm speaking about football, about competition. Neymar will not return to Barcelona. It was a very difficult situation for him there.

"And according to the information I have from people close, everything I have heard recently, I think it is very likely that Neymar will go to Real Madrid. And there I think he can be the best player in the world."

Madrid has been touted as a potential next destination for Neymar virtually since his arrival in Paris last August.

The forward's first season at the Parc des Princes was cut short by a metatarsal injury, although he did recently provide a positive fitness update ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, via Goal:

Goal @goal

Good news for Brazil - Neymar is back walking ahead of the World Cup! 🙌🇧🇷 (Credit 📹: https://t.co/nRSOPYS3Fq) https://t.co/iDJoBIvNIf

One major difficulty for Real in finalising a move this summer would be agreeing a transfer fee for their target. Neymar moved to Paris for a world-record £200 million, and Real may struggle to raise the funds needed to tempt PSG into selling their poster boy after only a year in the French capital.

While PSG have invested heavily to recruit phenomenal talents like Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, there has been a lack of team cohesion, while Unai Emery's place as manager is also under threat.

Emery didn't give the impression he had a strong grasp of Neymar's situation after recently saying he's uncertain when his injured player is set to return to the club, per Yahoo Sport UK:

Yahoo Sport UK @YahooSportUK

💬"It all depends on how he [Neymar] feels." "And when he's ready to start the exams, he'll come back. "When? I don't know, I don't know. When he's well." Paris Saint-Germain Coach Unai Emery is still none the wiser about when star man Neymar will return from injury. #PSG 🤔 https://t.co/R38OiyPncj

Rivaldo's suggestion is that Neymar can only realise his full potential by joining a bigger club, and he appears to feel the limitations in Paris will not allow him to do that.

But Los Blancos may not like some of the behaviour Neymar has displayed in France, and BBC 5 live Sport pundit Julien Laurens recently commented on his failure to celebrate PSG's recent Ligue 1 title win with his team:

BBC 5 live Sport @5liveSport

While his team were winning Ligue 1, Neymar was playing poker. @JulienLaurens believes the winger has been a liability for #PSG off the field. Mina Rzouki, @JamesHorncastle and @KieranCanning discuss this and much more 👇 PODCAST 🎙️: https://t.co/BLDRZooFYa https://t.co/f8EHNRU7u1

That action demonstrated Neymar's nonchalance when it comes to PSG's fortunes; it would be difficult to imagine the Brazilian being absent from any potential title party if he were at Barca or Real.

Despite the lengths of red tape and negotiations required to execute what could well be another world-record-breaking transfer, Rivaldo seems assured Neymar has a destiny to fulfil in Madrid.