It remains a bit hard to believe, even over a month after he was introduced, that Neymar Da Silva Jr. is a Paris Saint-Germain player. After all, no top player, especially a player universally regarded as top five or even top three in the world, would leave Barcelona, the mighty Barcelona, before reaching his prime right?
This is a reality that many, including his old club’s directors, refuse to fully accept, yet it happened for a simply ridiculous amount of money that appeared impossible to pay. It’s also a reality that PSG fans are still appear a bit surprised, but totally overjoyed with and considering his ten goal contributions in six games across all competitions already plus a bag of audacious tricks to boot, he’s already endeared himself well to Parisians.
— François (@fnwizu) August 25, 2017
Let’s get something straight off top. Nothing that he does in Ligue 1 really matters. PSG don’t need him to win a French league title they had won four years running prior to Monaco’s brilliance last season, taking away Monaco wunderkind Kylian Mbappé on loan – UEFA’s still raising their eyes at that one – just for good measure.
This isn’t even really about team accolades either. Neymar has already won every major team trophy there is to win in the game and could still be winning those with Barcelona if he decided to stay. Given the super team PSG has assembled and the resources their Qatari ownership group have, those major honours are likely to come their way. Chances of finally exorcising their Champions League demons are greater than before when you consider that two-time defending champs, Real Madrid are in transition, as are Bayern Munich. Barcelona, without Neymar and the guy who they spent more than half of his transfer fee on to replace him, Ousmane Dembélé, due to a torn thigh muscle, are a team in flux. And until the top English teams show they’ve got the technical ability and intestinal fortitude for this level again, it’s too early say any of them are serious contenders to win it.
The Brazilian superstar’s motive for leaving the Camp Nou for the Parc Des Princes comes down to one thing. Ego. An ego that won’t allow him to play second fiddle any more to arguably the greatest player of all-time, Lionel Messi, showing a deep ambition as well as exposing his level of self-absorption. His move mirrors that of NBA star and fellow 25-year-old, Kyrie Irving, who decided this summer he no longer wanted to be in the shadow of another all-time great, LeBron James, with a desire to be the main guy on a title contending team while achieving the personal accolades he believes his game warrants. While the relationship between Neymar and Messi seems far less acrimonious than that of Kyrie and LeBron, it’s clear Neymar was very eager to be in the starring role rather than be a glamourous supporting act. He’s made no secret of his goal to win the Ballon D’or, an award that’s nothing more than a glorified popularity contest to most, but is treated as a huge deal in Brazil. Like Ronaldinho and Ronaldo Nazario de Lima before him, if he is truly going be recognised in the same light as those legends and truly unlock the potential most Brazilians believe he’s had since his teenage years, he must win this award. He knew his chances of winning it at Barcelona weren’t great with Messi showing no signs of slowing down. He was not one to wait his turn in order to finally get the main stage he’d been seeking and, once PSG activated his £198 million release clause, this was his chance to get his shine and get paid handsomely doing it, regardless of his laughable claims that he didn’t move for the money.