Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, more known as Neymar Jr, was meant to dominate worldwide football since a very young age. After his signing for FC Barcelona and his immediate complicity with Leo Messi both on and off the field, anyone would have bet on him to be the next Golden Ball once the shared hegemony by the Argentinian and Cristiano Ronaldo would be over. However, the Brazilian star has faded away as years have passed by: What is going on with Neymar?
The scenario for him in Barcelona was idyllic. He was not only part of the best offensive partnership in the history of the club, but he also built a strong friendship with Leo Messi and Luis Suárez that was beyond football. In fact, he only had to wait for the natural pass of the years to provoke a generational takeover in a club where he was going to be the main star.
But his career changed forever in the summer of 2017. Neymar, who felt that that he would always be behind Messi in Barcelona, decided that his best call was to move to Paris. This way, he joined a club whose top aspiration (and almost single) was to win the Champions League. His transfer is still today the most expensive one in the history of football, as Paris Saint Germain paid his 222 million euros release clause that Barcelona had previously put on him.
Five years later and with the same Champions League trophies from the ones he had back in that summer of 2017, Neymar is starting to realize that he made a huge mistake when he decided to leave Barcelona. His time in Paris has been marked by the injuries and the “European failures”. In addition, his teammate Kylian Mbappé is already the best paid player in the roster and is way closer to win the Golden Ball than him.
It is true that Neymar’s level in some parts of the season has been outstanding and he has been among the best players in the world. But obviously, you can’t aim to win any individual award if you do not show any regularity at all. And he has certainly not been any regular at any moment. Nobody doubts of his talent, of course.
Nobody can stop him if he is healthy. He is the best when he wants. But he has certainly wanted to be the best just a few times. We all know that Neymar likes to enjoy life and that also brings along some consequences that harm any kind of professional footballer.
The transfer market is right around the corner and so the “Neymar’s soap opera” is about to kick off as well as any other year. It will certainly not be the first time nor the second that the Brazilian plans on leaving France. He knows that he made a mistake when he left and that he will never shine as much as in any other top European leagues. But exiting Paris is very difficult and there are very few clubs that can afford this deal.
It looks like, in the end, and beyond the huge quantity of goals, assists, skills, individual awards or titles, we have missed out on one of the biggest pure talents from the last years. Neymar had it all to be be the best and, even though at the age of 30 is still on time to relaunch his career and give us some top European level football years, he must mature as soon as possible, or he will become in the next Ronaldinho.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: Twitter @PSG_inside.