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PSG. Neymar, strokes of genius to injuries: five years after his arrival, a mixed record

Thursday August 3, 2017, around 8:10 p.m. The sports press, in France and around the world, is categorical: Neymar will leave FC Barcelona and land at Paris Saint-Germain, on the eve of the start of the Ligue 1 season. More than a signature, the arrival of the Brazilian is a tsunami that goes beyond the borders of football. A club is able to pay 222 million to attract the services of a player, an amount still unequaled at the present time. A first tweet in the Brazilian colors of Paris Saint-Germain will come later to increase the frenzy, before an official announcement in the evening, at 9:46 p.m.

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The Parisian club will even authorize a new post, a few minutes later, accompanied by the mention “Firmized” (he signs). Like a snub to the enigmatic “Se queda” (he remains) of Barcelona’s Gerard Pique posted on July 23 of the same year, communicating through a selfie with his teammate that no transfer to Paris was on the agenda.

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The media madness initiated by the first rumors in mid-July, recorded by FC Barcelona the day before via a communicated indicating the player’s initial intentions, ends on August 3.

An immediate thunderbolt in Ligue 1

The tour de force of PSG is total: by paying the 222 million euros release clause, then by reaching an agreement with the representatives of the player who are his father Neymar Sr and the influential agent Pini Zahavi, the Ile-de-France club ratifies the coming from one of the very best players in the world, who was his executioner a few months earlier during the reassembled in the Champions League (4-0, 6-1).

In total, the operation amounts to almost 500 million euros – according to data published by the Spanish daily El Mundo in 2021 -, including the player’s gross remuneration, as well as an “ethics bonus” paid monthly. The Spanish newspaper will headline: “The contract that dynamited the financial balance of football”.

Neymar’s first hours at Paris Saint-Germain quickly made people forget these exorbitant amounts, despite a slight extra-sporting excitement linked to the vertigo of the sums involved. All of Paris is panicking for its new star, from the media to the supporters. His presentation, before the first Paris match against Amiens for which he is not qualified, takes place in an atmosphere of total jubilation. The number 10 jersey is torn off, and especially the “outside” version in yellow, reminiscent of the auriverde tunic of the Seleçao (of which Neymar regularly wears the captain’s armband).

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Until the Eiffel Tower itself lights up in the colors of the city club, serving as a dream setting to immortalize a little more the very real transfer of the neo-Parisian.

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His first match with PSG takes place on Sunday August 13, at the end of the 2e day, on the occasion of a Guingamp – Paris Saint-Germain. 400 accreditation requests for only 92 places in the press gallery, an attendance record exceeded in Roudourou (18,378 spectators), and a gala Neymar.

At the origin of the first goal after a pressing on the former Parisian Jordan Ikoko (scorer against his side), the player trained at Santos then treats Edinson Cavani with a superb assist in depth, before registering his name himself on the score sheet, well shifted by the Uruguayan. More than his decisive actions, the new star of Ligue 1 displayed a dazzling ease, putting in the background, even for the Guingamp public, this dry setback (0-3).

photo neymar celebrates his first goal in a psg jersey on august 13, 2017 on the lawn of guingamp (0-3).  © photo: jean-sebastien evrard / afp

Neymar celebrates his first goal in the jersey of PSG, August 13, 2017 on the lawn of Guingamp (0-3). © Photo: JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD / AFP

In the Champions League, a mixed impact

The following performances by the Brazilian, over the following weeks, are riding on the same enthusiasm. At the end of September, the one who has only played eight matches with PSG has already scored eight goals and provided seven assists.

The first stoppage surfaced on October 22: for his first Classic against Olympique de Marseille, Neymar scored but received two yellow cards at the end of the game (85 ‘, 87’), after being guilty of angry gestures on Morgan Sanson and Lucas Ocampos. If Paris will rely on a free kick from Edinson Cavani to avoid defeat (2-2), Neymar shows signs of frustration for the first time, an attitude that will alter part of his future performance.

In the Champions League, he concludes the group stage with six goals scored. But at the stage of the round of 16, the man recruited to help Paris Saint-Germain integrate the last four of the Champions League lacked inspiration during the first leg against Real Madrid (3-1). Without knowing that he would not play the return match, his season having ended a few days earlier on a stretcher, in tears, against Olympique de Marseille. Operated for a metatarsal crack, he will attend from Brazil the elimination of his team against Madrid (3-1, 1-2), and will not play again until the end of the season.

photo neymar missed the last sixteen matches of the 2017-2018 season of paris saint-germain, after an injury contracted against the olympic of marseille on February 25, 2018. © photo: geoffroy van der hasselt / afp

Neymar missed the last sixteen games of the 2017-2018 season for Paris Saint-Germain, after an injury contracted against Olympique de Marseille on February 25, 2018. © Photo: GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

Elected best player in Ligue 1 despite his 20 games played (for 19 goals and 13 assists), Neymar does not imagine, at this time, that this 2017-2018 exercise will undoubtedly remain as the most successful, for him, under the Parisian jersey. He will again miss the capital deadline of the Champions League in the spring because of an injury, leaving his partners to suffer a new humiliation against Manchester United (0-2, 1-3).

In 2020, however, he is one of the main architects of the route to the first Champions League final in the history of PSG. Scorer in the first leg and return in the round of 16 against Borussia Dortmund, he allowed Marquinhos to equalize against Atalanta in the quarter-finals, then delivered a new assist to Angel Di Maria in the semi-finals against Leipzig. . In the final, Neymar is perhaps the least good on the other hand: by losing almost half of the balls he had between his feet (27/57), the Brazilian does not help his team to gain the upper hand on a Powerful Bayern.

READ ALSO. PSG. Neymar has only played one out of two games since joining the club in 2017

The following year, the same pattern repeated itself: sparkling against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals, even though his team was less dominating during the double confrontation, Neymar missed his meeting in the semi-finals against Manchester City, locked up in a nonchalant attitude, often head down, which earned him too many ball losses. Last season, he scored no goals in the six games he took part in. If he delivered the two assists of the only two Parisian achievements against Real Madrid (1-0, 3-1), the Brazilian has never been able to display his kidney stroke so devastating, that only Kylian Mbappé now seems able to offer in the workforce.

Neymar, such a frustrating genius

In France, Neymar was able to expand his record: four times French champion (2018, 2019, 2020, 2022), the native of Mogi das Cruzes also won the Coupe de France (2018, 2020, 2021), the Coupe de la League (2018, 2020) and the Champions Trophy (2018, 2020, 2022). If he has never played more than 22 matches in a season in Ligue 1 (in 2021-2022), Neymar was only absent from the championship team last season.

Despite his only 92 matches played in five seasons, the PSG striker did not fail to delight Parisian supporters on French lawns. His best game is perhaps an 8-0 against Dijon in 2018, during which he scored 4 goals and delivered 2 assists. Beyond the statistics, many Ligue 1 defenders have been tormented by his technical prowess. Despite everything, several escapades have come to tarnish, over the years, the passage of the Brazilian in the capital. From quarrels with Edinson Cavani over penalties, to criticism of his lifestyle, Neymar’s case has often been at the heart of controversy.

READ ALSO. Neymar. Accused of corruption and fraud, the PSG star will be tried in October

In 2019, UEFA sanctioned and suspended him for three matches for criticism of the refereeing of PSG – Manchester United, a few months before the FFF did the same for having slapped a Stade Rennais supporter during the Cup final of France. The same year, rumors around a potential return to FC Barcelona lead him to be disliked by part of the Parisian public. This summer, the possibility of a departure, possibly instigated by Paris Saint-Germain themselves, resurfaced. But according to his performance during the Champions Trophy against FC Nantes (4-0), Neymar seems to be back with excellent intentions on the pitch. To perhaps, finally, register permanently as a legend of Paris Saint-Germain.

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