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Neymar

Neymar: I was set to play for Real Madrid

4:45 PM GMT 24/02/2022
Neymar, PSG 2021-22
The Brazil international has confirmed that he turned down the chance to begin his career at Santiago Bernabeu

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar has revealed that he was set to play for Real Madrid in his early teenage years, but decided against joining the Spanish giants after getting too "homesick".

Neymar is widely regarded as one of the top players of his generation, having learned his trade at Santos before going on to win La Liga and the Champions League at Barcelona alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

PSG broke the world transfer record to sign the Brazilian for €222 million (£185m/$247m) in 2017 and he is also the second-highest goalscorer in his country's history behind Pele, but he has now confirmed that he turned down the chance to play for Madrid in his youth.

What's been said?

Neymar would surely have enjoyed similar success had he opted to begin his career at Santiago Bernabeu, where he took in an extended trial, but he wasn't ready to leave his native Brazil in his early teenage years.

"When I was 10 Real Madrid invited me for a try-out. I was thrilled, I was so happy, I watched their practice. It was during the Galacticos era. I watched their game," the 30-year-old has told the Fenomenos podcast.

"I watched a game and I think all the goals were scored by Brazilians. I think two by Ronaldo, one by Robinho and a free-kick from Julio Baptista and another by Roberto Carlos.

"After the game I got a picture with all of them. I was over the moon. I stayed there for a week, for the try-out. It lasted for four of five days. On the fifth day they wanted to take me to a championship being held in Barcelona MIC Cup but I quit. I got really homesick and I wanted to go back home.

“It was pretty much all set up for me to play at Real Madrid but then I got back."

How has Neymar performed at PSG?

Neymar has added 10 more domestic trophies to his collection since joining PSG, and also helped them reach their first-ever Champions League final in 2019-20.

The former Barcelona star has struggled with fitness issues throughout his time at Parc des Princes, but has still managed to score 91 goals in 132 appearances for the club to date.

Neymar has no regrets over how his career has panned out, but was reminded of his brief spell with Madrid upon his arrival in France as he reunited with Pablo Sarabia, who started his professional journey in the Blancos' academy.

"It's funny because I met Pablo Sarabia playing at PSG and he was there too at Real Madrid back then," he added.

"He remembers everything, that I was there for a few days and then I left."

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