What does Neymar have to do to be a success?

We are in uncharted territory here, folks. Last season, Paul Pogba rejoined his former club Man U for a world record €100m and was immediately criticized whenever his team failed to perform. Dubbed a flop, especially by opposition supporters, Pogba struggled to show why he was so highly coveted by Jose Mourinho. Critically, though, Pogba played an important role in United winning the Europa League, which, despite their poor form in the Premier League, helped United get back into the Champions League.

Now, PSG come along and, through some financial chicanery which will take years to decide whether it was legal or not, have given Neymar €222m to buy out his contract from Barcelona.  The fee is more than double what United paid for Pogba and the level of scrutiny for PP was off the charts last season. So, what does Neymar have to do to justify his transfer fee?

Well, PSG are easily favorites to win Ligue Un so that’s a given. Neymar is also quite a wonderful footballer to watch, so dribbles and goals and beautiful assists are sure to follow him to PSG as well. Fans will expect him to be nothing less than the most beautiful footballer they have seen and I don’t think he’ll disappoint – his ability to make those amazing runs, leaving four or five defenders in his wake will be highlighted by the level of competition in Ligue Un.

He will be good. He will probably even be great. So what more does he have to do? Fair or not, the only way for Neymar to be deemed a success is to win the Champions League for PSG and probably even the Balon d’Or.

PSG had a great run in the Champions League last season but fell short after taking a 4-0 lead over Barcelona in the first leg of their tie. In the return leg, which Barcelona won 6-1, Neymar played a prime part, scoring 2 and setting up a third, in what has been dubbed the greatest comeback in football history. But in the next round, Barcelona failed to get past Juventus, despite Neymar’s man of the match performance in the return leg.

Neymar put in two incredible performances in those four matches but he was still under the shadow of the world’s greatest ever footballer, Lionel Messi. Now, Neymar will have to do it all again, but this time, he’ll be in PSG colors, and this time there will be no Messi… the world will be expecting him to be the winner.

When you are the most expensive footballer in history. When you double the fee paid for the world’s most expensive player from the year before. The expectation is that you will be the greatest footballer in the world. That means being individually great, and also being so good that you lift your team to victory. And only the top trophies will matter. Anything less and Neymar will be deemed a flop.



  1. Anything less than winning the CL will be deemed a failure. It’s not like winning the league will set the bar any higher for PSG. The good news for him is he is still only 25, so he has a bit of time while PSG builds the team around him.

    Now that I have commented on your headline, I will go on to read the rest of the article.

  2. I hope he flops. He’s a pretty despicable character, him and his father who is reportedly getting his own big payout.


    Barcelona are a fairly despicable club all around.

    And these Qatari shieks who have billions to spend on footballers but won’t let a single Syrian refugee into their country, these people are a special kind of despicable.

    I pray for flops all around.

    1. Agreed (I don’t really find Barca especially despicable, at least on the field, but otherwise, yes).

    2. Not to mention their atrocious human rights record especially when it comes to building the stadiums for the world cup.

    3. I was going to add that I think a lot of people are going to be rooting for, or at least actively anticipating, Neymar’s downfall. I doubt he will ever match the expectations of his transfer fee for most supporters.

      1. Which is tragic because he’s so amazing to watch. I dream of the days of innocence when we could just celebrate footballers for being great footballers and not have to also live with the knowledge of all their shortcomings and potential shadowy activities.

  3. Just finished reading the rest of the article. Obviously, I agree. Though I’m not so sure if the personal accolades will matter as much. He is an excellent football but I don’t know if he is a class apart like Messi and Cron (*barf) is. He was excellent in that come-back game against PSG and there is a good chance that coming out of Messi’s shadow will help him become even better. However, I don’t think Messi was ever a hindrance to his growth. If anything, I think Messi helped him become a better footballer. Did PSG pay so much for him because they feel he can be the best footballer in the world or because of his commercial pull? The cynic in me says it was the latter. I guess we will see how much Neymar grows as a footballer now that he is no longer playing second fiddle to Messi. My guess is to win the CL, PSG is gonna need more than just Neymar.

  4. Uncharted is right. I think par would be minimum 20 goals and the Ligue 1 title, a bit better than par if he wins the double and the CL would be a big success. I think that would be a bigger achievement than the Ballon d’Or because I can’t see another candidate in sight who will challenge him for that in 2-3 years.

    This PSG team he is joining is not bad and they almost beat Barcelona last year. With Neymar they have a better chance to do it again than last season. That midfield of Matuidi, Veratti and Rabiot is among the best.

    1. I noticed he will wear #10, but most likely he will not be deployed as such. Hard to see PSG tinker too much with the 4-3-3.

  5. I think it is easy to overlook how good Neymar is for Brazil, where he is the main man. I don’t think the weight of expectations will faze him at all. His primary personal ambitions and legacy are almost certainly based on winning the World Cup for Brazil. Being at PSG probably helps in this regard. Easier league, so he can come into the World Cup fresher. Brazil have been top notch after that Germany humiliation, and have a good chance of winning. And maybe, he needs to be carrying the team at club level too to take Brazil to the top.
    Of course, the money is a factor. But in looking at this move from a football standpoint, it is important to consider Brazil and not just club tournaments.

  6. Looks folks, there is very little if anything, beyond the pitch that makes FIFA football appealing, the insane money bubble right now being just the latest example.

    So cheers, Dr. Gooner! I prefer to focus on why I actually watch and follow the game (inclusive of but not necessarily limited to my club). And of of those reasons is a talent like Neymar. The guy is special. I’ll leave it at that.

  7. Even in this summer of mind-boggling transfers, when it seems the entirety of football has lost its collective senses and that jaws couldn’t fall any lower, the transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for a fee of $263 million, more than double the previous world record, has taken those jaws down into the basement.

    How, then, can PSG possible afford not only the initial fee but also wages likely to be around $600,000 a week for five years? That is where this deal gets really interesting. PSG, after all, is bankrolled by Qatari Sports Investment, the sovereign wealth fund representing the Qatari royal family. With the falling oil price, there has been widespread retrenchment in Qatar and even talk of imposing a tax system. Over the past two seasons, PSG has made only two major signings, Julian Draxler and Angel Di Maria.

    Smashing records to land Neymar, then, is a major departure so abrupt that it’s hard not to wonder whether it may have less to do with football and PSG than with Qatar making a statement. Over the past two months, Qatar has been engaged in major diplomatic wrangling with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain following accusations that it supports terrorism. Its response has been to strengthen ties with Turkey and Iran and to emphasize its continuing economic might; it is, after all, the country with the highest GDP per capita in the world. Shattering the world transfer record is about as a high a profile a way as possible to let the world know that Qatar is still rich.

    In that context, it may not be a coincidence that Barcelona’s deal with Qatar Airways came to an end on June 30, with the Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten taking over as shirt sponsor. It’s probably going a little far to see this as a punitive measure, but what is true is that Qatar’s football interests are now all focused on one club.

  8. Neymar is a superstar, a huge talent, and doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. Why would anyone wish failure on the man? It’s the sport that’s being rotted. Yes, he and his father have a hand in that, but the enablers are sheikhs and a totally morally bankrupt UEFA and FIFA. Vulgarity, greed and excess rule the sport. The figure is mad, but then again, so was £100m for Pogba, and £50m for Kyle Bloomin’ Walker.

    Towards the end of the season and in the pre-season, he’s been Barca’s most deadly forward. But no matter how well he did, he could/would never be the man. It’s Messi’s kingdom. Now he has the stage to compete with him and Ronaldo, and he has the class to do so.

    Leaving aside the money and bad taste, he and Dani Alves have been fantastic acquisitions for Paris, and they’ll take some beating, domestically and in Europe.

  9. What I admire the most is the way he managed the press conference today, where he was presented and along that, the way he manage all the 2 weeks of negociations for the transfer. With great maturity. Although he knows that Barca was going to try everything to block the transaction he didn’t go to clash with them, didn’t make any silly post on social media or even speak to media. The post on his histagram came only when the transfer was officialy done. I think he knows exactly what he’s doing by going to PSG. So yes, PSG need more than Neymar Jr. to win Champ league, but Neymar is the kind of player that never let you down. He was the only one to still believe in Barca qualification after their humiliation of the first leg of last year game against PSG, and of he manage to qualify his team. I think Neymar can never be a flop, even if PSG dont win the Champ league in the next 5 years

  10. I like neymar so much..he’s got a bright future ahead and I expect him to blossom even more in France..considering their light defences..psg just got their revenge on their controversial loss to barca(I hate that team) who’s reign is gradually coming to an end … can’t wait for messi’s hair to turn black again..

  11. This is where we are in the sport and society right now. I remember a NYT article from about 22 years ago which was talking about the rise of the winner take all society(1). The social and legal controls that limited the size of markets and competition were swept aside giving us oligopolies. Similarly the controls that acted to limit the concentration of power and wealth have largely been pushed aside giving us the billionaire class. The technological and social changes that have made us more interconnected permits everyone to have a favorite team in a foreign country, giving us the mega-club.

    Mega-clubs with nearly unlimited resources will pay whatever it takes for special talent. All PSG did ‘wrong’ was decide they wouldn’t be put off by the price of admission to becoming a Mega-club. All Neymar did wrong was get some portion of his free market value as one of the top 5 players in the world. Of course, this will drive up the prices for everyone as the same pattern will cascade down to the merely big clubs like Arsenal when we try to sign young talent like Lemar and to the ambitious clubs like Wet Ham when they settle for middling talent like Arnautovic.

    The next step is to form a true League of Champions where the very best play each other every week, consuming literally all the oxygen in the room, leaving domestic leagues to pick up the scraps. And it makes sense. Who wants to watch Arsenal play Hull, Watford, Middlesborough, Stoke and the like, when you could play home and away to Juventus, Roma, PSG, Monaco, Bayern, Dortmund, Real, Atleti, Barca, in addition to ManU, City and Chelsea. Everyone could have two teams, their local team and one of their big national teams. They’d hardly ever face each other. I’m sure we’d be a mid-table team, but the quality of play would be so great, it would probably be worth it. Routinely parking the bus would probably be obsolete as you’d never win the competition by playing safe all the time.

    All you would have to do is give up your historical/local identity. The ‘romance’ of the old competition and the old rivalries could be preserved in national competitions like the FA Cup. Just think how excited the Spuds would be if they only got to face us once every few years when the draw obliged.

    Kind of gross no? But I honestly believe we’ll get there. It makes the United of Manchester story much more appealing and sad. (2)

    (1) Found it: http://www.nytimes.com/1995/08/27/weekinreview/ideas-trends-lonely-and-rich-at-the-top.html
    (2) https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/mar/31/fc-united-manchester-broadhurst-park

  12. My comment is not relevent to this post. Its about the blog.

    I like you tim. I always thought that you are rational, but you changed my mind. In the past, you used the numbers to prove that we are on the way up. You though and hoped that we will be the best.

    Now, ypu use the numbers to remind us that we are shit, and it is only going to get worse.

    I think your feelings drive you to look between the lines so you can back up your feeling, unfortunately, not the other way around.

  13. F all of that Dr. Duh. Let’s just give in golobally to the oligarchs and excessive crapitalism whereby the lawyers, politicians make all the rules, and their hired henchmen break all the rules. A race to the bottom.

    GD salary cap, no state interference, ie Spain, no money laundering, ie russian oligarchs, no country owned teams, ie United Emirates, and no corrupt fifa, uefa, fa etc. All the while corporations feed on the proverbial hog.

    Players getting 200mill to kick a piece of leather is beyond obscene. Bring the game back down to earth.
    Or, can’t wait for the bubble to burst and it will, to bring the whole thing down a few thousand notches.
    The other option is not speakable.

    1. Players getting paid large amounts is not bad for the game. It certainly beats the likes of Puskas having to auction off their medals later in life simply to survive. But there does need to be clear regulation and proper and fair execution. Football can’t even get that right on the field, and it is too profitable to not get right off the field. So, not going to happen. Embrace it because the ‘bubble bursting’ will only mean a traditionally big club, maybe like ManU going bust trying to keep up with the budgets of some countries.

      You could have a world club championship one day with mega clubs owned by the various Arabs, the Chinese, and who knows, American Corporations. I mean Google or Apple could buy a team and talk about how they use superior tech in training or some such thing. The possibilities are endless. This is not even close to bursting, except the traditionally big clubs are going to have to adjust and accept that they aren’t the big boys anymore.

      Which is actually why the clubs were pushing for FFP. To pull up the ladder behind them. But Uefa weren’t playing by their own rules, so that is dead.

      I don’t know, maybe a Super League wouldn’t be the worst thing, if they become like a US sports league where the rules are known and at least some level of parity is aimed at. The domestic leagues could also act like feeder clubs (which most leagues already are to the big clubs)either as farm teams or through a draft.

      It will be different, and hardly ideal, but might be the only way to cage this beast.

  14. PSG will win the CL soon enough. It’s inevitable. I’m not sure I’d put either the win or the loss only on Neymar’s shoulders though I accept that is how it will be presented. He’s a great player though and it’s a shame that he won’t be playing in the best league. Neymar in Italy or England would have been more interesting.

    I’m more interested to see how Barcelona react. Real Madrid have won 3 of the last 4 Champions Leagues (they won the 4th) and won La Liga too . They’re hurting and I’m not sure they’ll know how best to move on from this. Even with the 200m in their pockets. I think they’ll worry more about making a statement than the football and that doesn’t go well normally.

    1. They’ve been on a significant downslope the last few years, not so much because Pep left, as because the club hierarchy have gotten away from trusting in their academy, and from the purest Cruyff-Rijkaard-Pep football (but more the former than the latter). Losing Thiago was also a huge shooting-themselves-in-the-foot moment. I agree they don’t need a “statement”. They need shrewd buys and youth promotions all over the pitch, including a young replacement for Neymar. I would think someone really young with a huge upside, like Dortmund’s Dembele, would do the trick.

      1. I’m not sure if they’ve gone away from their academy or it’s just that their academy had a golden generation come through (and relied on others to polish them – Cesc, Pique, Alba) and aren’t producing the same caliber of player right now.

        I never believed in the myth they built around La Masia. I remember the 6 years they went without a trophy, relying on Rivaldo for European football and with Fabio Rochemback as the jewel from their academy, so I was always sceptical of their claim of being some kind of magicians of youth coaching.

  15. Once you get within the shout of being the world’s best at anything, anything can be easily justified from the financial stand point in today’s financial realities.

    PSG simply met what Barca thought to be an unbreakable release clause, so that’s not on Neymar.

    People on here wishing him to flop because of the exuberant wages he will be receiving need to ask themselves a simple question; would I rather watch Neymar play knowing he’s on £30m per year, or someone like Carl Jenkinson on £2m a year?

    If the huge salaries, footballers egos and their often questionable antics are making you resent the sport, then there’s an alternative – women’s football.
    A totally committed athletes playing within the rules of the game ( no diving, play acting or other antics), at a fraction of cost of the men’s game.

    1. Is that really you Christiano?
      Why don’t you score many free kicks any more?

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