Neymar signing sparks rebellion in Real Madrid media

Barcelona supporters may not want to admit it, but the reaction from the culé collective to the eventual, proper, grown-up signing of Neymar is similar to that in Capital City. Rather than Real Madrid fans running for the hills and writing off next season, the general sensation has been to ponder whether Neymar is more than just a haircut, will get on with Leo Messi, and calculate how much the Brazilian is costing the club.

Perhaps sensing this unease about another diminutive tricksy forward player to go with the other 17 or so in the Barça squad, the early part of the week saw the Catalan press in full happy-clappy mode. Mundo Deportivo informed its readers that Neymar was an antidote to Alex Song, with former Barça player and manager Carles Rexach opining that “Barcelona need a player with this aura of a great superstar. The last signings have been OK, but they didn’t have this.”

Rather strangely, the local legend's newsprint colleague Miguel Rico was at pains to insist club president Sandro Rosell shouldn't take the credit for the deal, due to his longstanding connections in Brazil and with Nike. “He won’t play for Rosell, but for Barça,” finger-wagged Rico.

Sport are very excited indeed and make the whole relationship between Neymar and the club rather... sticky. “It seems like the perfect marriage,” sighed Josep Maria Casanovas. “They wanted each other, they needed each other and they came together. Barça and the footballer have signed a contract that’s like a love story.”

What’s more, claims Casanovas, there will not be a situation when Messi and Neymar dance around the pitch refusing to pass to each other. “One is the king, the other accepts his role as a prince.”

The Madrid press were talking about the forces of Mordor scuppering Barcelona’s deal, but there was the sense that it was a half-hearted bit of tampering. Even Florentino Pérez admitted, in a Monday interview with radio station Cadena Ser, that the club had been interested in Neymar three years ago but spooked at an estimated cost of  €150 million to put the deal together.

Neymar: wanted

However, in an interesting political move that has wobbled Real Madrid watchers, AS has come out on the attack against the Madrid president with Monday’s front page that “King Midas has lost his touch.” It was perhaps the motivation behind Pérez complaining that “in Barcelona, all the media help Barça. The media in Madrid don’t help Real Madrid.”

The response from this comment has been swift from AS, with Wednesday’s editorial by Alfredo Relaño reporting an incident at a second team match the weekend after the Champions League exit, where boos and applause for Pérez were heard at the game.

“A reporter from [radio station] Onda Cero relayed this. At the end of the game, Florentino rebuked him and accused him in front of, amongst others, a reporter from AS. He accused him of lying and said he would speak to his boss,” the AS chief. “Florentino doesn’t want criticism.”

But an even bigger boot was to come from the paper, with the accusation that “(Pérez) inherited the best club of the 20th century, now he offers us the second best in Spain in the 21st."

With Marca following party orders and gushing about an exciting future with Zinedine Zidane as Madrid’s Sporting Director and Gareth Bale on the pitch with a Cristiano Ronaldo signed up to 2018, the direction AS have taken is a curious one with elections - if anyone stands against Pérez - set to take place in June. Whilst Neymar’s signing sees people prepared to watch and wait on how the new boy will fit in, the imminent arrival of the Brazilian in Barcelona has seen at least one headache beginning for the rivals of the Catalan club.

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