Neymar was once again a conspicuous absence from the PSG squad for the weekend’s game against Toulouse. Thomas Tuchel watched his team get a comprehensive 4-0 win with Eric Choupo-Moting coming up with a brace. It has not been plain sailing for PSG in the French Ligue 1 this season, as the team suffered a shock 2-1 defeat against early pacesetters Rennes.

PSG continue to be affected by a lot of speculation surrounding Neymar, who could be leaving in a world record transfer – just as he arrived from Barcelona in 2017. The striker has categorically stated his intention to leave the club before the transfer window shuts on September 2. Barcelona and Real Madrid are both showing serious interest in the player. However, Tuchel has surprised many by claiming that he would like to see Neymar remain at the Parc des Princes. According to the Sun, Tuchel said:

“Neymar is in better condition, he’s getting fitter and fitter. He trained with a lot of intensity and quality this week.

“But the case between him and the club is the same every day: if the situation of his future with the club is not clear, he won’t play. But maybe it will be clear tomorrow, and he will play.

“It can be disturbing because this situation does not necessarily help the team.”

Neymar enjoyed a strong first season at PSG, but he was hit by several problems in his second campaign. The emergence of Kylian Mbappe, multiple injuries, and inconsistent form led to a mediocre 2018-19 season for Neymar, who has been tempted with the possibility of becoming the top dog in Barcelona. In his first spell at the Camp Nou, they must struggle to get out of Lionel Messi’s shadows but the Argentine’s stature at the club will wane in the next few years.

Tuchel’s shift in policy with regard to Neymar may come about as Mbappe and Edinson Cavani picked up injuries in the win over Toulouse. Cavani is not expected to be back until the third week of September, while Mbappe may not be back in action by the first week of October.

Neymar has so far been acting as a rebel and he has lost supporters, who were very vocal in displaying the hatred towards the player. It seems that Neymar is pushing himself to the point of no return with regards to PSG. These sentiments were echoed by sporting director Leonardo recently, but it does not seems to have made a shift in the player’s attitude.

The emergence of Real Madrid as a strong contender significantly changed the dynamics of the potential transfer. Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has admitted that Neymar is a player that he would love to have in his squad. Such a statement from a renowned boss like Zidane will make any player turned heads, especially at a time when there is a power vacuum in the Madrid squad after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barcelona have been able to clear the way for Neymar’s return by allowing Philippe Coutinho to leave the club on a loan deal to Bayern Munich, although this loan deal is largely likely to be made permanent next summer.

PSG were in denial with regards to Neymar’s wish to leave the club, but everything has been in the open for the last few weeks. However, the striker is fast approaching fitness and it remains to be seen if an injury crisis at the club may see Neymar make a return to the starting line-up.