Forever in the Shadows
Last week the footballing world was treated to an intriguing display of childishness. It involved a trio of top stars from PSG - one of whom is the recently crowned “most expensive player ever”. A clash of egos in front of everyone’s eyes to see just what €220 million euros gets you.
Before we continue, anyone who somehow hasn’t seen the incident in question can catch a look at it below and if you have, it’s no harm to watch it again. It’s cringe.
The video says it all really and there were three players involved but when one of them is your world record signing and he is throwing tantrums like that, then serious questions need to be asked. Granted, Alves and Cavani are no better but with such a title and hefty transfer fee comes some added responsibility.
Now I can’t attest to the reasons for Neymar seeking a move to Paris and leaving behind Barcelona but one can assume, and it’s widely believed, that he wanted to escape from beneath Messi’s shadow and effectively become top dog. The thing Neymar needs to realise is that price doesn’t automatically make you the best. Becoming the main player in a massive european club like PSG is all well and good, but at the end of the day, PSG are not Barcelona, and never will be.
By leaving, it shows that he wasn’t willing to work as part of the team in Barcelona. He was bought for the purpose of succeeding Messi in Barcelona but he clearly couldn’t spend another three or four years waiting for that so he left, to try fast track the process elsewhere. The thing is, and I’ve mentioned it above; PSG is not Barcelona. While you can spend millions and millions on buying players, you can’t buy footballing history, culture and pedigree. It has to be earned and achieved throughout the years. PSG are in their infancy in this regard and although Neymar signals their intent to become power-houses on the world stage, I feel it will be another 5 to 10 years before they are seen on the same level as the current legendary clubs in European football. A big budget can only count for so much because at the end of the day, it’s the football is what gets remembered.
At the rate Neymar is going he’ll be remembered more for his price tag and his ego than for his abilities which is a criminal shame because he most certainly is gifted. What he will realise in time, and I fear it is already too late, is that Messi doesn’t just cast his shadow of greatness over Barcelona, but over the entire footballing world. Every player is judged against him, not just those playing for the Blaugrana. The stats are there for all to see if you ignore the Argentines performances each week.
In the 2016/2017 season Messi scored 37 goals in La Liga to Neymar’s 13. Neymar had 10 assists to Messi’s 9.
In the 2015/2016 season Messi scored 26 goals in La Liga to Neymar’s 24. Messi had 16 assists to Neymar’s 12.
In the 2014/2015 season Messi scored 43 goals in La Liga to Neymar’s 22. Neymar had 7 assists to Messi’s 18.
There is little sign of Messi slowing down either - in fact he continues to break records and has been instrumental in Barcelona’s fantastic start to the La Liga season this year. Ironically, with Neymar leaving it pushes Messi into an even more dominant position within the team and only increases his stranglehold over the “best footballer” title.
There is no way any footballer will seriously give up Barcelona for PSG coming into their prime for footballing reasons. It’s similar to players leaving for China for the money but the difference is that most of the players going to China are past their best and it’s a nice little retirement package for them. Neymar has effectively sacrificed his footballing legacy in return for a huge cash payout. It might make good business sense and I’m sure his accountant and Father are more than happy, but the thing he seeks the most is to be seen as the best and he never will be if he keeps up those displays of egotistical nonsense like unfollowing Cavani on social media after their spat.
He already has an uphill battle to dominate the footballing world from France and these bouts of immaturity only further increase the incline he’s facing before him.