Have Neymar and PSG helped bring each-other down?


When PSG snatched Neymar from Barcelona in 2017, it was meant to be a statement of intent. No more would they be the pretenders – they had captured the star many tipped to be the breaker of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s duopoly on football.

However, little over two years later, their dream move has become an expensive disaster.

Following his unveiling in Paris, Neymar stated how he was won over by the ambition of the PSG project. A feeling that was felt around Europe, how could it not be seen as a move of serious ambition? Neymar played a monumental part in one of the biggest sporting comebacks of all time as PSG fell to Barcelona 6-1 in the UEFA Champions League, showing he was quickly ascending to the top.

Having contributed to 47 goals in 45 games for Barcelona in his final campaign, PSG were well and truly getting a superstar that looked set to succeed the shadow left by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in France.

Neymar’s move to Paris was his chance to step out of the shadow of Lionel Messi and become the man of his own team. Whilst the Parisian’s have continued their domestic dominance with Neymar – this is something they have been achieving prior to his arrival. The Brazilian was meant to be the ingredient that took them into the deeper echelons of the UEFA Champions League and that has not happened during his stint.

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Neymar played a starring role in Barcelona’s infamous comeback against PSG – Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

In fact, since the introduction of Neymar, PSG have failed to progress past the round of 16 in both of his seasons at the club so far. With the exception of 2016/17, PSG made the quarter-finals of every Champions League from 2012 to 2015. The team that reached the quarter-finals for those three years can be seen as somewhat inferior to the team spearheaded by the former Santos man.

Whilst names like Ibrahimovic, Edison Cavani and Thiago Silva were all on the team-sheet, so were the likes of Mamadou Sakho, Jeremy Menez and Ezequiel Lavezzi. Quite the difference between those names and the likes of Kylian Mbappé and Angel Di Maria – just to name a few.

Looking into the issues further, it isn’t like Neymar and company have outplayed opposition and fallen short, they’ve largely underwhelmed as a whole. However, Neymar in particular has barely been involved in the pivotal moments of PSG’s past couple of seasons. In his debut campaign, the forward underwhelmed against Real Madrid before then missing the second leg through injury as he watched his side collapse to a defeat and an exit.

The trend continued the following campaign, although this time, Neymar didn’t feature at all. After PSG took a 2-0 lead against Manchester United at Old Trafford, he was left to once again watch them collapse and exit the competition at the Round of 16.

The Brazilian’s fitness has been a recurring issue during his time at the club. Last season, Neymar missed a total of 26 games in all competitions, similarly, in 2017/18, he missed a total of 22. Whilst the player is not at fault for being injured, having their big star missing consistently in the big moments certainly hurts the team.

Perhaps the biggest issue with Neymar’s stint in Paris is his demeanour and attitude. It has often been reported how divided the dressing room is and how much of an influence the Brazillian is on that, as to be expected with the biggest name in the team.

Clashes with team-mates has been regularly reported throughout his time, whether it be his clash with Edison Cavani or his comments that ‘young players need to be more like men’ and even clashing with coaches. Following his departure from Paris, Unai Emery stated that Neymar is the ‘leader’ at the club:

‘I am of the opinion that PSG’s leader is Neymar. Or that he is currently becoming it. Neymar came to PSG to be the leader, to go through this process to someday become the best in the world. At Manchester City, Pep is in charge. At PSG, Neymar has to be.’

Off the field issues have also been a consistent issue, whether it be not turning up to pre-season training or his ‘superstar behaviour’ the Brazilian has seen his professionalism to the project questioned. PSG President Naser-Al-Khelaifi openly questioned the commitment of Neymar stating that nobody forced him to join the club.

The on-going issues took another turn with the player recently claiming that the 6-1 win over PSG when he was at Barcelona was the greatest moment of his career.

With 51 goals in 58 games for the French outfit, Neymar’s tenure on paper has been a success. However under deeper analysation, cracks are appearing frequently. Whilst he is still just 27 years of age, there is a feeling that Neymar has put himself in a position where he has wasted two years of his career through petulance and egotistical decisions.

Whilst the stranglehold of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo competing for the Balon d’Or has been broken, it was not Neymar who broke the wheel. In fact, the Brazilian at this point stands the furthest from the trophy he lusts  than he ever has, finishing 12th as Luka Modric swept the award last year.

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Neymar was expected to compete for the top individual honours with Ronaldo and Messi – Photo: JESUS ALVAREZ/DIARIO AS

Furthermore, Neymar is no longer seen as the man by PSG anymore with the club reportedly choosing to keep Kylian Mbappé over Neymar. Such is the loss of interest in the star that Real Madrid and Barcelona’s presidents have both dismissed the idea of taking the Brazilian on – he is well and truly stuck.

PSG have found themselves in a position where a lesson must be learnt. Whilst collecting a team of star individuals would work on paper, it can and has gone wrong when it comes to balance and cohesiveness. A project often compared to Manchester City, the English side has built a system and a sense of togetherness within their squad. There are no cliques and there is no ‘celebrity behaviour.’

Whilst PSG’s star man is lashing out at fans and mocking them in the press, City have become a well-oiled machine and a side often taken seriously. Meanwhile, the Paris outfit have found themselves stuck with a star, who despite granting his every wish, wants out but has no destination.

Despite having time for Neymar to steady the ship as he enters his prime, there is a sense that the wonder-boy from Santos didn’t quite hit the level many would have expected by now. Instead of being a consistent Balon d’Or contender and amongst the best three players in the world, the forward is at odds with his club and seemingly with fans too.

Beyond the self-indulgence and questionable choices, there is a world-beating footballer, however, the player is quickly becoming the cautionary tale told to youngsters over the dangers of self-indulgence and poor decision making.


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Birmingham based European football fan!

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