Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo could play together – Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane insists he doesn’t care what others say about his managerial tactics after he rotated his Real Madrid squad in their 3-2 defeat to Sevilla.

An uninspired performance from Real Madrid’s backline saw Sevilla cruise to three points at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

An uninspired performance from Real Madrid’s backline saw Sevilla cruise to three points at the Sanchez Pizjuan.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says he is not aware of any talks to sign Paris Saint Germain forward Neymar, while adding that there would be no compatibility issues if the Brazilian did one day play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.

There have been reports that Madrid president Florentino Perez was close to finally landing long-time target Neymar, with AS claiming that a meeting to put together a summer move which would break the €222 million world transfer record set when the Brazilian joined PSG from Barcelona last year had taken place.

Two weeks out from Madrid’s Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev, the issue dominated Friday morning’s news conference at Madrid’s Valdebebas training facility. Asked directly whether he knew if talks were going on between his club and Neymar’s camp, Zidane said his view was that planning for next season would begin properly once this campaign was over.

“I don’t know if they are negotiating for Neymar,” Zidane said. “I don’t believe so, as what we care about is what we are doing at the moment. I don’t get into that, it is for others. We must finish this season well, and the rest will be talked about afterwards. There will be changes for sure, but I am not thinking about that now.”

Zidane went on to reject a question claiming that Neymar and Ronaldo could not play together in the same XI.

“Good players are always compatible,” Zidane said. “People said I was not compatible with [former France teammate Youri] Djorkaeff. What nonsense! Together we won the World Cup. On the pitch good players always get on, off the pitch I don’t know, but on the pitch there is always chemistry.”

Zidane accepted a suggestion that planning for next season could depend on whether the team lost to Liverpool in Kiev, with his own job even in trouble after they exited the Copa del Rey early and did not challenge Barcelona in the La Liga title race.

“What happens will happen,” he said. “I am very positive, thinking just about doing everything to win, not about anything else. But you know that here, what counts are results, nothing else. We started the season well, winning three trophies, two at start then Club World Cup. For us it went a bit worse in the Copa and in La Liga. But now we are in the Champions League final and will give everything, to again defend our title.”

Zidane admitted that his team’s intensity in Saturday’s home game against Celta Vigo and next weekend at Villarreal may not be at 100 percent given they are 18 points behind Barca now, but denied it would be a problem while getting ready to face Liverpool on May 26.

“We will play the game, it is true that we are not going to win La Liga,” he said. “But we prepare very well by playing games at intensity. We must do that as well as possible. In training we must work on some things yes, but with the ball more than physical stuff.”

He did clarify recent comments from Zidane that La Liga was the most difficult competition to win, saying that success in the Champions League was “what everyone wants.”

“La Liga is the most difficult, that’s clear, but in the end the Champions is what everyone wants. And we are going for a third in a row. So that’s very nice.”

Zidane’s PSG counterpart Unai Emery was also asked about Neymar’s future by a Spanish journalist, who had travelled to Paris to pose the question at Friday’s prematch news conference, and passed the buck to sporting director Antero Henrique.

“Ask Antero to give you an answer!” Emery said. “I am not the person for this. You have come all the way from Spain to ask this question and for that I am sorry but I am not going to respond.”

Neymar has since been unveiled as the cover star for PSG’s 2018-19 home kit, which was made official just after Emery’s appearance in front of the press.

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