Sunday, August 14, 2022

Neymar transfer: Why PSG could try to unload Brazilian superstar after securing Kylian Mbappe’s return

Since his 2017 arrival, Neymar’s time with Paris Saint-Germain has not gone according to plan. There have been high points such as the Brazil international’s scintillating form as the French giants reached the 2020 UEFA Champions League final, but those peaks have been few and far between.

Neymar, now 30, has seen his five-year spell in Paris punctuated by injuries and controversy with the South American’s lifestyle choice regularly criticized and not to the liking of Les Parisiens’ leadership as the Qatari-backed project continues to stall in search of continental success.

PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi recently announced sweeping changes to the capital club’s structure and lavishly assembled squad and part of those comments hinted that Neymar would be shown the door if he was not committed to the new direction.

“I can tell you that we expect all of the players to do more than last season — much more,” the Qatari boss told Le Parisien. “They must all be at 100%. The objective for next season is clear and that is to go at 200% each day, give everything for the jersey, give the maximum and see the results. We must become humble again.

“You must be disciplined on and off the pitch and whoever wants to stay in their comfort zone and not fight will be cast aside,” added Al-Khelaifi pointedly when asked about the No. 10. “We want players proud to represent PSG and ready to fight.”

The struggle for Neymar has always been getting out on the field. He has never played more than 2000 domestic league minutes across any of his PSG seasons. In fact, his 2021/22 campaign total of 22 appearances totaling 1861 minutes were both career highs of his with Les Parisiens. However, those minutes expose some of his worst underlying numbers so far in Paris with 0.53 expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes and 0.27 expected assists (xA) per 90 — his lowest totals with PSG. The arrival of Lionel Messi to great fanfare might have something to do with Neymar’s declining stats as the Brazilian’s production dipped instead of the rise to lift all superstar ships which was expected of the Argentine. Mbappe’s utter dominance and ability to singlehandedly lift PSG in games further marginalized Neymar.

Potentially under contract until 2027 after last year’s extension, Neymar is no longer integral to PSG’s future and the Ligue 1 champions are now prepared to sanction his departure as head coach Mauricio Pochettino and sporting director Leonardo also make way.

Luis Campos is now structuring the squad with OGC Nice’s Christophe Galtier expected to replace Pochettino once the legalities of the Argentine’s exit are finalized and the former AS Monaco and Lille OSC talent spotter’s vision for the future does not necessarily include the Brazilian superstar.

Kylian Mbappe is now the focal point of PSG’s project after opting to stay on at Parc des Princes having run his previous contract close to its end point and this reflects the changes on and off the pitch in terms of the France international’s undisputed talismanic influence.

Worry set in when Neymar declared towards the end of 2021 that the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year will likely be his last for Brazil because of his struggle to endure the challenges of being a top-level soccer player as it correlated with declining form on the pitch.

The former Barcelona man who cost $233 million when he arrived back in 2017 is yet to rediscover his best Parisien form from two years ago but there is equally a recognition at PSG that few clubs, if any, can afford to combine a transfer fee with his exorbitant salary.

Reduced status within this new iteration of the club could persuade Neymar to seek a new employer as it has been made clear to him that he is no longer the figurehead of this project, but failure to identify a new landing spot could also lead to a repeat of 2019 when Barca tried to lure him back.

Neymar won the fans back over with some dazzling displays and he remained reasonably injury-free as PSG excelled under Thomas Tuchel and reached the Champions League final in 2020 before things turned sour between the German and the club.

A lot can change during a transfer window and there is no clear candidate to take Neymar off PSG’s hands at this time, but Galtier’s official arrival in the capital could either offer him another shot at redemption or finally confirm that it is time for all parties to move on.

Related articles

Comments

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share article

Latest articles

Newsletter

Subscribe to stay updated.