PSG opened up a slender two-point lead in the French Ligue 1 thanks to a moment of brilliance by Neymar, who found himself being targeted by PSG supporters throughout the game. The Parc des Princes vented its full fury on the world’s most expensive player, who became a rebel in the summer while trying to force his move to Barcelona.
The lack of Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe made Neymar’s presence rather crucial in the game. Despite being booed throughout the match, the 27-year-old did not disappoint and a spectacular overhead finish in the 90th minute helped PSG get a win over Strasbourg. According to the BBC, he said:
“It’s not the first time I’ve been booed. It’s sad, but I know that from today, I’ll play every game as if I were playing away. I don’t need everyone to sing my name, I just want them to be behind PSG.”
Neymar was making his first competitive appearance for PSG in the win over Strasbourg, but he has featured in a couple of games for Brazil. Hence, he was not at his best in terms of fitness levels but still conjured up a brilliant goal. As a top player who has been criticised on several occasions,
Even though Neymar came up with a crucial goal, the PSG ultras did not find a reason to stop the boos. It may be a long time before club faithful see Neymar as one of their own. This division has come about partly due to the player’s ill-advised comments. A few months ago, Neymar – in his efforts to try and force the move back to Barcelona – claimed that his best moment in football was the incredible comeback victory over PSG. In hindsight, such a comment before completing the return to the Camp Nou seems to be ill-advised.
PSG ultras were aware how Neymar was desperate to return to the Camp Nou so much so that he was even ready to pay €20 million out of his own pocket – a rare move from any player. The fans also expected a better behaviour from a player who is being paid €36 million per year by the club.
On the pitch, there has not been much to criticise Neymar apart from his inability to help PSG get the ultimate glory of Champions League success. The Brazilian has come up with 52 goals in just 58 games – not to mention his 27 assists. However, he has been unavailable for some of the key matches – like the Champions League games against Manchester United and Real Madrid when the team needed him the most. Yet, Neymar was unavailable due to injuries.
It remains to be seen if PSG ultras and other fans will be continuing their criticism of the player, who is effectively the world’s most expensive and one of the world’s best. The current situation could actually become music to the ears of Kylian Mbappe, who is already making a huge impact at the club. Currently out with injury, Mbappe can expect to take a huge chunk of the limelight when he returns to the first-team action in the month. Then, it would be the ‘Neymar vs Mbappe’ battle all over again but it is clear where the supporters stand on this battle.