Paris (AFP) – Neymar’s decision to post a photo of himself in thoughtful contemplation sparked a fresh wave of speculation that he is on the verge of sealing a world record 222-million-euro ($256.8 million) move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain.
The Instagram picture, even accompanied by a matching emoji, shows the 25-year-old Brazilian superstar stretched out on the pitch with his chin resting on his left hand.
It garnered more than a million and a half ‘likes’ within 12 hours of it being posted in the United States where Barcelona are on a pre-season tour.
Three of the ‘likes’ came from PSG players — winger Angel Di Maria, goalkeeper Kevin Trapp and midfielder Marco Verratti.
On Tuesday, PSG skipper — and fellow Brazilian — Thiago Silva gave a digital thumbs up to a mocked-up photo montage published by media company Esporte Interativo showing Neymar in a PSG shirt along with compatriots and prospective teammates in France.
Esporte Interativo used the montage to illustrate what they insist is an agreement reached for Neymar to move to the French capital from Barcelona where he has played since 2013.
Like Barcelona, PSG are also touring the United States where Neymar’s future has dominated conversation.
“I don’t know,” Thiago Silva told Le Parisien newspaper when asked if he knew whether the Brazilian star was about to come a PSG player.
“I hear a lot from journalists and a player like Neymar would be an interesting addition to the PSG project.
“But, for the moment, it is especially important to prepare for the new season. After and if Neymar arrives it would be a good thing for the squad.”
Is Neymar going to sign?
“Not yet,” smiled the captain.
– Deal ’95 percent complete’ –
In Spain, it was reported by Catalan media group RAC 1 that “certain players” at Barcelona have already tried to convince Neymar not to accept the PSG offer which would dwarf the 105 million euros Manchester United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba.
However, it’s believed the Brazilian is being seduced by the immense wealth on offer to him from the Qatari owners of PSG and by the opportunity to have a team built around him.
The daily Sport newspaper also claimed that Luis Suarez has also attempted to persuade Neymar not to split up the MSN frontline at Barcelona made up of Lionel Messi, Suarez and the Brazilian star.
Catalunya Radio said that the deal is “95 percent complete”.
One of the keys would be the payment to Neymar’s father and agent of a “premium exceeding the 40 million” paid when the player controversially moved to Spain from Santos.
Other reports have claimed that Neymar senior has recently met with, or is about to meet, PSG sporting director Antero Henrique.
However, Barcelona vice-president Jordi Mestre insisted Tuesday that it is “200 percent” certain that Neymar will stay at the club.
In a public game of tit-for-tat, PSG coach Unai Emery hailed the Brazilian.
“Neymar has advanced his game massively and today he is one of the five best in the world,” said Emery.
“Our president is working hard to attract top players and our fans would be content to count on a new top player to go along with the talent we already have.”
Neymar, meanwhile, will display his coveted skills for the first time this summer when Barcelona face Juventus in a pre-season friendly at East Rutherford, New Jersey on Saturday.