Talking Soccer: PSG is not paradise for Neymar

Paris Saint Germain's Kylian Mbappe, right, reacts with Neymar after he scored the second goal against Lyon during their French League One soccer match between PSG and Olympique Lyon at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

When Neymar decided to move to Paris Saint-Germain, many argued he would become what he was always meant to be. The leader of a team, the best man, the most beloved player on his team. Many argued that he was previously being overshadowed by Lionel Messi, a player treated as a god by Barcelona fans.

Neymar always had to play on the wing - primarily because Messi occupied the space he usually occupies for Brazil and where most of the playmaking happens in Barcelona.

On his decision to move, Neymar said he listened to his heart and it told him playing for PSG would make him happier and he wanted that more than anything.

Just a month after the transfer was announced, however, there is already trouble in paradise for Neymar in the French capital. Teammates are hurt by Nasser Al-Khelaifi’s, the club president, action and PSG manager Unai Emery was left trying to manage some big egos in a club full of soccer’s biggest stars.

It all started when a feud developed between Neymar and Cavani over who would shoot the penalty against Olympique Lyon. It was the tip of the iceberg that would show this team’s chemistry falling apart.

According to a story from El Pais of Spain, Al-Khelaifi tried to quiet the waters by offering Cavani more money to let Neymar take the penalties. Cavani declined and argued that he had been on the team longer and is one of the captains. Therefore, he deserves the respect and honor of kicking the penalties.

On the other side, Al-Khelaifi tried to persuade Neymar to let the Uruguayan striker kick the penalties, assuring him he was still the king of Paris. Neymar also declined. Nevertheless, the drama continued when Neymar was taken off the team sheet for Saturday’s game against Montepellier, which PSG was held scoreless in a 0-0 tie.

The story continued, with many players in the locker room feeling that PSG’s owner and sporting director treated them like old goods. After UEFA threatened to sanction PSG for breaking financial play, Al-Khelaifi and other administrators contacted players to let them know they would be put in the transfer window to generate enough revenue to balance their bank accounts after the 222 million euros PSG spent for the 25-year-old Neymar.

Such actions by the president hurt the players who believe Neymar doesn’t respect them, yet Al-Khelaifi tried to spread a message of family after saying to those players they wouldn’t be sold.

Now, Neymar is without escape, alone in a sea of players who resent him. Al-Khelaifi cannot control the players and its goal of becoming the best team in Europe might be at risk because of his greed. And Emery will now have to work harder to make the players work together when they aren’t friends. Many point to the fact that Neymar unfollowed Cavani on Instagram as a sign of the broken bond.

PSG, with some of the best players in the world, might breakup despite an attempt to be the best and most cohesive team in the world. And for Neymar, it seems like loneliness in Paris might be his only option.


Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at daniela.marulanda@uconn.edu.