Search icon


16th Jul 2019

In a world containing Messi, Neymar will never find what he’s looking for

Wayne Farry


Back to Barcelona it is

Neymar Jr. is unhappy at Paris Saint-Germain after his two year quest to mould a team in his own image has rendered the Parisian club just as vacuous and superficial as it was the day he arrived, perhaps even more so.

His move from Barcelona to the French capital was supposed to be the making of both parties. An exceptionally talented footballer stepping out of the shadow of the most talented footballer ever, joining a nouveau riche team with ambitions of knocking Europe’s old money off their perches.

But it has not gone to plan. Neymar has only exacerbated the problems that already existed at PSG, with his extreme brand of petulance and individualism an unhelpful addition to a team already full of petulance and individualism.

Brought in to propel the team to success, Neymar has been a toxic influence and has already decided that his time would be better spent back in Catalonia.

The entire fiasco resembles that of a friend of yours who is never quite able to decide on which relationship they want to commit to. They leave one, deeming it boring and unfulfilling, only to venture over to the greener grass, feel bored and unfulfilled there too and realise that maybe, just maybe, everything will finally be alright if they go back to their former love.

But that’s not how life works. Were he to return to his old flame Barcelona, Neymar would more than likely remember all the things that got on his nerves the first time. Sure, there would be a honeymoon period. Everyone would get along just great. He’d feel at home again. It was the right decision.

Eventually though he’d start to notice once again how Messi always uses his toothbrush, how he leaves his toenail clippings on the side of the bath, never washes up after himself and, crucially, how he is an immovable behemoth that can not and will not be displaced as the main man at Barcelona.

He will grow weary once again, act petulantly once again and more than likely begin to flirt with the prospect of walking through the greener grass once again.

The shadow of Messi is cast too far and too wide over Camp Nou for Neymar to ever escape it. Even after the great man eventually retires and returns to his home planet; every move, every performance and every error of Neymar’s will be held up against his memory.

That reality was too much for Neymar in his prime. Two years later and with question marks over what his true legacy will be, it will almost certainly be too much once again.

Maybe the best thing for Neymar is to actually remain at PSG. In many ways his desire to leave is perplexing, considering just how perfect a fit the club and he are for each other.

They are one in the same; two entities that claim to want to be the best but, in all likelihood, never will be. They are bedfellows who seem to care more about the illusion of prestige and greatness than actually striving and achieving it.

At Barcelona, Neymar cannot ignore the player he is, or the player he isn’t. At PSG, both he and the club can pretend to be whatever they want to be. Perhaps that’s the best option for them both.