Keeping Neymar amid interest from Barcelona was Paris Saint-Germain’s most important piece of business in the transfer window, according to his team-mate Marco Verratti.
Brazil star Neymar was strongly linked with a return to Barca, whom he left two years ago in a world-record €222million move.
The two clubs held meetings and Barca confirmed their interest in the forward, but their reported offer of €130m plus Ivan Rakitic, Jean-Clair Todibo and Ousmane Dembele – the latter apparently having been offered on loan – fell short when the former Borussia Dortmund winger rejected a proposed switch.
As such, many consider PSG’s Champions League chances to be greater, and although suspension rules him out of their first two games of the European campaign, Verratti believes retaining Neymar’s services was the best bit of recruitment work the club did in the transfer window.
“We need players like Neymar or Kylian [Mbappe], who are a bit above everyone else,” Verratti told reporters.
“Neymar had a difficult time with off-field moments that have somewhat destabilised him, but when he learned that he was staying, I saw him with a smile as always.
“He loves football, he is a player who will help us a lot. We are lucky to have him in Paris, we must enjoy him. I know the fans have not forgotten [what happened], but I hope Neymar will do everything [to forget the drama] and we will celebrate all this together at the end of the season.
“In football, there are always some nice moments and I hope that it will end well. Neymar will give 110 per cent.
“Neymar is perhaps the most important player we recruited. There are more favoured teams than us, but we will give everything.
“If we go out, it’ll because the opponents are better than us, but I do not want to go out and have regrets like last year [against Manchester United].”
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) September 17, 2019
Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani will all miss PSG’s Group A opener against Real Madrid on Wednesday, meaning Mauro Icardi could lead the line at the Parc des Princes.
The Argentina forward featured as a substitute in the 1-0 win over Strasbourg on Saturday and, although Verratti accepts he is still integrating, he is confident Icardi will prove his worth.
“It takes a little more time to get to know everyone, but it’s easy to play with him,” Verratti said of the on-loan Inter forward.
“He can score at any time. He can help us, he knows how to play with his team-mates and we are happy.
“We have to wait a bit to see the real Icardi. He has been out for a long time, but he is a magnificent player.”
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