Rivaldo Wouldn't See Neymar Joining Real Madrid 'As a Betrayal'

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2019

GUANGZHOU, CHINA - JULY 24:  Rivaldo attends Legend Star China Tour on July 24, 2018 in Guangzhou, China.  (Photo by Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images)
Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images

Being a Barcelona legend doesn't mean Rivaldo would begrudge fellow Brazilian Neymar joining bitter rivals Real Madrid. 

Rivaldo, who played five years and won two La Liga titles with Barca, recently addressed Neymar's future, amid ongoing speculation the world's most expensive player will leave Paris Saint-Germain this summer.

Speaking to Betfair (h/t Matthew Cooper of the Daily Express), Rivaldo said:

"For now, what is clear is the player's desire to leave PSG. With two big Spanish clubs competing for him, he should be even more eager to fly away from Paris. If Zinedine Zidane signs Neymar for Real Madrid, I won't see it as a betrayal. Neymar left Barcelona to sign for PSG and now could fly to Madrid, so it's not the same as if he had left Barca for Madrid."

Rivaldo hedged his bets somewhat by also saying Neymar "would love to return to Barcelona" if the chance arises.

Those words come at a time when rumours are building Barca will indeed bring Neymar back to the Camp Nou. President Josep Maria Bartomeu is reportedly set to meet his PSG counterpart Nasser Al-Khelaifi in Liverpool to discuss a deal, per Mundo Deportivo (h/t MailOnline's Matt Porter).

Meanwhile, Spanish football expert Guillem Balague has revealed where Real stand in the picture, reporting PSG have rejected bids from both of Spain's big two, but would rather strike a deal with Los Blancos, per BBC Sport.

Neymar appears increasingly likely to swap the Parc des Princes for a return to the Spanish top flight. The forward, who won the UEFA Champions League with Barca in 2015, was jeered during PSG's 3-0 win over Nimes in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

Home supporters chanted "Neymar get lost," according to Cooper. The derision is a direct symptom of a summer of discontent between PSG and the club's star player.

Neymar is back in training but appears to have worn out his welcome in Paris.
Neymar is back in training but appears to have worn out his welcome in Paris.DOMINIQUE FAGET/Getty Images

Back in July, Al-Khelaifi offered a warning to Neymar to stay committed, when he told France Football (h/t Vaishali Bhardwaj of the London Evening Standard): "Nobody forced him (Neymar) to sign here. Nobody pushed him to."

There was also notable "tension" between Neymar and sporting director Leonardo.

Neymar's situation at PSG may appear untenable, but Les Parisiens should think twice about parting company with the marquee forward after only two seasons. Thomas Tuchel's squad may not be as beholding to Neymar's talents with Kylian Mbappe also in the ranks.

Yet for all of the match-winners around him, few players can match Neymar's mix of flair, pace, vision and calmness in front of goal. At his best, he is PSG's chief playmaker, as well as the team's keenest source of goals.

Even with Mbappe in the team, PSG still need Neymar.
Even with Mbappe in the team, PSG still need Neymar.FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

PSG's chances of finally winning the Champions League are stronger if the 27-year-old remains in the fold. Similarly, Neymar has a better opportunity to be the main man if he stays in France than if he returns to a Barca squad that hardly has room for him.

Aside from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, the Blaugrana also recruited Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid earlier this summer. The mercurial Ousmane Dembele is still on the books and has the potential to reach the levels of his illustrious team-mates, provided he can avoid injuries and learns consistency.

Real have more of a need for Neymar, despite the arrivals of Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic. Both add quality to the final third, but Los Merengues have lacked star power since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus in 2018.