Tangiers (Morocco) (AFP) – Neymar will not be there but Kylian Mbappe will be as Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain meet in the Champions Trophy, the traditional curtain-raiser to the French season, in Morocco on Saturday evening.
They have been the two biggest transfer sagas of the summer in Europe, with PSG ready to break the bank for Barcelona and Brazil star Neymar while Monaco try to resist interest in their teen sensation Mbappe.
But amid the talk that the side from the French capital are preparing pay his 222 million-euro (£199 million, $261 million) release clause, the Brazilian remains in the United States with Barcelona for now.
PSG came to Tangiers having themselves been in the States on a pre-season tour, and skipper Thiago Silva was forced to bat away questions about his Brazil team-mate on Friday.
“I know it is important because I have played with him at international level. But now is not a good time to discuss it. We have a match on Saturday, and after the match we will be able to talk about it,” Silva said.
“Everyone knows what I think about Neymar. He is my friend, we have been playing together at international level for seven years. We have a very open relationship. This is the moment where he must decide.”
If those comments suggest a deal could be completed soon, Paris coach Unai Emery insists he is focusing purely on the players he currently has at his disposal. They include new signings Dani Alves and Yuri Berchiche, the two full-backs.
“For me, the best players in the world are in our dressing room,” Emery said on Friday.
“The transfer window shuts on August 31. A lot of clubs start the season and will maybe have a very different team by the time the window closes,” added Emery, who is without the banned Angel di Maria and the unfit Julian Draxler here.
– Overseas odyssey –
Monaco are already a very different team to the one that won the Ligue 1 title in such style last season, with Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy joining Manchester City, Tiemoue Bakayoko going to Chelsea and Valere Germain moving to Marseille, among others.
Those sales have raised in excess of 150 million euros, and Mbappe could reportedly bring in as much as 180 million euros more.
Spanish sports daily Marca reported on Tuesday that an agreement had been reached “in principle” for Real Madrid to pay that amount for the 18-year-old.