There seems to be growing concern in Paris over Neymar's future in the French capital. When asked if their prize asset was staying at Paris Saint-Germain beyond the summer before his side were eliminated from the Champions League by Real Madrid, Chairman and club CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi's answer was hyperbolic and assured. "2,000 percent," he said.
Nobody is quite sure what the figure is now, but it appears to be dwindling.
The growing sense that Neymar and PSG are not meant to be is compounded with news that Al-Khelaifi and sporting director, Antero Henrique, have travelled to Brazil to speak with the player face to face as he begins his recovery from foot surgery. The club have also reportedly put a valuation of €400 million on their supposedly priceless superstar as their grip on him seemingly loosens.
Real Madrid have been lined up as the one side willing to and possibly capable of welcoming the player to the club at that price. Neymar could potentially move in consecutive summers for over half a billion euros, but what would fuel a Real Madrid move for a player with such a penchant for petulant outbursts and indecisiveness just one year after leaving their La Liga rivals Barcelona?
The stature that Neymar enjoys means signing him helps in terms of branding and overall exposure in an increasingly competitive market at the top. With that in mind, would Real Madrid's motives be footballing, economic or simply a power move to reassert their control over their European competition?
From a financial standpoint, having a Neymar in your team helps with sponsorship and gives you access to a football-crazy culture like Brazil with its population of over 200 million. The scope of the financial windfall that Neymar can bring was mentioned on Monday with PSG's entire off-the-field strategy currently shackled by the player's whims. PSG were hoping to grow sponsorship with Nike and Fly Emirates, their jersey supplier and jersey sponsors, respectively, by as much as 400 percent in line with what the Goliaths of the game get for such deals. Without him, however, their negotiating position weakens considerably. This is something Real Madrid could certainly capitalise on if they were to sign the Brazilian.
Many suggested that PSG bought Neymar as a power move. They wanted to assert their dominant financial position and flood the transfer market with money meaning only an elite few could compete with them. Even Real Madrid had to get thrifty last summer as they steered clear at a time where they can often be very excitable and reflexive to what is happening in the market.
Not since 2014 have Real Madrid signed a Galactico, when James Rodriguez arrived from AS Monaco following his breakout at the 2014 World Cup. Florentino Perez might be in the mood to send out a gentle reminder of Real Madrid's financial muscle yet again. Their title defence this season was abysmal and you can expect Perez to be eyeing up a statement signing as he tries to wrestle domestic control back from Barcelona and an improving Atletico Madrid, who look set to finish ahead of their city rivals in La Liga.
If Real Madrid are looking at Neymar from a footballing perspective, they are obviously thinking that things may have been poorly handled by the Ligue 1 side and that in a better situation, the Brazilian can be managed and excel just like he did at Barcelona. To be fair, that perceived letdown in France is all in the context of PSG's failure to advance past Madrid in the Champions League. Neymar, who missed the second leg through injury, has scored 19 Ligue 1 goals in 20 appearances, compared to just 13 over the course of the entire La Liga campaign last year.
Cristiano Ronaldo is still not ready to hand over his title as the team's alpha male yet but his recent adjustment as more of a striker means he might just be willing to welcome a player of Neymar's calibre if he sees trophies and goals in his future with him by his side.
The general feeling at the moment at Real is that they have a group of players of varying quality in the squad with too many that are not, and might never be, ready to play at the very top, which is something that Perez wants to rectify. A summer clear-out was on the cards anyway and Neymar's potential availability might make a few decisions on current players easier to make. The fact that he is a former Barcelona player will likely make the thought of a swoop even more alluring to Perez.
There is rarely this much smoke without at least the embers of a fire and the trip to Brazil by PSG's head honchos indicates growing concern over their perturbed -- and possibly wantaway -- star.
Real Madrid have wanted Neymar since he was a 14-year-old learning his trade for Santos. If the move does happen, aside from the financial and footballing rewards, it would also prove that while they can't win every game and competition, Perez often gets his way when it matters most to him.