Zidane focused on Real Madrid players, not Neymar

The potential transfer of Neymar to Real Madrid remains a hot topic across Europe, but Zinedine Zidane is trying to disregard the claims.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid and PSG's Neymar   -  Getty Images

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane insists he remains focused on his own players, not rumoured transfer target Neymar.

Brazil international Neymar has been heavily linked with a move to LaLiga powerhouse Madrid, despite having only joined Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona for a world-record fee of €222million in August.

Madrid players Casemiro and Dani Carvajal both said this week Neymar could be a success at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

PSG coach Unai Emery issued a weary response to the latest questions about the future of 26-year-old at a news conference, suggesting reporters should ask Madrid president Florentino Perez for an update.

Speaking at his own media briefing ahead of a league game at home to Girona on Sunday, Zidane said it is not surprising members of his squad praised one of the best players in the world when prompted.  

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion, if you ask the players, if you ask me about Neymar, he is a very good player, but he is not a Real Madrid player," he said.

"I have to focus on my players and talk about them."

Contrary to comments made by Carvajal about the Champions League being the only remaining priority for Madrid, Zidane feels obliged to drive his players on in search of better domestic performances.

Los Blancos are third in the table, seven points behind Atletico Madrid in second and 15 back from leaders Barcelona.

"When Dani said that, [it] is because of the situation in the table, they like to play every tournament, but it's true that it's mentally harder when you're far from the first [position]," he said.

"You can think that it will be hard to achieve something in LaLiga, but [in] my role as coach I have to convince them that every game is important, now we're in the third position so we have to try to get the second one, that's also an important goal.

"But yes it's understandable that you journalists or Dani think that it's less motivating to play LaLiga but I say no, in the end they're always motivated and tomorrow we have a chance to [play] a great game."

Friday's draw for the Champions League quarter-finals pitted Madrid against Juventus in a rematch of last season's final in Cardiff, when the Spanish giants won 4-1 to become the first team to retain the title in the competition's current format.

"When Juventus are in good shape they are strong competitive side, it's going to be a tough tie, as always," Zidane said.

"I think if you look at it, it's going to be 50-50. We play the first game there and then we will see."

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