Neymar‘s stay at Paris Saint-Germain has not gone as planned since his arrival in 2017. There have been highlights, like the Brazilian international’s spectacular form when the French giants advanced to the 2020 UEFA Champions League final. Still, they have been few and far between.
Neymar, now 30, has had a five-year stay in Paris hampered by injuries and controversy. The South American’s lifestyle choices have been frequently questioned and not to the satisfaction of Les Parisiens’ leadership as the Qatari-backed enterprise stalls in pursuit of continental success.
PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi recently promised substantial changes to the capital club’s structure and lavishly built team. Part of his remarks implied that Neymar might be given the door if he was not committed to the new approach.
“I can tell you that we expect all players to accomplish far better than they did last season. They must all be at their peak performance. The goal for next season is clear: go at 200 per cent every day, give everything for the jersey, offer the maximum, and see what happens. We must regain our humility.” the Qatari manager told Le Parisien.
“You must be disciplined on and off the field, and anyone who wants to stay in their comfort zone and not fight will be pushed aside. We want players who are happy to represent PSG and who are ready to battle.” Al-Khelaifi continued when questioned about the No. 10.
For Neymar, the problem has always been getting on the pitch. In any of his PSG seasons, he has never played more than 2000 domestic league minutes. In fact, his 22 appearances totalling 1861 minutes in the 2021/22 season were both career highs for him with Les Parisiens. Those minutes reveal some of his poorest underlying figures in Paris, with 0.53 anticipated goals (xG) per 90 minutes and 0.27 expected assists (xA) per 90 minutes – his lowest totals with PSG. The arrival of Lionel Messi may have something to do with Neymar’s dropping stats. The Brazilian’s productivity decreased instead of the predicted surge to lift all-superstar ships. Mbappe’s complete domination and ability to boost PSG in games on his own further isolated Neymar.
After a contract extension last year, Neymar is no longer essential to PSG’s future. The Ligue 1 champions are ready to sanction his exit as head coach Mauricio Pochettino and sports director Leonardo depart.
Luis Campos is now putting together the squad. OGC Nice’s Christophe Galtier is expected to take over for Pochettino once the legalities of the Argentine’s departure are finalised. The former AS Monaco and Lille OSC talent scout’s vision for the future does not necessarily include the Brazilian superstar.
Kylian Mbappe has been the focal centre of PSG’s ambition after electing to extend his previous contract at Parc des Princes, reflecting the changes on and off the field regarding the France international’s undeniable talismanic effect.
Worry arose when Neymar stated at the end of 2021 that the FIFA World Cup in Qatar would likely be his last for Brazil later this year. His inability to overcome the demands of being a top-level soccer player coincided with a diminishing form on the field.
The former Barcelona star, who cost $233 million when he came in 2017, has yet to regain his best Parisien form from two years ago. Still, PSG understands that few teams can afford to combine a transfer fee with his hefty contract.
Reduced standing within this new club incarnation may urge Neymar to seek new employment. It has been obvious to him that he is no longer the project’s figurehead. But failing to find a new home may result in a replay of 2019 when Barca sought to entice him back.
Neymar won back the supporters with some stunning performances. He stayed relatively injury-free as PSG flourished under Thomas Tuchel, reaching the Champions League final in 2020 before things soured between the German and the club.
There is no apparent contender to take Neymar off PSG’s hands. Still, Galtier’s formal presence in the city might either give him another chance at atonement or ultimately indicate that it is time for all sides to move on.