Connor's Corner: Neymar Jr - Genius or Stupidity?
With Neymar Jr completing his world record fee to Paris Saint Germain last night, many comments online that I viewed were all of a similar nature – “what a waste of talent”, “off he goes to waste his career”, “hope he enjoys his retirement”. With the French Ligue 1 viewed as a weak league by many and an almost one-horse race, (bar PSG having a completely off season like last season) it may be hard to disagree with the majority here.
PSG have won the League and the French Cup 4 out of the last 5 years and with any other team who start to become recognisable being poached for their best players each year, it’s hard to see this dominance stopping. To add to this, which almost makes it worse, Neymar has come from arguably the greatest team, the most successful team and the deadliest strike force in the world right now. Apart from the fact that he is now rumoured to be making a staggering £600,000 a week, it could be hard to see why Neymar would want to leave the glitz and the glamour of playing with Messi and Co at Barcelona and having a huge chance of winning major silverware every year.
For me, this move is genius; Neymar would not have made this move lightly. There have been reports every year for a move from PSG for Neymar, Messi or Ronaldo and it always seemed like the media had made a story out of nothing. PSG never really voiced any opinions on this, but it always felt like if anyone could lure these three away from their teams, it would be them. Initially I did expect it to be Messi or Ronaldo to make the move; both are now in their 30’s and a new challenge could well make sense for two players who have won everything at club level. Neymar would then be the heir to the throne over in Spain.
However; the more I think about this Neymar deal, the more I agree with him for making the move. Since joining Barcelona back in 2013 at the age of 21, Neymar Jr has always been on the cusp of being in the same bracket of Messi and Ronaldo, but has never quite managed to break the barrier. Granted he has not scored as many goals and assists, but maybe Neymar didn’t get the recognition he deserved at Barcelona. Maybe being in the shadow of arguably the greatest player in the world didn’t bring out the best in him. Maybe being in the shadow of a phenom in Ronaldo at your arch rival didn’t bring out the best in him. Maybe the rivalry created by the media of Messi v Ronaldo was disheartening and disrespectful to Neymar.
Let’s not forget, Neymar Jr is the captain of Brazil and has been since the age of 24, he almost single handily led his country to World Cup glory in his own country before he was savagely injured which completely took the life out of the whole of Brazil before the Germany mauling. This is a man who has scored 52 goals in 77 international games, an absolute mind-boggling stat in this day and age, especially as the South American teams he would have played more often than not have rapidly improved and are among some of the best in the world right now. If you were a man who had done this for your country whilst being the main man, would you not feel you have the right to be the main man at your club? Would you not feel that you’ve backed up your ability to lead a team? Would you not feel you could break boundaries at club level?
At PSG, Neymar gets the chance to become the main man, the star he always wanted to be. There are star players at PSG, but none on his level. Not only does he become the star man, but he gets to set himself some new goals, both individually and on a team basis. Neymar won La Liga, the Copa Del Rey, the Champions league and everything a player could possibly win on a club basis. At PSG, he has the chance to win new silverware, whilst also having the chance to lead this team to the Champions League glory both they and their owners so desperately crave. Neymar is that star player to take them to that new level that they have been missing and if he were to lead them to Champions League glory, it really would be two fingers up to Barcelona and would almost certainly take him to what I believe he personally desperately craves as well as the above… the Ballon D’or.
Being free from the reigns of Messi and Ronaldo, Neymar for me now really has the chance to win the Balon D’or. With Messi and Ronaldo still hitting phenomenal figures in terms of goals each year, Messi and Ronaldo have managed to adapt their games to still score goals without the pace that they are gradually losing. However, goals simply won’t win you the award now, you must win the Champions League or one of the big International tournaments. With Neymar now in a team that is strong enough to win the Champions League and leading Brazil into the World Cup next summer, don’t be surprised to see him win it a lot sooner than he would have done at Barcelona, had he won it there at all. With Messi still likely to be challenging for the award for another 3-4 years, Neymar would then be 28/29 if he were to have stayed at Barcelona and with players like Mbappe and Pogba hitting their peaks at that time, it would really put pressure on Neymar to win the award. Moving now, really does give him those extra years to win it.
Sometimes players need to be selfish in their careers and many people may believe this is selfish from a financial point of view. For top, top level footballers who crave to be the best like Neymar, it’s much more than that. This is far from a safe move that the general public seem to believe, its far more dangerous, risky and brave than the naked eye sees. It’s clear to see Neymar wants to be the best in the world. This GENIUS and selfish move is really his best opportunity for him to become this.