The Neymar-PSG Era Comes To An End
Neymar’s persistent injury problems have raised doubts about his future with Paris Saint-Germain beyond this season. The Brazilian forward’s incredible potential was first showcased with a memorable goal when he was just 17 years old, displaying incredible skill to evade defenders and score.
However, 12 years later, Neymar’s career has been hampered by a fourth ankle injury in four years, and he is set to miss a crucial game for PSG. It appears that the time has come for Neymar to find a new club and try to recapture the form that made him a sensation as a teenager.
Neymar’s mercurial nature is a topic of much discussion in the football world. To some, he is a footballing wizard, the rightful heir to Ronaldinho and Pele. For others, he represents unfulfilled promise – a player who seeks the limelight and spoils the game with theatricals and a nonchalant attitude towards hard work.
But this is part of what makes Neymar so captivating. He is among the world’s best because football is effortless for him. It would be a disappointment if he tried too hard and lost the essence of his game. His capacity to convert his talent into team success is, in many ways, unimportant. Neymar is best appreciated in isolation.
The issue is that football does not work that way. The best players are expected to elevate the level of those around them and win trophies. GOAT conversations do not rest on elastics alone.
Perhaps that is why Neymar joined PSG initially.
By his lofty standards, he had an average season with Barcelona in 2017. The Catalan giants came second in La Liga and were eliminated by Juventus in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Neymar, while a vital member of the squad, could not replicate the electric form of the previous year. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez were the stars, and despite Neymar’s match-winning performance in the best Champions League comeback of all time, he rarely received the credit he felt he deserved.
A transfer to PSG seemed like a logical move for Neymar, as he could have the chance to shine in the Parisian spotlight. He had his own team, his own league, and the opportunity to demonstrate that he could lead his teammates to success.
And in his debut season in France, Neymar delivered. He registered 32 goal involvements in 20 Ligue 1 starts and scored six goals in seven Champions League appearances. PSG completed the domestic treble and won Ligue 1 by a comfortable 13-point margin.
However, the season unraveled when Neymar suffered an injury. In the first leg of the Champions League round of 16, PSG fell 3-1 to Real Madrid. Neymar missed the second leg due to an ankle injury, and PSG ultimately lost 2-1.
Neymar has not been the same player since his injury in 2018, which he rushed to recover from in time for the World Cup. Despite being named in the tournament’s team of the tournament, he could not prevent Brazil from being knocked out in the quarter-finals. Neymar also received criticism for spending 14 minutes on the ground after being fouled during the competition, and he even suggested he might never play for Brazil again.
After the World Cup, it was expected that Neymar would lead the Brazil team again. However, PSG signed Kylian Mbappe permanently, which led to questions about Neymar’s relationship with his new teammate. The local media suggested that Neymar was jealous of Mbappe’s success.
Initially, Mbappe defended Neymar and praised him as the best player in the world. However, there were reports of on-field feuds and disagreements off the pitch between the two. Neymar struggled with injuries during the summer and was not in top form at the start of the season.
Meanwhile, Mbappe had a successful season, contributing 40 goals to the team’s success. Unfortunately, injuries continued to plague Neymar throughout the year.
Neymar’s injury-prone nature may be the root cause of his deteriorating relationship with PSG. He has suffered multiple fractures to his metatarsal and ankle ligaments, as well as muscle injuries, which have prevented him from finding the necessary rhythm and continuity to lead a team. Neymar’s absence from the pitch has made it impossible for him to be the star player for PSG.
While Neymar’s off-field issues have been extensively scrutinized, such as his feuds with teammates and late-night fast-food trips, these would not have been major concerns if he had been performing to his full potential on the pitch.
However, the focus has shifted from Neymar’s football skills to his persona. Despite having renowned managers such as Unai Emery, Thomas Tuchel, Mauricio Pochettino, and Christophe Galtier, none have been able to manage Neymar effectively. Despite being given multiple chances, no one has been able to control the narrative surrounding the player.
Neymar is once again injured and PSG are behind Bayern Munich on aggregate in the Champions League last 16. While they are likely to win Ligue 1, PSG have been knocked out of the Coupe de France and rumours of unrest are circulating.
Kylian Mbappe may leave the club this summer, and Lionel Messi could follow him. Neymar’s departure could be the best way to resolve the current tensions at Parc des Princes. PSG has lost three of their last four games, and manager Christophe Galtier is struggling to handle the media scrutiny of the team. Mbappe has also had his fair share of off-field drama.
Given the injuries, disruptions, and noise, Neymar’s samba flair may no longer be relevant to PSG’s success. Neymar likely understands this and may benefit from a fresh start elsewhere. Ending the awkward relationship between Neymar and PSG may be best for both parties, allowing Neymar to return to his award-winning form and PSG to rebuild their squad.