Why battle between Real Madrid and Barcelona for Neymar is one neither wants to lose... but can't afford to win

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Neymar trains with PSG 
The Neymar episode has become a strange kind of death match for Spain's big two Credit: AFP

The battle between Real Madrid and Barcelona to bring Neymar back to Spain this summer is one like no other: for the sake of their prestige neither club feel like they can lose, and yet from a financial perspective it is also a transfer that neither can afford to win.

After years of overspending – the two highest wage bills in European football and two extensive stadium redevelopments that will lock up revenue for years to come – the Neymar episode has become a strange kind of death match for Spain’s big two. The pressure each feel from the other to prevail has meant that the footballer whose £198 million transfer fee to Paris St-Germain in 2017 remains the biggest ever, is being fought over...

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