Why 2019-20 is a Big Season for Neymar
There's only one way for the Brazilian to confirm his place among football's best.
We take a look at why 2019-20 is shaping up to be a big season for Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar if he's to finally confirm his place among football's best.
This season is massive for Neymar if he’s to confirm his place among the best the beautiful game has ever produced - and the only way for the Brazilian to do that is to finally win PSG a Champions League.
That was ultimately the reason Les Parisiens were willing to pay the monumental €222 million transfer fee to get the forward across from Barcelona in 2017. They certainly didn’t pay it to win the Ligue 1 title they have so routinely won in a canter for six of the last seven seasons.
It’s not as though PSG are in a bad place right now, already siting atop Ligue 1 despite injury and suspension limiting Neymar to appearing in just five of the opening 10 league games. The Brazialian is yet to turn out in any other competition.
Missing games is nothing new for Neymar of course. Although iin recent seasons it’s not until the Champions League knockout stages that he pulls up lame. The very time PSG have needed him most. Which is why this season's early setback - caused on international friendly duties with Brazil - has left the club and manager Thomas Tuchel extremely frustrated:
"Football is a game for the players and for the spectators, but how it goes now, it's very difficult to maintain the same intensity, a lot of flights and friendly games. Too many competitions! The African Cup, U21, Copa America, next year again Copa America because it's every year now, again Copa America, the European Championship. It doesn't stop - all the teams who play a lot of games have a lot of injured players."
The one saving grace is that this recent injury has happened early in the season, and not in the new year. Neymar’s month on the sidelines only sees him miss two games against Belgium’s Club Brugges as far as the Champions League is concerned.
And upcoming league games against Dijon, Brest and Marseille won’t be of any concern to the PSG hierarchy, coming off a 4-1 demolition job on Nice without Neymar, while welcoming back Kylian Mbappé and Edinson Cavani following their own injury layoffs.
But therein may lie the answer for PSG getting a full season out of their 222 million euro man.
Considering his international manager Tite’s impassioned defence at selecting Neymar against Nigeria in October, Brazil aren’t accepting responsibility for the injured talisman any time soon:
"There's a very important structure, physical therapists are here, that do not allow me to play him. It would be irresponsible from my part, inconsequential. I would have to accept criticism from PSG’s head coach, from the club's president. It's an absolutely no. No. If there were any doubts we wouldn't have started with him."
So, if the domestic competitions are so easy for PSG - why can’t Thomas Tuchel be the one who gives him the rest that the manager so passionately declares Neymar needs?
"It's too much. For the players it's too much. There are too many competitions, too many games, too many friendly games, and it’s a big problem for me.”
Admittedly, PSG, and Neymar’s inability to win the Champions League is a source of much joy for the football world, considering the sums that have been thrown around to unite them.
But there are certainly those who would like to see Neymar succeed, as team-mate for club and country, Marquinhos explains:
“Unfortunately, not everybody has the opportunity to know him for the great person that he is. Everyone that has him as a friend wants him to do well, wants to see him winning, wants to see him accomplish all the goals that he has because he's a great person.”
There are very few true lovers of the game that would argue Neymar's skill set is not deserving of being showcased at crunch-time in the Champions League.
And if Neymar were ever able to deliver the club a much-coveted European title, it would go some way to casting aside the haters and repaying the PSG faithful.