Unhappy, useless and criticized. Soccer Watching the Fall of a Superstar
Neymar gained international fame before he moved to Europe. The prodigy from Santos, Pele’s club, was compared to the King of Football himself and cautiously remarked that Little Ney has a chance even to surpass the Great One. It did not take long for the top clubs of the Old World to fight for the “right of the first contract” with the Brazilian genius, in the final of the Neymar battle, as expected, Real Madrid and Barcelona came together, and although Madrid had longstanding ties with the forward’s entourage, the Catalans beat their eternal rival in the race for the signature of the future soccer star.
Neymar ended up as an apprentice in the wizarding team, winning the Champions League in his first season with Barça, and racking up individual stats in the following campaigns. The most desperate of the local faithful even stuttered that Neymar was becoming more important to Barcelona than Messi. There was no stopping the flow of one-syllable opinions about the future best soccer player in the world and Ballon d’Or winner. We were assured that Neymar would take the soccer throne as soon as the two kings got tired of competing.
The prince who never became king
An important benchmark in Neymar’s career was the move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for 222 million euros. Some said that the Brazilian was chasing the money, while others insisted that he had made the most important step. Stepped out of Messi’s shadow to become the best in the world. But the truth is that since moving to PSG, Neymar has established himself as a Parisian dandy with huge salaries and an often dismissive attitude toward work.
Endless parties and a carnival lifestyle led to health problems, in turn injuries often relieved Neymar from matches and training for the sake of binge drinking. A vicious circle. The Brazilian was called the leader of PSG by inertia, he occasionally shone with technique and skill, but quickly ceased to be the most important and influential even in his team, not to mention world domination.
The truth is that over the past four years, Neymar, if judged not by the magnitude of his talent, but by his effectiveness over long stretches (seasons, years), has not even made the short list of the best players on the planet, let alone a place at the head of that table. Messi and Ronaldo remained among the best, joined by Modric, Lewandowski, van Dijk, De Bruyne, Salah, Benzema, Kante and Mbappe. If you’re not a persofan of the Brazilian, it’s unlikely to include him in the top 10 players on the planet of the last five years.
Neymar hit bottom in the 2021/22 season
In the summer of 2021, Paris Saint-Germain brought in Lionel Messi and kept Kylian Mbappe in Paris. The attacking trio Messi-Neymar-Mbappé was supposed to be the best in the world, but is not even the best in the French championship. The responsibility should be personal, and if we are talking about Neymar, the Brazilian is having a failing season. Even a trivial statistic is enough to understand it: Neymar has 5+5 in 21 games for PSG.
Well, yes, he provided one assists to Mbappe in each match of the 1/8 finals of the Champions League against Real Madrid, but, firstly, it was not enough for the overall victory, and secondly, it is rare to see Neymar so involved in the game. In February, the Brazilian celebrated his 30th birthday, he gave all the hopes he could, but he managed to fulfill only part of them. And not completely. Pele’s words from two years ago leave no doubt that the conclusions about Neymar are correct:
It’s hard to side with Neymar after what he does besides soccer. I talked to him and reminded him of his professionalism. I tried to explain to him that his talent is a gift from God, but he dismisses it by taking soccer so lightly. I began to have doubts about Neymar’s true class. I talked to him about it several times, but I never could explain it. There is some confusion in his life and in his head, because of this people forget that he is a great player, one of the best in the world.
The worst period of Neymar’s career
The King of Football never got through to his stubborn compatriot. Neymar then disagreed with Pele, and answered the legend not meekly, but boldly:
I respect Pele, but I cannot agree with him. As soon as you stop winning, they start criticizing you. Today everyone likes to criticize me, because it’s Neymar.
Today we can see that Neymar’s career has followed the trajectory typical of players of this type: professionals maintain a level over the years, and some even improve at a solid age (there are examples of Ronaldo, Lewandowski, Modric), while players used to ride out on the bare talent, at the turn of 30 years going through a critical moment. Before Neymar, Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard, who also had other priorities, took this path.
Is the point of no return passed?
The bubble of Neymar’s greatness burst overnight. The PSG fans were tired of his antics and inconsistencies, and as a result, the Brazilian had completely collapsed. Neymar clearly was not ready for such fierce criticism, and this situation is very similar to the point of no return, which the forward has already passed at the Parc de Prince. In France they write that Neymar does not seem interested in his work, appears in training inappropriately and continues to drown his reputation.
And yes, we’re still talking about a player with a weekly salary of 4 million euros. The current PSG does not look like a club that can make a player happy with anything other than money, and there is no line of people wanting to bail Neymar and the French club out of a mutually abusive relationship, because his contract with PSG runs until 2025 with an option to extend for another season. Neymar’s life and career are ruled by passions and money, unless he decides to change that drastically, he has no future in soccer.