Again, Neymar PSG is missing an important phase due to injury. Does anyone else think the Brazilian will stay past the summer?
There’s that one scene that every fan has in mind when they think of Neymar. That one goal that perfectly symbolizes the superstar: the then 17-year-old Brazilian dodges two tackles, plays a one-two with a team-mate, slides the ball through his legs, puts it past two defenders on the inside and finally tips it off rushing keeper past. Wow!
Neymar suddenly became known with the goal for Santos. Twelve years later, the scene seems like an eternity away.
PSG: Neymar polarizes everywhere
The same player has just been sidelined with his fourth serious ankle injury in four years. He missed the biggest (league) game of the season and is also in danger of missing the most important match in the premier league. It’s about time this player moved on and rediscovered at another club the 17-year-old who once took the world by storm.
Neymar polarizes wherever he goes. It has always been like this. Extreme views are the order of the day as far as he is concerned. Some consider him the embodiment of samba, the legitimate successor to Ronaldinho and Pelé. His critics, on the other hand, see Neymar as a sloppy genius who has not lived up to his potential and whose senses have been dulled by the spotlight. Neymar, the accusation goes, doesn’t know hard work, is more a star than a footballer and dulls his game with theatrics and a laissez-faire attitude.
But it’s also part of its appeal. Neymar handles things so easily, almost playfully he has advanced into the absolute world class. Thomas Tuchel once called him “an artist”. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you tried to destroy the essence of your game with too many rules? Neymar is sort of an individualist who is best enjoyed when he thrives on his own.
The problem is that football doesn’t work that way. The best in the world are meant to raise the level of the players around them. They are there to win titles. GOAT debates are not decided by elegance alone.
Neymar: why did he join PSG in the first place?
And that may also bring us to the reason why Neymar switched to PSG in the first place.
By his own high standards, he had endured a mediocre season in Barcelona in 2017.
The Blaugrana finished second in LaLiga and were eliminated by Juventus in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. While Neymar was an important part of the team, he was unable to match his strong form from last year. Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez dominated the headlines. And while Neymar was the X factor in the greatest Champions League comeback in history, he rarely received the recognition he felt he deserved.
So a move to PSG actually made sense. Neymar could be the protagonist and bask in the Paris spotlight. He had his own team, his own league, his chance to show that he could lead the players around him to success.
And he did for one season! Neymar came to life in his first season in France. He has had 32 goals in 20 Ligue 1 appearances and has scored six goals in seven Champions League games. PSG managed the domestic treble and won Ligue 1 by 13 points.
Neymar: Injuries mark his time at PSG
But the season faltered when Neymar picked up an injury. PSG lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16 first leg. In the second game, the Brazilian had to sit out due to an ankle injury. PSG lost 1-2.
And Neymar hasn’t been the same since. Although he recovered from his injury in time for the 2018 World Cup, he was unable to prevent his selecão from being eliminated in the quarter-finals. It was cold consolation that the forward made the team of the tournament. The public malice poured out over him by fans and the media weighed more heavily. It was calculated that Neymar spent 14 minutes on the ground in Russia after fouls on him. Completely frustrated, he announced that he might never want to play for Brazil again.
Instead of showing it to everyone in Paris with anger in his stomach, Neymar faced new (luxury) problems on the Seine. Because PSG committed a young French winger named Kylian Mbappé.
And that’s where the real trouble began. Neymar has been bombarded with questions about his relationship with his new team-mate and local media have spread claims that he is jealous of Mbappé’s World Cup successes.
Kylian Mbappé outperforms Neymar at PSG
Mbappé initially defended Neymar, dutifully describing the Brazilian as the best in the world and stressing that he wanted to learn a lot from his new team-mate.
Despite all the statements: the signs that the two were never really a heart and soul were piling up. They quarreled openly on the field and there were reports of disagreements off the pitch. A summer later, Neymar was struggling with injuries again while Mbappé started his second PSG season with fireworks, ending the year with 40 goals.
Meanwhile, Neymar’s injuries were piling up.
And there we have the root of Neymar’s crumbling relationship with PSG: his inability to stay fit.
He has fractured his metatarsal twice, torn ligaments in his ankle three times and has struggled with a series of muscle injuries.
PSG: The coaches have problems with Neymar
Individual class can whitewash a lot over a short period of time. But Neymar was barely able to find his rhythm or the continuity needed to lead a team. Neymar simply can’t be the star if he’s not on the pitch.
Everything else is just a side effect of it. Neymar’s problems off the field have been analyzed to death – and there are plenty of them. From arguments with teammates to a midnight visit to McDonald’s after a painful defeat, Neymar hasn’t exactly helped his reputation.
But if he’d been on the pitch and performing, those misdeeds might not have been a big issue.
Instead, everything now revolves around Neymar as a person.
A number of well-known coaches have worked their way through him: Unai Emery, Thomas Tuchel, Mauricio Pochettino and now Christophe Galtier. Honestly, none of them had the Edeltechnician, or rather the headlines surrounding him, permanently under control.
And now? So Neymar is injured again and PSG are in danger of being eliminated by Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League. The star ensemble will probably win Ligue 1, but the title in the Coupe de France is gone. No wonder dissatisfaction is said to be great.
Neymar, Messi and Mbappé: Are the stars leaving PSG?
Mbappé could leave this summer, Messi could follow him. And Neymar could be next.
That’s the best way to end it all. Tensions are high in the Parc des Princes. PSG have lost three of their last five games and Galtier is struggling to contain the media frenzy. Neymar isn’t the only problem – Mbappé certainly played his part in the drama.
But Neymar is probably the one PSG can afford to leave the most. The injuries, the disruptions and the noise make the samba flair almost irrelevant at the moment. Basically, Neymar knows that too. In addition, there is his horrendous salary (allegedly around 45 million euros per year) and the long contract period (until 2025 plus an option for another year).
It is fitting that after the defeat against Bayern there was a meeting between PSG boss Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Chelsea owner Todd Boehly. It was about Neymar and a possible blockbuster transfer in the summer. Loud mark calls PSG “only” 60 million euros transfer fee for his star.
It’s time for the unhappy marriage to end, for the player to have a chance to be who they were 17 years ago.
And that could be mutually beneficial.