Real Madrid have been linked with Neymar for several months, but the capital city club didn’t sign him in the summer and even released a club statement dismissing reports that they were moving for him.
Paris Saint-Germain chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi has revealed that he discussed the constant rumours with Real Madrid and that he hopes the Spanish institution hold genuine respect for their French counterparts.
In an interview with MARCA, Al-Khelaifi also discussed the club’s collaboration with the Air Jordan brand, amongst other topics.
Where did the idea of working with Michael Jordan come from?
“We have held ambition to be creative and different since we arrived at the club. Three years ago we spoke with Nike about this idea. They mentioned Jordan’s name and we thought, why not? I think this can put us at another higher level in many senses and help us take a leap forward, along with Nike and Jordan. We’re similar. Jordan was unique, creative and innovative and that’s what we want to be and what we’re being. We’re being a unique club. We’ll have more fans in North America, Asia and China and will keep growing in general. It’s not just football fans, we want people who aren’t into this sport to feel something for this club.”
Can this give you the mentality you’ve lacked in the last few years in the Champions League?
“Jordan was and is a winner, a fighter. For us to have his logo on our shirts will surely give us energy and extra motivation. Jordan believes in us and we have to believe in his idea and in ourselves. Only PSG are working with Jordan and that means a lot. We have to give our all on the pitch and I’m sure we will.”
How does this new season look for PSG?
“We have an objective, another one. We have new players and an ambitious new coach who has a new way of working. We also have players who just became world champions. But we need to focus on each game and on the day-to-day work, which is this year’s philosophy.”
Does the fact that Kylian Mbappe is a world champion and one of the stars of football help the club advance?
“Of course. Mbappe is already one of the best players in the world. As is Neymar. To be honest, I see them as the best two players in the world. To win a World Cup at that age and playing as he did is incredible and adds value to the club. He always wants to win, just like Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria and others. I think we have an incredible team.”
What do you lack in order to win the Champions League?
“We need a bit of luck, to believe in ourselves and to give our all until the end of each match. We’ve seen that fine margins make a difference in the Champions League.”
How do you deal with the rumours which constantly link Neymar with Real Madrid?
“It’s a bit frustrating if we’re being realistic because it’s not fair for other clubs or anyone to speak with our players. We don’t like it at all and we spoke about it with Real Madrid at one moment. We have a good relationship with them and they respect PSG, and I hope that this is true. We respect Real Madrid and their president Florentino Perez. I think it’s important for everyone that we don’t work behind the scenes. If there is something there then it’s better that we speak, whether that’s speaking with Florentino Perez or whoever and then saying what we like and what we don’t like. That’s what we expect of all clubs, not only Real Madrid.”
How is Neymar after a tough year, with the injury and the premature World Cup elimination?
“He is good, he is fit. He was injured and didn’t have time to get to his best level, but now he is confident and we’re glad to be able to count on him. I am sure this will be his year. He is happy and eager and very motivated. We need him and he is committed to winning with us.”
Having Mbappe and Neymar together must be a responsibility for the club.
“Of course, as we have the best forwards. There’s also Cavani and Di Maria and it’s a matter of pride. The good thing is that this allows you to think in a long-term project. We’ll go out to try to win each title and we’ll fight because we are obligated to.”
Can PSG be calm about Financial Fair Play?
“There are rumours that come from Spain in particular and we all know where they come from. What they say doesn’t matter to us. We are calm. We know we have done things well and are in line with the rules. We have sold players for record amounts and the truth is that we focus on our business and we hope that they let us get on with working. I don’t like people who aren’t honest, those who seem like friends but stab you in the back. I like to say things to people’s faces and to speak. I don’t like when clubs speak about us behind our backs, and that’s what is happening.”
Is Javier Tebas the biggest obstacle to winning the Champions League?
“I have never spoken about Tebas behind his back, but he does it. The last time we spoke I was clear with him. It’s better to say things to someone’s face. He attacks everyone, like Juventus, Inter and PSG. He should focus on his business, on LaLiga Santander and the Spanish clubs, and he should allow the others to work. He doesn’t have to worry because we’re not going against LaLiga Santander. He should leave us alone, and the others too.”
Could Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus have hurt LaLiga Santander?
“I don’t know, but that’s football. We have sold players to LaLiga Santander and we have bought some, that’s the market. All are within their rights. There’s a need to have an open mind and to leave those with an obsolete mentality to one side.”
What can Gianluigi Buffon bring for you?
“He brings a lot both on and off the pitch. He is a legend and his experience, like that of Dani Alves, is necessary. We’re proud he is defending our colours.”
Can the Nike and Air Jordan deal help with Financial Fair Play?
“Of course, as between Nike and the Jordan brand we’re talking about 100 million euros. People talk about our finances without knowing then, but we’re growing our income and there is a plan.”