PSG are on the verge of offloading Neymar after his turbulent time with the Ligue 1 outfit. Clearly not satisfied with winning endless Ligue 1 titles, the Brazilian star has spent much of his time at Parc de Princes sulking – and trying his best to orchestrate a move away from the French capital.
Other than improved team spirit in the event of his departure, there are several other key reasons why Neymar is better off away from the French capital.
- Move Destroys ‘Paper Champion’ Motif
While he has hoovered up trophies in France, it is common knowledge that PSG have very little in the way of real competition. This is especially the case at home matches, with ten of PSG’s 17 home wins of last season being enough to overhaul a two-goal handicap. For anyone else, such statistics would be a great source of joy, but Neymar seems doomed to remain a victim of his own profile.
Unfairly or not, Neymar harbours a reputation as a man that can play only for the very best, and many fans believe that he does not have the character necessary to be part of a new squad-building project. While a return of 34 goals in 37 appearances for PSG ensures that he is far from a ‘passenger’, there is the ever-present feeling that PSG would still enjoy the same dominance even without his services.
While his goals-per-game rate is much improved on his Barcelona average, most neutrals are loathe to see that improvement as meaningful. Beyond Lyon and Lille, no team in France is anywhere near to PSG, who were Ligue 1 champions with weeks to spare earlier this year.
Furthermore, in terms of overall quality and pedigree in European competitions, it is clear that the gap between PSG and Lyon is also far more pronounced than it is between Barcelona and the two Madrid clubs.
- Restoration of ‘human touch’
Aside from any hitherto-unseen desire to appease his own sceptics, Neymar may well feel compelled to move for far more personal reasons, even without taking his dwindling fandom in Paris into account.
Neymar has also suffered on a personal level in France due to his own, and his team’s approach to adverse situations. While PSG are dominant at home, the club’s continental record remains a worldwide punchline, despite the hundreds of millions spent over the last five years. Along with much of the team, his performances undergo a notable dip when the going gets tough for PSG, leaving many fans to believe him incapable of being a team’s ‘point man’.
- 4-3-3: How Man Utd Will Set Up With Wantaway PSG Star In Their Ranks
- Merseyside giants Reach €25m Agreement To Sign Liverpool Target
- Adidas Willing To Fund Napoli Move For £37m Liverpool Target
The more emotive fan might point to a dressing room full of big personalities at the Parc Des Princes as a problem. To use a terrace phrase, Neymar wears his heart on his sleeve – even if that does occasionally boil over into theatrics – and clearly thrives on the ‘right’ type of team chemistry. This type is one that has an aura of brotherhood, which is prevalent at places like Anfield and Borussia Dortmund, but distinctly absent from PSG.
At PSG, team chemistry is borne of skill alone – and the fact that no other team is anywhere near to PSG’s quality. Yet, for a man of Neymar’s innate skill, there is the possibility of achieving results and enjoying the company of fellow players, and it is that way of living which would await him at Barcelona.
- From Greedy to Gallant
Neymar’s possible return to Barcelona would somewhat dilute his reputation as a greedy, stubborn and surly character. Yet, while he might not necessarily take a pay cut, there would certainly be a gallant connotation to his return, as a man feeling duty-bound to ease Barcelona’s upcoming ‘transitional period’, in the face of Real Madrid’s inevitable improvement.
Right now, the ‘Blaugranes’, though favoured by football betting odds to defend their title, collectively cut an aging figure. This was particularly evident when they failed to make good on their status as Champions League favourites at the semi-final stage earlier this year. Lionel Messi, Arturo Vidal and Luis Suarez are now past their prime, and once they are all gone – perhaps in as little as two years – Barcelona are going to need more in the way of wise heads to get the club through what will be a tough transitional period.
Luckily, Neymar and (potential) teammate Antoine Griezmann would still be at optimum age by the time the likes of Suarez finally call it a day at the zenith of European football, and as a front pairing, they could be utterly lethal. In turn, Neymar would redeem himself in the eyes of the Barcelona faithful, and show that he truly cares for the club, having merely made a very human error in joining PSG.
- Real Madrid Link a Gauge for Improvement
Real Madrid make just as much of a case for Neymar’s signature though, and if the man himself wants to show that he has in fact improved since joining PSG, this would be the club of choice.
To say there was room for improvement at the Bernabeu at the beginning of summer would be an understatement. As far as the ‘Galacticos’ are concerned, a third-place finish – below city rivals Atletico – is beneath contempt, and the club has reacted accordingly, most notably snatching Eden Hazard from Chelsea in a bid to restore the attacking setup’s once-unplayable nature.
Playing alongside Hazard, Neymar could not fail to help Real Madrid drastically reduce – if not overturn – the 19-point deficit behind Barcelona with which they ended 2018/19. Furthermore, with Gareth Bale resisting a move to China recently, and vowing only to move if a top European club courts him, the for-now hypothetical sight of Neymar and Bale on opposite flanks is a potential show-stopper.
Regardless of skill, however, it is never easy to overturn a 19-point deficit inside a mere year. Thus, if he accounted for a majority of that deficit, then his reputation as a proper champion would improve drastically. For now, however, the question of whether or not he has improved during his time at PSG remains purely a matter of opinion.
- Looking ahead to 2022
If nothing else, a move for Neymar would show that he is still a sellable asset as a man approaching his late 20s. Right now, it is not hard to imagine Neymar five years from now, very much on the wrong side of 30, drenched in Ligue 1 trophies, but without any further Champions League winners medal and still no World Cup winners’ medal.
Given that domestic action cannot ever hope to prepare PSG for the nature of the Champions League, this scenario is a realistic one if Neymar fails to take the initiative within the next fortnight. In turn, the sense of stagnation at PSG could only affect his international career for the worse, and act as a bar to World Cup glory in 2022.
That edition will, of course, mark the twentieth anniversary of Brazil’s last win in the grand competition. He may be too old for an appearance at United 2026, and so, if Neymar wants to be seen as equal to legends such as Pele and Ronaldinho, he will return to La Liga long before the end of August.
Only God (or Kylian Mbappe) can save him if he doesn’t…