Neymar is playing a waiting game with PSG, but for how much longer?

Neymar is playing a waiting game with PSG, but for how much longer?

Bet365 offer bannerWith Neymar reportedly looking for a move back to La Liga with Barcelona or Madrid, was his move to PSG no more than a cunning ploy for attention as he waits for the end of Ronaldo and Messi?

After years of playing football in the overwhelming shadow of the world’s greatest ever player – Lionel Messi, Brazilian international Neymar Jr. moved onto fresh pastures last summer by signing for Ligue 1 powerhouses Paris Saint-Germain. In doing so the 26-year-old forward, who spent four years at the Nou Camp, scoring 68 goals in 123 appearances, became the worlds most expensive ever player.

The mega-rich French giants paid £198million to secure Neymar’s signature just over a year ago, and since then he’s lit up the French top-flight by scoring 27 goals in just 28 appearances. PSG did not need to sign a player of Neymar’s calibre to challenge for the Ligue 1 title, they win it each season at a canter and would have continued to do so without the Brazilian’s services, due to the sheer lack of contenders able to match their huge financial resources.

PSG signed Neymar to win the Champions League

The reason PSG signed Neymar was purely so that the club could win their first ever Champions League title. For years the Paris-based outfit have been the ‘nearly men’ of European football, knocked out at the quarter-final stage four consecutive times in the previous six seasons, with the last two campaigns seeing them bow out in the Round of 16. Neymar tasted success in Europe’s most prestigious club competition with Barcelona back in 2015, when he helped the Catalans beat Juventus 3-1 to lift the trophy in Berlin.

Neymar scored Barca’s third goal in the 97th minute of that tie, so he knows exactly what it takes to be successful in the Champions League: how to win, how to battle toe-to-toe with Europe’s elite. This is the reason PSG signed Neymar, to drive them on and act as an inspiration to the rest of his team on European nights under the lights against the world’s biggest, strongest, most experienced clubs. They needed a staple signing, someone who would not only grab all the headlines, increase revenue 10-fold through shirt sales and merchandise and raise the profile of their already-colossal entity of a club, but a player who knows how to win both league titles and, most importantly, the Champions League.

Neymar tasted success in the Champions League, winning the tournament in 2015 after beating Juventus in the final.

Messi and Ronaldo would have been considered before Neymar

There’s no doubting that PSG would have considered a move for Lionel Messi before approaching Neymar, but although the Argentinian is undoubtedly the best player to have ever walked the earth, at the age of (at the time) 30, player longevity would have been a worry. Messi would have cost even more than Neymar as well, so realistically a move for the ‘atomic flea’ was not achievable.

Who else? Cristiano Ronaldo’s name would have definitely cropped up in conversation, but, just like Messi, the Portuguese man is now approaching the twilight years of a glistening career, and although you cannot apply the same way of thinking to Ronaldo and Messi as you can to someone like Jon Walters, clubs still have to be realistic when paying out that amount of cash for a player the wrong side of 30. Juventus took the risk a year later, and it’ll probably pay off for them. Messi will continue to, well, Messi for years to come, but at Barcelona – exactly where he belongs.

PSG needed a player who’s situation suited a move away, rather than tempting a player away with an already comfortable situation. Neymar had a reason to leave Barcelona, ever since he joined the club as a bright-eyed 21-year-old, he was always in Lionel Messi’s shadow. No matter how well he performed, due to the sheer consistency of the Barcelona No.10, Neymar would always be playing second fiddle to the Argentinian commander.

Maybe he thought that as the years went by, Messi would start to decline, but he’s just got better, season after season and still continues to. At the age of 25, the time had come for Neymar to look at options away from the Nou Camp. He could have stayed put, of course, but a player of his profile needs to be the star man, the catalyst in a team that wins everything and that simply wasn’t going to happen should he have remained playing beside Messi.

Neymar’s move to France suited both parties

The PSG move was ideal for the Brazilian, not only did it give him endless amounts of publicity, but it also ensured he would be the main man in a side that would dominate the domestic league once again, and seriously start to challenge for the Champions League. Not to mention the money, on his staggering new contract he is earning a reported £530,000 each week after tax, which broken down amounts to just over £3,000 an hour, roughly £50 a minute… yeah.

Last term, in Neymar’s first season at the Parc des Princes, PSG won everything in France – Ligue 1, the Coupe de France, the Coupe de la Ligue & the Trophée des Champions. Impressive? Sure. Deemed a success? Not massively. They once again failed in the Champions League, knocked out by eventual winners Real Madrid in the Round of 16 having been completely outplayed by the vastly more experienced Los Blancos 5-2 on aggregate. Neymar only played the first leg of that tie in Madrid, missing the second through an ill-timed foot injury, though his absence probably didn’t affect the outcome too much following an underwhelming performance at the Bernabéu two weeks prior.

Early signs indicate a similar season for PSG this time around. They’ll dominate the league and domestic cups once more without hesitation, already sitting eight points clear at the top of the pile in Ligue 1 after just 10 games. However following their recent defeat against Liverpool in their Champions League curtain raiser, where although the 3-2 scoreline suggested a tight affair, the performance from the Frenchmen was meek and lacked any real desire, aside from the odd burst of brilliance from teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, who’s late goal almost nicked a point for his side at Anfield.

Neymar

PSG’s opening Champions League game against Liverpool ended in defeat, with their performance on the night far from impressive.

Should PSG continue in that light then there’s little to no chance of them mounting a genuine challenge for European supremacy this season, and it won’t be long before their ability to lure the worlds best players completely diminishes. This has already started, with Neymar reportedly set to return to La Liga with either Real Madrid or former side Barcelona after becoming frustrated with the level of football in France. That, and the fact that it is no longer Lionel Messi he stands in the shadow of, but the ever-blossoming 19-year-old superstar that is Kylian Mbappe.

It remains to be seen whether or not Neymar will return to La Liga, however with Ronaldo now playing in Serie A with Juventus and Lionel Messi slowly creeping closer and closer to his final years at the very top, a return to the Spanish top-flight seems logical for Neymar should he leave PSG and opt not to test himself in the Premier League, which as we’ve seen over the past five seasons is probably not an option as had he been interested in doing so, it’s more than likely he would have done it by now.

Messi is showing little signs of slowing down, but when he does Neymar will be ready and waiting

Although Messi is showing no signs of slowing down just yet, and continues to bamboozle defenders in the same elegant manner he has done since he was a fresh-faced 19-year-old at the Camp Nou, next summer he will turn 32, which would suggest potentially two seasons left as Barcelona’s talisman. This leaves the door wide open for Neymar to finally get his chance in the unchallenged limelight, whether it be with his former employees or against them, with their fiercest rivals in his quest to dominate La Liga and the Champions League, just like Ronaldo and Messi have been doing for the previous decade.

Whether it be next summer or in two/three years time, Neymar is playing a waiting game at PSG. He was obviously drawn to the French titans by the obscene amount of money they offered him, the chance to be the star player in a side that will cruise to victory almost every week, and should they finally win the Champions League, he’ll be showered with praise from every angle and labelled as the main reason behind their success. But is it where he wants to see out his entire career? Meandering pointlessly to countless, unchallenged league titles, relying solely on success in the Champions League? Absolutely not, because truth be told, nobody really cares about Ligue 1, do they?

The real reason he’s moved to the Parc des Princes is because he is waiting, waiting for the end of Ronaldo and Messi. Dress it up how you like, but Neymar craves the limelight. He’s an exceptional footballer, one of the world’s greatest performers with his dazzling tricks and South American flair, but he’s not happy being ‘one of the best’, he wants to be ‘the’ best, and as long as he was playing at Barcelona with Messi, or in La Liga against Ronaldo, that was never going to happen. The latter has now been taken out of the La Liga equation since his move to Italy and as soon as Messi shows visible signs of slowing down (if ever), Neymar will be on the next plane back to Spain in a heartbeat, ready to finally take over, millions of pounds richer.

Neymar is waiting for Messi to finish at the very top before he returns to La Liga.

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