Sports

Undermined by his own ambition and restlessness, Neymar’s struggles continue after another bad season

After a failed transfer in the summer and another big injury, people are beginning to wonder if the popular soccer player is worth the headache

Neymar da Silva Santos Jr is filled with regret. After begging for a transfer away from Barcelona, he now believes he made a mistake.

The Brazilian professional soccer player has been with the Paris Saint-Germain soccer club for two years, but after failing to go far into the tournament’s knockout stages against Europe’s elite soccer teams, he spent the summer transfer window pushing for a transfer and even skipped practices to try and persuade the club to let him go. With no release clause in his contract, PSG  would have to accept a bid from Barca and that is highly unlikely since Paris wants over $300 million in money and players.                                  

Neymar, who to this date still has the most expensive player transfer fee in soccer history, is considered one of the world’s most popular players and is without a doubt a top five talent throughout all of Europe. 

He broke out as a star on the streets of Brazil when he was a kid playing street soccer in the city of Sao Vicent. With more and more people talking about the 11-year-old prodigy, Neymar was accepted into Real Madrid’s youth academy but opted to stay in his home country for higher pay, joining the club, Dos Santos, playing for a junior team.                      

The Brazilian quickly developed his skills and signed his first senior contract at Dos Santos eight years later when he was 17 years old. Neymar won Dos Santos player of the year four straight years in a row. He played in 225 games for Dos Santos and scored 136 goals. With one of those goals winning FIFA Goal of the Year. Neymar has the second most Goal-of-the-Year nominations behind Messi. 

With Neymar’s numerous goals and flashy performances, he began to catch the eyes of some of Europe’s best teams. In May 2013 he announced he would join FC Barcelona for $76 million, a team filled with stars such as Messi and Iniesta two of the greatest to ever play the game. 

In the meantime though, Neymar was called up to the Brazillian national team for the 2013 Confederations Cup, which he helped Brazil win, contributing four goals. 

In the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Neymar shined in front of his Brazillian fans, scoring four goals, one assist and receiving two man-of-the-match awards. But he was sent home early after suffering a fractured vertebrae from getting hit in the back with a flying knee, during a quarterfinal win over Colombia. Brazil went on to play against Germany in the semifinals and were embarrassed on home soil with a 7-1 loss with their Neymar-less roster.      

Neymar lived up to his $76 million price tag at Barcelona, scoring and assisting at will. After just four seasons there, Neymar had 193 appearances, 111 goals and 60 assists across all competitions. 

During his best season at the club in 2014-15, he helped form one of the best attacking trios in history. Dubbed “MSN,” the trio consisted of Lionel Messi, a five-time player of the year winner and considered the best player to ever play, Luis Suarez, a Premier League star who also won player of the year and most goals scored in 2013/14, and Neymar. The three players started up front with Messi playing right wing, Neymar on the left and Suarez playing centre forward. They quickly became the best attacking threat by winning the treble in 2014-15: League winner, Copa del Rey winner and Champions League winner. 

Soon after the 2016-17 season, newspapers and reporters began to talk about a potential transfer for the Brazilian. Throughout the summer transfer window there were rumours that Neymar was unhappy because he felt as if he was playing in the shadow of Lionel Messi instead of being the main star of the team. Neymar thought he could be the next Messi, one of the greats, but also felt he couldn’t do that playing alongside him. Everyone knew that Messi was always better than Neymar and Barca would never chose the Brazilian over Messi, so Neymar began to look into a move away from the club. To try and make the move go through Neymar’s managers apparently leaked stories and talked to the media to make sure everyone knew that the player wanted to leave. 

Shortly after pre-season ended, Paris Saint Germain paid the full £198 million release clause and brought Neymar to Paris. At the time the record transfer fee was £89.3 million so a 200+ million transfer seemed out of reach for any team. Some didn’t pay attention to the rumors due to the amount of money needed but in early August PSG announced that they had paid the full release clause of £198 million. 

Neymar had ambitions of soaring higher than he ever did at Barcelona. He has played two seasons in Ligue 1 for PSG and has scored 55 goals, along with 33 assists, securing PSG two French championships, two cups and a league cup but never becoming the Champions League winner which is his most desired trophy as many feel there is no competition for PSG in France. 

Neymar left Barcelona to become one of the biggest stars in soccer and win several individual awards. But as competitions went by, despite his accomplishments, the soccer star found his ambitious standards unmet. 

Neymar thought the move to Paris would make him the lone star on the team but then the seam signed Mbappe who broke out as a star alongside Neymar. Now, once again, Neymar wanted out.

The Brazilian had a meeting with PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi about a future switch, but PSG had no interest in letting him go. Neymar skipped the first weeks of training in an attempts to push PSG to allow a transfer to go through.Barcelona reportedly made several bids of over £200 million for Neymar but the transfer window has ended and Neymar remains at PSG. 

Since returning from injury, Neymar has been booed while on the field as the fans feel their superstar forward has betrayed them and PSG fans can sense that the forward doesn’t fully want to be there. PSG management continue to be irritated by the Brazilian but still have him in their plans for the future. Neymar hopes for a transfer in the future but for now, Barcelona and the world are now left wondering if the superstar is worth the money and the headache.

Image Credit: flickr/Alex Fau

 

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