Real Madrid and PSG are kicking off their Champions League round-of-16 series on Wednesday, but an even bigger battle between the two sides could take place this summer.
Big changes are afoot at Real Madrid during the offseason, and a high-ranking Real Madrid source says Neymar is the club’s No. 1 target, even though he could cost as much as $430 million–and even though PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi is telling people privately that Neymar, who joined from Barcelona in a record move a shade over six months ago, is locked up for PSG and will not be sold.
The feeling inside Real Madrid is that the club will not be able to land both Neymar and Harry Kane this summer, as the club is also interested in signing defensive help and a goalkeeper, with Chelsea's Thibaut Courtois and Manchester United's David De Gea the preferred targets.
But what does all of this significant change mean for Cristiano Ronaldo's future at the club? The Real Madrid source said it could be dependent on whether Neymar arrives, but added that the club likely wouldn’t stop the 33-year-old Ronaldo if he wants to move on for a huge payday somewhere else. In case you’re wondering, José Mourinho is telling people privately that Manchester United would not be a destination for Ronaldo.
Elsewhere in the soccer world:
How long will U.S. Soccer CEO Flynn remain in power?
Under new U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro, the position of president will be less powerful than it was under Sunil Gulati. Even more people inside the federation now view the CEO role as U.S. Soccer’s most important day-to-day position, responsible not just for the business side but also overseeing the new general manager roles on the soccer side. I asked CEO Dan Flynn on Saturday how long he plans to continue in his position.
"I do have a contract that runs through a certain point, and we're working on the final details of that," Flynn said. "I would characterize it this way: I care a great deal about the organization. I want to do what's best and to transition Carlos's presidency, and I care a lot about the people I work with every day. So I want to make that as smooth as I can for everybody, and so Carlos and I will continue to have some good discussions. The board has been very supportive of me staying on, and I'm going to try to stay on for a period of time. We just haven't figured it all out exactly."
Flynn added that his successor would be up to U.S. Soccer’s board of directors, now chaired by Cordeiro. Flynn has been in his position since 2000, but he had a heart transplant not long ago. He had been planning to leave the CEO position this year, but he changed his mind after the U.S. men failed to qualify for the World Cup when it became clear that a new president would be coming in.