Neymar's Difficult Summer
Neymar has had a difficult summer both on and off the pitch. Things got off to a bad start when Neymar hit a fan after PSG’s defeat in the Coupe de France final. PSG blew a 2-0 lead and eventually lost on penalties to Rennes. The incident happened after the match when the PSG players were climbing the stands to reach the stage to collect their runners-up medal. A fan appeared to be taunting Neymar, who reacted by taking a swing at the fan. Neymar received worldwide criticism for his conduct and was given a three match suspension. This ban comes soon after Neymar received another three match suspension in the Champions League for excessively criticizing the referees in PSG’s defeat to Manchester United. Shortly after Neymar was also stripped of the Brazil captaincy in what was widely rumoured to be as a result of his disciplinary issues. To make matters worse for Neymar it has come out recently that the fan is taking legal action against Neymar.
A few weeks after the Coupe de France final incident, Brazilian model Najila Trindade accused Neymar of rape. Police later dropped the case against Neymar citing a lack of evidence. In very recent developments the Sao Paulo police have announced they are charging the Brazilian model with fraud, extortion and slander in relation to the rape case. Although it appears that Neymar has done nothing wrong, the enormous amount of media coverage given to the accusations has hurt Neymar’s image. Some sponsors dropped Neymar from ad campaigns when the accusations came out.
On the field things did not go much better for Neymar in the summer. Neymar picked up an ankle injury that ruled him out of the 2019 Copa America. Brazil would go on to win the tournament without Neymar. This was just the most recent injury in a long list of injuries that Neymar has had to overcome in recent years.
Neymar did not escape from the headlines at the end of the summer either as he was part of an ongoing transfer saga surrounding his future. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid were heavily rumoured to want to sign Neymar but in the end the transfer window shut and no deal was reached. However, that is not the end of the story. Neymar has not been included in PSG’s lineup this season and it remains to be seen how will be received by teammates upon his return. He did not exactly leave off on good terms with his PSG teammates at the end of last season as he criticized some of PSG’s younger players after PSG’s defeat in the Coupe de France final and he did not attend the Ligue 1 football awards ceremony where Mbappe was named the player of the season. The fans of PSG are also not too pleased with Neymar as anti-Neymar banners have been spotted at PSG games at the start of this season and PSG ultras have been preparing more banners for Neymar’s return. There certainly appeared to be a shift in PSG fans toward the end of last season as they now see Mbappe as the star and leader of the team instead of Neymar.
At 27 years of age Neymar is now in the prime years of his career. When Neymar is on his game he has proved that he is the third best player in the world behind only Messi and Ronaldo. However, it appears that more and more often people are justifiably forced to talk about Neymar’s behavior and conduct rather then his performances. The way Neymar responds to everything that happened over the summer could be a pivotal moment in his career. It will be interesting to follow how Neymar does this season and whether he will be on the move in the coming transfer windows.