Paris Saint-Germain 'is a step back' for Neymar - Brazil legend Ronaldo
Former Brazil centre-forward Ronaldo says that Neymar took a step down "on a sporting level" when leaving Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain last summer, while Spanish reports continue to claim that Real Madrid are interested in bringing the current Selecao star back to La Liga as soon as possible.
Neymar Jr. joined PSG from Barcelona in a shock world record €222 million deal last summer, signing a five-year contract which reportedly made him the world's best-paid player.
There have since been regular reports of the 25-year-old having problems settling on and off the pitch in Paris, although he has managed 20 goals and 14 assists in 22 games as his new team have eased clear in Ligue 1 and progressed in the Champions League and both domestic cups.
Speaking to Brazil legend Zico's YouTube channel, Ronaldo made clear that Barca were a bigger club than PSG, but then said each individual makes their own career choices.
"On a sporting level, Neymar's decision is a step back but these are challenges that each person takes," Ronaldo said. "In my time I also played at Barcelona, and went to Inter Milan when the Italian league was much more competitive."
Ronaldo played for both Barca and Madrid during his career, but is now much more associated with Los Blancos outfit, which he has recently represented in an ambassadorial role.
Meanwhile Marca's cover Friday morning said 'With Neymar in mind'. Inside the paper reported that Madrid president Florentino Perez was aware he had not signed a "Galactico" since James Rodriguez in 2014, and that Neymar's talent and marketing appeal ranked him well above Chelsea's Eden Hazard or Tottenham's Harry Kane, making them consider moving forward a €400m investment which was currently "parked" until summer 2019.
Through last autumn there were reports that Perez had remained in contact with Neymar Sr., who said in November that it was too early yet to discuss a move to Madrid.
Around the same time Madrid captain Sergio Ramos also spoke about whether the family had decided it was easier to move across the "Clasico" divide by spending a short time at PSG in the interim.
The latest Marca report points out that PSG do not want to sell Neymar, but mentions that the Ligue 1 side's president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is a long-term admirer of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo's long-term future at the Bernabeu remains in doubt after a public disagreement with Perez over whether the 32 year old deserves a pay-rise, and a below par start to the 2017-18 season which has contributed to the team slipping 16 points behind runaway leaders Barca in the La Liga standings.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan