Football fans woke up on Wednesday morning with a saga brewing in Western Europe as it was revealed Spanish giants Barcelona are trying to re-sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.
The Brazilian, who is once again injured and sitting out the Copa America in his home country, wants out of Paris after only two years. Neymar is trying to push through a transfer that would see him return to Barcelona after leaving the Spanish club for Paris in 2017 for €222 million.
According to the Mirror, Neymar is already prepared to go on strike if PSG do not agree to sell him back to Barcelona. It is just the beginning of what could be a long, drawn out transfer saga in the lead up to the 2019-20 season.
Back to Barcelona
Neymar promised so much but delivered so little in his two years at PSG. Yes, the French club won Ligue 1 in both years along with cleaning up on the domestic cup front in 2017-18. But nothing PSG did in France wasn’t unexpected. Due to the club’s immense wealth, they were always expected to finish top of the league and contend for all of the trophies available to them at a domestic level.
The Brazilian was bought for two reason in 2017 by PSG owners Qatari Sports Investment. The first reason was non-footballing as Qatar faced sanctions from other Middle East nations. His mega transfer was made as a PR move to take the world’s eyes off of the tiny Muslim country. QSI’s secondary reason to sign Neymar was to win the Champions League.
Despite Neymar’s previous success with Barcelona, he was unable to lead PSG to the Champions League trophy in two attempts. His time in Paris shows Neymar is a great player to have as an alternative to your star man.
While at Barcelona from 2013 to 2017, Neymar played second fiddle to Lionel Messi. A year after Neymar arrived a Barcelona, Luis Suarez joined from Barcelona, thus relegating Neymar to third fiddle in the team. Neymar was great in his role but at PSG, it has been blatantly clear he isn’t the player that can be counted on to be the man.
Neymar’s PSG legacy
According to the Telegraph, Neymar has played at 60% capacity during his time at PSG. Neymar’s lack of desire has influenced PSG owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi to take a dig at him. Speaking to France Football, Al-Khelaifi stated he wants players to play for the shirt and “not when it suits them”.
Barcelona are so interested in bringing Neymar back that they could swap Philippe Coutinho and/or Ousmane Dembele for the forward plus cash. If Al-Khelaifi wants a player who will play for the shirt, then he should approach Coutinho over Dembele. Even then, Coutinho isn’t the missing piece to lead PSG to the Champions League Final.
In two seasons at PSG, Neymar played in just one Champions League knockout round due to injury. He strangely went down with a foot/ankle injury at the same stage of the season in back to back years. He missed 26 games due to injury or rest in 2018-19 along with three more matches due to suspension.
Neymar’s lifestyle could be partly to blame for injuries. It appears Neymar is more akin to Ronaldinho than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi when it comes to fitness and professionalism.
Now 27, Neymar’s career is suddenly passing him by. The Brazilian will turn 28 in February of next year and it is arguable Neymar is not currently in a top five of footballers in the world today. He may not even be in the top 10 based on his last two seasons.
If Neymar leaves Paris this summer, his legacy at PSG will be one to forget. The club has already severed ties with Dani Alves and Gianluigi Buffon, two players cited as overpaid members that achieved little for the club. Neymar could be the next to go and PSG may be better off in the long run.