Neymar finds himself in limbo at PSG amid injury struggles and petty squabbles as he tries to engineer a move to Barcelona. He is in danger of wasting his brilliant talent… but is a victim of his own greed
- Neymar hit out at PSG after scoring in defeat by Dortmund this week
- He says they did not play him in three matches despite him being fit
- The Brazilian has been in conflict with the club for a year as he tries to engineer a move back to Barcelona, which Lionel Messi supports
- But Neymar forced a move to PSG from Barcelona back in 2017
- He has played nearly 600 matches already in his career having just turned 28
Neymar’s week has served as a useful metaphor to summarise his time at Paris Saint-Germain thus far.
An injury doubt heading into the game against Dortmund, he scored in a losing effort before taking a swipe at his employers as Lionel Messi sung his praises from afar.
Being under a mysterious injury cloud while pining for Barcelona is firmly now Neymar’s modus operandi. But, being Neymar, when he does play he invariably scores or does something brilliant.
Neymar during Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-1 defeat by Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night
Footballers do not have long careers though and the clock is ticking on the mercurial Brazilian, who is probably over halfway through his now with his best days looking long behind him as it stands.
It was poignant this week that when singing Jadon Sancho’s praises BT Sport pundit Owen Hargreaves said he looked like ‘Neymar in his prime’. He had a point, but Neymar has only just turned 28. He should be in his prime now.
Is he suffering from burnout, having played nearly 600 games in his career already? Or is he merely sulking to try and force through a move back to the Nou Camp? A little from Column A, a little from Column B, one suspects.
Having been left out of PSG’s recent domestic fixtures, Neymar hit out after the Dortmund defeat. ‘It was not my choice not to play the last matches. I wanted to play, I felt good,’ he insisted. ‘The club was afraid and it is I who suffer from it.’
It is a sad indictment of the relationship between player and club that this dissent barely made a ripple in the news, such is the regularity at which the Brazilian throws his toys out of the Paris pram. If anything, he held back.
Meanwhile, over in Barcelona, Messi was also reading from a script we have become accustomed to. ‘As I said before, he (Neymar) is one of the best and contributed us a lot on the pitch,’ he told Mundo Deportivo. ‘He is really looking forward to coming back, he always seemed sorry. He did a lot to return and that would be the first step to try to arrive.’
Neymar alongside Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi at a sponsorship event in Tokyo in 2017
Santos (2009-13): 223 games, 126 goals
Barcelona (2013-17): 186, 105
Paris Saint-Germain (2017-): 77, 67
Brazil (2010-): 101, 61
TOTAL: 588 games, 369 goals
Messi is at the centre of a political battle in Barcelona at the moment as players and the board pull in different directions, with the superstar holding more clout than anyone and doing all he can to try and bring Neymar back.
President Josep Bartomeu humoured him last summer, allowing Messi and Barcelona fans to believe Neymar could really return, while knowing full well it was not financially possible.
Little has changed on that front, and only if expensive flops Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele are shipped out in the summer, plus several more big earners, could a move for Neymar even be considered.
A move to Real Madrid may be more feasible financially, but while the player would be open to joining Barca’s eternal rivals, he operates in the same position as Eden Hazard, last summer’s big-money signing.
Even if Neymar’s antics leave PSG open to selling him, it will take a bid close to the £186m they forked out to Barcelona three years ago to bring him back to La Liga. As it stands, it remains unlikely that either Barca or Real will be able to do that in the summer.
Neymar is unveiled by PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi after his world record move
Let us not forget though, that this mess is all of Neymar’s making. He finds himself at a club where he doesn’t want to be, with little hope of an escape route, having pulled out all the stops to force a move there less than three years ago.
Tired of being Messi’s understudy and wanting to make a challenge for the Ballon d’Or himself, Neymar paid his release clause and forced Barcelona to sell when they did not want to.
Since then, Neymar has failed to finish in the top five for the Ballon d’Or in the last two years, having done so in each of the previous three when he was at Barcelona.
He is a victim of his own greed.
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