Neymar is good for PSG, the fans and Ligue Un. But the Brazilian’s arrival may not be so beneficial for a few of Neymar’s teammates
Perhaps it’s only the beginning; perhaps it’s the beginning of the end but whatever it means for football and its finances, Neymar’s $263 million move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain is a paradigm shift. While the world dissects the Brazilians decision and the staggering sums of money involved, there are questions to be asked over where and how his new teammates fit in around the club’s new superstar.
A concern more for certain individuals in the squad than the club and its supporters because let’s be absolutely clear, if there were doubts about PSG’s status among Europe’s elite before, they are over now.
The Qatari owners have longed to be considered equals to the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid but despite the vast amounts already plowed into the club and the capture of four of the last five Ligue 1 titles, that equality hasn’t quite been reached.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) August 5, 2017
The Champions League has remained out of the club’s grasp and last season’s 6-1 humiliation at the hands of Neymar and Barcelona was the final straw.
In convincing the 25-year-old to swap the Camp Nou for the Parc des Princes, Unai Emery has a player who knows what it takes to lift the biggest prize in European football.
Outrageously gifted, a proven goal scorer and provider and only just entering the peak years of his career; PSG look better set than ever to certainly wrestle French superiority back from Monaco but seriously challenge Europe’s elite.
Neymar will be the figurehead, as he is for Brazil, so who will Emery place around his new fulcrum?
Angel Di Maria had been linked with a move the other way during the lengthy negotiations with Barcelona but remains in Paris and although the whippet-like wide-man splits opinion, the Argentina international averaged 2.7 key passes last season and in the last two seasons no player in Ligue 1 has created more clear-cut goal scoring opportunities.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) August 4, 2017
El Fideo’s upturn in form after the January arrival of Julian Draxler will likely see the German youngster slip down the pecking order; a harsh outcome for the 23-year-old, who was arguably last season’s only real success in the market and made an immediate impact in Paris, providing genuine width and end-product to the attack.
After completing his transfer from Wolfsburg, Draxler initially looked as though he could signal the end for Di Maria but now may have to make do with a place on Unai Emery’s bench.
With Neymar and Di Maria operating off either flank this would presumably leave Edinson Cavani as the side’s number nine and after coming off a season in which the Uruguayan struck an incredible 49 goals in all competitions, few could disagree.
Like Di Maria in some regards, Cavani is something of a polemic figure, capable of the outstanding and the atrocious but given his supply line for the coming season it’s difficult to imagine El Matador not enjoying another goal-laden season and maybe even breaking that half century milestone.
Competition for places has always been fierce but no more so than ever for the rest of the squad, particularly those that operate in the opponent’s half. Javier Pastore must prove his fitness and try and muscle his way into the midfield with the likes of Marco Verratti, Adrien Rabiot and Thiago Motta in the way, while Lucas Moura might be wondering where he fits into the new plans.
Which leaves exciting youngsters Giovani Lo Celso and Goncalo Guedes surely pondering loan moves away from the club. The pair have struggled for playing time since completing moves from Rosario Central and Benfica respectively and in order to continue their development will require greater involvement.
Neymar’s arrival undoubtedly lifts PSG but for some of those mentioned, it could spell the end of the road.