Depending upon which narrative you chose to embrace, Neymar will either look to start a Paris Saint-Germain dynasty in which he is the jewel when they face Real Madrid in the Champions League or turn in an audition to be the Santiago Bernabeu's latest galactico.
The Brazil forward was apparently motivated in part by his desire to win the Ballon d'Or when he swapped Barcelona for Paris last August and dumping the reigning European champions out at the last-16 stage would certainly do much to further his ambitions.
Madrid's reported courting of Neymar has much to do with Cristiano Ronaldo's perceived decline over recent months but the Portuguese icon appears to be coming good at just the right time.
Quietly – by his standards – Ronaldo has scored seven goals in his past four LaLiga outings and, as the business end of last season's Champions League showed, he is almost without parallel when it comes to the big occasion.
Whether Neymar is Ronaldo's future team-mate, replacement or latest rival is a debate that will run beyond this mouth-watering tie. For now, we can see how the duo's statistics stack up this season with the help of Opta data.
23 - Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more goals this season in his first 28 competitive appearances (23) than he did in 2016-17 (21), despite playing fewer minutes (2344 v 2493). Decline? pic.twitter.com/glv7vENC2L— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 12, 2018
27 – Neymar is scoring at exactly one goal per game across all competitions. Ronaldo has 23 in 28 matches after his recent spurt, although his average of a goal every 102 minutes is his least efficient return since joining Madrid in 2009.
9 – The Champions League remains Ronaldo's favoured arena. He scored in all six group games, netting nine goals to outstrip Neymar's haul by three.
5 – Both players have boosted their tally by converting five times from the penalty spot, although Ronaldo has not been forced to argue with Edinson Cavani beforehand.
188 – Ronaldo has taken on a huge number of shots on goal and has been outscored by Neymar, despite his rival only attempting 126. They have registered 72 and 58 attempts on target respectively.
14 – Neymar has laid on almost three times as many goals for his PSG team-mates than Ronaldo has managed at Madrid, with five assists. The ex-Barca favourite has created 89 chances to Ronaldo's 35.
318 – The incredible number of dribbles attempted by Neymar at home and abroad this season, with 189 completed. Ronaldo has attempted 59 and completed 35.
30 - Neymar is involved in 30 goals after only 18 Ligue 1 games played - he reached this milestone on his 37th Liga game with Barcelona. Tornado. pic.twitter.com/EEbl121TTr— OptaJean (@OptaJean) February 10, 2018
Despite a diminished return against his own improbable efforts from previous years, Ronaldo remains an expert goal-getter, while Neymar is breaking new ground for himself in that regard.
The statistics concerning each player's wider performances are perhaps more instructive. Ronaldo's days of tearing off on relentless dribbles and runs appear to be fading into the past, while tormenting opponents in this fashion is second nature to Neymar, who is clearly the more adept creator of the two.
Perhaps those seeing Neymar as Ronaldo's potential replacement at Madrid are on to something when it comes to superstar appeal and marketing imperatives but missing the point in terms of matters on the field. While both are supreme forwards, they are different kinds of attackers. Neymar probably has more in common with the 26-year-old Ronaldo than this version.
The narrowing focus of Ronaldo's talents and Karim Benzema's trials as Madrid's number nine means a full-time conversion to playing as a striker makes increasing sense. Neymar remains at his best when operating across the entire canvas. They would be breath-taking in tandem and on Wednesday both men represent contrasting keys to victory.
|It needs to take 30 seconds – Matic wants quicker VAR|
|Team LeBron edges Team Stephen in thrilling All-Star Game|
|McIlroy sees progress despite failing to contend at Riviera|
|Silver supports NBA players speaking out on social issues|
|Mickelson ready for Masters after third straight top-six finish|
|Gattuso: My job is to be the players´ nightmare until season´s end|
|I wasn´t good enough – Guardiola reveals Wigan rejection|
|Dillon reigns supreme with overtime win at Daytona 500|
|Bubba Watson ends drought with third Genesis Open title|
|Brazilian derby between Vitoria and Bahia abandoned after red-card frenzy|
|Anderson ends barren spell with New York Open triumph|
|It was crazy, but I like that - Zidane revels in eight-goal Betis thriller|
|Asensio credits Zidane for Madrid´s thrilling Betis comeback|
|Zidane hopeful over Marcelo hamstring injury|
|Overton replaces injured Plunkett for Blacks Caps ODI series|
|Bonaventura claims Milan can catch Inter|
|Bravo for Claudio! Guardiola to pick keeper at Wembley|
|Mourinho hoping for reinforcements at Sevilla|
|´Quick-healer´ Groves hopeful over shoulder injury|
|Real Madrid become first side to score 6,000 goals in LaLiga|
|Real Betis 3 Real Madrid 5: Asensio at the double in LaLiga classic|
|AC Milan 1 Sampdoria 0: Bonaventura makes it 10 unbeaten for Rossoneri|
|Schurrle excited to finally link up with Reus and Gotze|
|Fit-again Hughes included in England squad|
|New number one Federer revels in ´unbelievable´ week|
|Real Madrid defender Marcelo suffers hamstring injury|
|Costa fumes referees ´want to give me a card´, but Simeone plays down penalty row|
|Thiem regains Argentina Open title|
|Stoger makes Dortmund history with Gladbach win|
|Championship Review: Leeds fight back for point, Norwich & Ipswich share derby spoils|
|Racing beat La Rochelle to go second, Castres edge out Bordeaux|
|Borussia Monchengladbach 0 Borussia Dortmund 1: Burki unbeatable as Reus returns to haunt Foals|
|FA Cup ´magic´ no surprise to Pochettino after Rochdale thriller|
|Rochdale hero Davies: This is every kid´s dream|
|Atletico Madrid will not stop in pursuit of Barcelona, promises Gameiro|
|Banks boot pays dividends for Treviso|
|Lucky 13 and second successive title for Kvitova after Muguruza classic|
|´Wrong image´ to blame for VAR confusion in Manchester United´s FA Cup win|
|Rochdale 2 Tottenham 2: Davies denies Kane in FA Cup classic|
|Rieder stretchered off as Wasps extend Chiefs´ slump|
|Atletico Madrid 2 Athletic Bilbao 0: Gameiro and Costa settle cagey clash|
|NHL commissioner Bettman condemns ´reprehensible´ Smith-Pelly abuse|
|Visser, Scott and Nel among six recalled by Scotland|
|Bhuvneshwar and Dhawan inspire India´s Wanderers win|
|Napoli set club record with another Serie A win|
|Froome disappoints in time trial as Wellens wins Ruta del Sol|
|Napoli 1 SPAL 0: Allan sends hosts top of Serie A again|
|Federer makes short work of disappointing Dimitrov|
|Allegri allays Higuain injury fears|
|Blackhawks fans ejected after racist heckling of Capitals´ Smith-Pelly|
|Allegri convinced Juve can get past Spurs|
|Sri Lanka sweep series after dominating Bangladesh|
|Everton fear ´long-term´ injury for Mangala|
|If it isn´t Madrid, it´s Paris - Hazard tires of speculation|
|Luiten claims Oman Open title|
|Torino 0 Juventus 1: Champions win derby but lose Higuain|
|Neymar exit made Barcelona stronger - Ter Stegen|
|Remove T20 cricket from international schedule - Bayliss|
|Injured Higuain forced off against Torino|
|Jesus confident of returning strong after knee injury|
|DeGale launches Twitter attack on beaten Eubank Jr|
|We had to change hotels – Ovrebo recalls fury after 2009 Chelsea-Barcelona semi-final|
|Spalletti: Inter board will decide my future|
|Munro blitz helps Black Caps progress despite defeat|
|Fabregas still wary of timeless Iniesta|
|Liverpool´s 30-goal hero Salah: There´s more to come|
|Valverde: Coutinho dropped for the good of Barcelona|
|Garcia floors Rios for ninth-round TKO|
|Ronaldo better than Neymar? No says Xavi|
|Donovan Mitchell caps NBA All-Star challenges with dunk success|