It has now been five years since Neymar Jr settled in Paris to join PSG, against the sum of 222 million euros. Definitely the transfer of the century. More
Neymar blows out his fifth candle
Five years. Five years that Paris Saint-Germain has Neymar in its ranks. As much time as the Brazilian international dances and has fun (not always) on the lawns of Ligue 1. It was at the end of a dantesque soap opera that the number 11 of FC Barcelona decided to leave Catalonia to take up a new challenge. PSG, for its part, paid 222 million euros – the amount of its release clause – for the one whom Nasser al-Khelaïfi considered “the best player in the world”.
It must be said that the Brazilian remained on a good season with Barça, and in particular on a high-flying performance in the Champions League against this same Paris Saint-Germain. Everyone then agreed that the comeback was Neymar. It was therefore at the age of 25 that landed at the Parc des Princes. To take up a new challenge, that of taking PSG to the roof of Europe, as he had done two years earlier with Barça.
Smashing debut before injuries
Neymar in Ligue 1. Yes, it was at Guingamp that the Brazilian had made his big debut, and had put on a big show. A goal and an assist, just that. For his big first at the Park, Neymar had done even better against the TFC during the big Parisian victory (6-2). Two goals, two assists, including an absolute masterpiece to win the hearts of the fans a little more.
Except that generally, the beginnings often go well. It’s after that it gets complicated. And the Brazilian learned it the hard way. Injured in the ankle against Olympique de Marseille a few days before the crucial match against Real Madrid in the round of 16, Neymar finally missed the meeting. The curse will be repeated in 2019, before the return match against Manchester United and a new comeback suffered by the Parisians. In October 2019, the Brazilian had only played 50% of the matches played by PSG. A statistic that hurts.
Desires of departure and Final 8
And a statistic that has also earned him a lot of criticism from Parisian supporters. And for good reason. In the summer of 2019, Neymar is very close to returning to Barça, and does not hide his desire to leave. Condemned to stay, he was jeered and insulted at the Parc des Princes on his return before responding with a sublime return to give victory to his people against Strasbourg. The number 10 himself admitted having wanted to leave before promising to give everything for the red and blue jersey.
And while COVID dampened Parisian enthusiasm, it was in the summer of 2020 that PSG came very close to realizing their dream of lifting the Champions League, with Thomas Tuchel. After a great Final 8, Paris and Neymar finally fell in the final against Bayern Munich. But the dream was there, palpable, almost visible in front of them. A sign, no doubt, that PSG was on the right track.
Parisian until 2027
Especially since next to him evolves the greatest French talent of recent years: Kylian Mbappé. And that to this duo would be added Leo Messi a few months later, in the summer of 2021. But fate is hounding Neymar. His adversaries, too, perhaps. Injured in the snow in Saint-Etienne, the Brazilian is still on the flank for several weeks, and misses the round of 16 first leg of the Champions League against Real Madrid. Not the return, however. And this new express comeback will earn him the whistles of the Parc des Princes during the match after, against the Girondins de Bordeaux.
However, Neymar is used to it and not really disturbed. Pressure has been part of his daily life since a young age, and he knows how to handle it. At 30, he will not change. It will remain as brilliant as it is frustrating, as talented as it is annoying. And if the PSG is no longer really closed to a departure of its player, it seems to him to find little by little his best level. From now on, it is until 2027 that Neymar is linked to PSG. Five years to show that it can still contribute.