Neymar will stay at PSG next season despite reports that he could join Real Madrid, outgoing coach Unai Emery has said.
Brazil star Neymar joined PSG last summer in a world record €222 million move from Barcelona, but has been linked with a rapid return to La Liga.
“I think he is going to stay at PSG because it’s a solid project,” Emery, who will leave PSG in the summer, told Cadena Ser radio.
“The club opted for Neymar and Neymar chose PSG, so they will give continuity to this project. I don’t know for how long he will stay, because in football you never know, but next season he will stay and I think that’s the fairest thing for PSG and for Neymar.”
Brazilian legend Ronaldo fuelled speculation about Neymar’s future when he said he did not know whether the playmaker was happy at PSG.
Neymar has said speculation about his future is “annoying,” but has not clarified whether he will stay at PSG.
“This season, there have been times when everything relating to Neymar was exaggerated by the media,” Emery said.
“He doesn’t talk much and he said in the past that he is tired of the lies that were being told. On Sunday he reiterated that. I’m not going to pretend to be Neymar’s spokesman, but I think it’s best to listen to him.”
Neymar, who underwent surgery on a fractured metatarsal in March, was voted Ligue 1 Player of the Season on Sunday after scoring 19 goals and setting up 13 more in 20 league appearances.
“Neymar is at the level of Cristiano [Ronaldo] and [Lionel] Messi,” Emery said. “I insist the injury has hindered him, because he probably would have had the best season individually of his career in terms of numbers.
“Once he finds those synergies in the team, which is a process that requires time, and finds the combinations on the pitch with other PSG players, he will continue to give and bring those offensive requirements to reach the highest level that the team needs and I’m convinced he will be able to do so.”
Emery added that it had been a pleasure to coach Neymar.
“I’ve really enjoyed myself having a footballer of his calibre,” he said. “He is an extraordinary player but also a great person with a big heart.
“I remember the first training session and even though there is a very high level at PSG, we were all amazed. I’ve been delighted with him.”
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.