scmp: Reeling away as he scored a sublime chipped goal in the French Cup final on Saturday, of course Neymar’s celebration was all about him.
No thanks were given for the brilliant slide through ball assist from Angel Di Maria. But it was understandable, given the Brazilian had spent three months on the sidelines and missed Paris Saint-Germain’s ignominious Champions League exit to Manchester United.
It was after the second leg in Paris in March, and Marcus Rashford’s injury-time penalty – controversially given by VAR – that the Brazilian fumed at officials. He reportedly tried to enter the referees’ locker room, and told them to “go f*** yourselves” on Instagram.
That classy showing of humility in defeat earned him a three-match ban, we discovered last week, which rules him out of half of PSG’s group stage games in the competition next year (presuming he stays in Paris).
— All About Football (@Insta_Stories12) April 28, 2019
And he could now miss the first eight games of the French champions’ domestic season after appearing to strike a mouthy supporter in the face at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille, where Rennes came back from 2-0 down to win 6-5 on penalties in an unlikely triumph.
The supporter had been filming – and goading – PSG’s dejected players as they came up the stairs to collect their runners’ up medals. Neymar lost his cool, again, and plenty of other supporters were on hand to record the whole thing with their smartphones.
Neymar appears to hit a fan following PSG’s cup final defeat. pic.twitter.com/kdpGKmBcoz
— 90thMin 💭 (@90thMin) April 28, 2019
No matter he was excellent on the pitch, having also assisted Dani Alves’ brilliant opening goal – his own manager still hung him out to dry.
“You can’t get into a fight with a spectator. You just can’t do that,” Thomas Tuchel said. “It’s not easy to go up the steps after a defeat. It’s very difficult for me, for everybody – but we have to accept it. If we lose, we have to show respect.”
This time Neymar was more humble on Instagram at least. “Did I act badly?” he wrote. “Yes. But no-one can stay indifferent.”
In a separate post, he said “no one likes to lose” – as if that is a viable defence for his actions. “Anyone who knows me knows how competitive I am and how much defeat shakes me,” Neymar added.
“But losing is part of an athlete’s life, makes us grow, makes us think, makes us better. Happy to be able to play again, to score again and feel good on the pitch, but the biggest feeling today is one of sadness.”
Neymar was making his first start since January, having returned off the bench from a serious foot injury as PSG clinched the title with a win over Monaco on April 21.
He could now be set for another long lay-off, with the French Football Federation reportedly set to throw the book at him. If the match referee doesn’t include the incident in his report, then a commission will have to review the available video footage.
PSG’s owners are unlikely to take him to task, given they shifted heaven and earth to bring him to the Parc des Princes.
But with PSG floundering again in Europe, and having had such a torrid end to the season, could this be the last we see of Neymar in a PSG shirt?
Neymar may decide to try and jump ship to Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid rebuild. The Frenchman won the Champions League with Real three years in a row before stepping down last summer, and has been brought back in to put out the fires of the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era.
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is batting his eyelashes in Madrid’s direction, and Paul Pogba (or his agent Mino Raiola) seems determined to escape the chaos at Old Trafford.
But Neymar is probably the only attainable, genuine world superstar that could match Ronaldo’s goalscoring output.
His obsession with winning the Balon d’Or – which makes Gollum’s love for the Ring appear healthy – will also be at play.
A 27 years old, Neymar knows time is ticking. He’s in his prime, hence he forced a €220 million (US$246 million) move from Barcelona because he knew he would be in Lionel Messi’s shadow for a while longer.
He also knows winning the Champions League is his ticket to the Holy Grail, especially as he probably only has one World Cup left in him.
Perhaps PSG’s fans will grow tired of Neymar’s selfish antics that are costing the team on the pitch – or perhaps not, given he’s still scored 21 goals in 24 games despite his injury woes this season.
Flying out to Rio to attend Carnival celebrations in February, while still doing rehabilitation work for his injury, was not a good look either.
He should have plenty of plenty of time to hit the Brazilian beaches at the start of next season, either way.
Source: Published by scmp