Neymar’s time in Paris has caused a major split in opinion. Following his world record €222million move from Barcelona to PSG in 2017, the expectation has been for the Brazilian to lead his side to Champions League glory, with the French giants having consistently racked up league titles at a canter throughout the preceding decade.
In the five years that Neymar has been a PSG player, the former Barca star has only made 153 appearances for the Club after regularly spending time on the treatment table. This led to many PSG fans becoming fed up with Neymar’s unreliability as he missed many crucial games, particularly in the early knockout stages of the UCL. When Neymar has been on the pitch, however, his quality shines as he’s bagged 110 goals and 67 assists during his 153 appearances in the French capital.
Neymar came tantalizingly close to delivering UCL success to the streets of Paris in 2020. His breathtaking performances in the latter stages of the UCL fired PSG to within 90 minutes of becoming only the second French team in history to lift the European Cup. Unfortunately for the 2015 UCL winner, his side came up short against a strong Bayern Munich team, who went on to win the Treble for the second time in their history. Neymar has started the 2022/2023 campaign like a house on fire, having already racked up 9 goals and 7 assists in just 8 appearances in all competitions thus far. The forward seems to have taken exception to being snubbed from the 2022 Ballon D’or shortlist which was released in August. The Brazilian was joined by teammate and football legend Lionel Messi, who has also started the season on fire, in not making the cut for football’s most prestigious individual award.
Neymar’s mini feud with Kylian Mbappe is also bound to have played a key role in motivating the Brazilian this season. During a game against Montpellier in early August, Mbappe missed a penalty kick. Later in the game, PSG were awarded another spot-kick to which Neymar grabbed the ball and was ready to take.
Although he had missed earlier, Mbappe was evidently upset at having the penalty duty taken away from him and was even seen expressing his complaints in the ear of Neymar, as the Brazilian stepped up and converted the penalty. The issues continued off the pitch as it is reported that Sergio Ramos had to separate Neymar and Mbappe after the two had a heated altercation in the dressing room.
The spat did not end there as Neymar was seen liking tweets from fans which suggested that the money and power gained from Mbappe’s new PSG contract – which he put pen to paper amidst strong interest from Real Madrid – had left the 23-year-old Frenchman feeling like the “owner of PSG.”
All this seems to have added fuel to Neymar’s fire, as the Brazilian’s form at the start of this season most certainly guarantees not just entry to the 2023 Ballon D’or shortlist, but being among the favourites to win it. Should his form carry on throughout the season, many will be claiming Neymar to be the best player in the world in 12 months’ time. The stats don’t lie.