It’s been two years…just two years…since we celebrated Neymar’s ground-breaking move from Barcelona to PSG. Groundbreaking…because PSG broke everything (including the ground) to get this deal done. Not sure Barcelona believed anyone could pay 200 million pounds for…anyone. PSG believed otherwise and transformed the dynamics of the transfer market forever. After 2 years, it seems Barcelona would like to have him back. It’s a shame because Neymar had a real shot at becoming a football great…away from Messi and Ronaldo…but he failed without even trying and now he’s back to the shadow he thought he could walk away from: Messi.
Neymar is not your regular football player. He isn’t. As a kid, people saw him play, skipped the Robinho and Ronaldo comparisons and went straight for ‘The Next Pele’ tag. By the time he left his teens, he had over a hundred goals for Santos and some trophies as well. He had endorsement deals and was a major global superstar…and this was before he even stepped out of Brazil. By the time he showed up at Barcelona, he was likened to other Brazilians that had made themselves legends at the Camp Nou; Ronaldo, Rivaldo, and Ronaldinho. He was surrounded by the best talent around, including the Greatest Player in Barcelona’s History, Lionel Messi. By 2015, he had won every major trophy at club level; including the UEFA Champions League. He was also one-third of the fabulous MSN (Messi-Suarez-Neymar) trio that was ripping Europe apart. The future was bright…till he realized that he could only win the Ballon D’Or if he was away from Messi. Stay at Barcelona and he keeps helping the Argentine to win personal accolades… or he leaves and wins his own accolades. The PSG move gave him the chance to do the latter.
Like Zlatan before him, he was the biggest superstar in a star-studded PSG squad. Didn’t matter who the French club brought in, no one was bigger than Neymar. The platform was there. All that was left was the performances that would launch him into the Football Hall of Fame. He didn’t need to sit on Messi’s table anymore. He had his own table. He could go up against the existing power of Messi and Ronaldo. Here was the chance to break that duopoly. He was the Chosen One for that.
What followed was the most disappointing 24 months you could possibly expect from a player with his talent. He scored goals and enjoyed loads of good spells in the French Ligue 1 (nothing special but I have to add it anyway). He won trophies too…in France (again…nothing special but I have to add it anyway). Like it was at Barcelona, he was one-third of the free-scoring trio of himself, Cavani, and the boy-wonder Mbappe. After dominating the home turf (as usual), European glory was all that was left to seal legendary status.
Get this: In the last two seasons, Neymar has been injured around the crunch time of the season. Once January comes around, you just know he’s likely to pick up an injury that rules him out of the club’s Champions League participation. By the time he’s back, the team has been knocked out of Europe so he just helps to round up the domestic trophies (which would have happened without him anyway but let’s still add it). Now, a third chance has come for him to assume the spot at the top that we’ve been waiting for him to take…and he has chosen to crawl back to the place he needed to break from. That smacks of cowardice, and only justifies the notion that he was NEVER good enough to be considered a great footballer. Even Zlatan didn’t give up like this. I’m embarrassed on Neymar’s behalf because I believed he was on the cusp of something special.
The Great Brazilian Ronaldo should have been the greatest in the history of the sport, but he was hindered by heartbreaking injuries. Despite it all, he never gave up. He still went out there and did it his way. 3 Ballon D’Ors tell the story. Neymar had just 2 seasons out of his comfort zone and he’s done. He’s done. There’s talk of Mbappe being the main man at PSG now and not him. Hey! Mbappe is always available for crunch time. That’s why he’s the main man. Messi probably thought his place as the main man was lost once Neymar showed up but that only made him step up his game. Neymar clearly doesn’t have that mentality. Walking back to Barcelona labels him an expensive flop who couldn’t cut on his own…and a coward.