Neymar has courted controversy and criticism for his PSG move, but the footballer is following the path of other greats of the game
The motivations of Neymar’s move to PSG have been the subject of a lot of speculation over the past week. The Brazilian star has received a hell lot of criticism from the media and fans, as well as accusations of the footballer throwing his football career away in exchange for extra funds in his bank-account. But the truth is that, Neymar now cares about his professional career more than ever.
While it is true that Neymar will no doubt collect millions of dollars following his transfer to the Parc des Princes, this was far from being the only reason for the move. As a matter of fact, it is natural that any top-rated footballer demands extra pay in order to join the ranks of any side.
With this move, Neymar’s yearly salary is set to jump from $17 million to $33 million, which is still far less than Lionel Messi’s reported $47 million yearly income at Barcelona. It is worth noting that the Argentinian ace has renewed his contract eight times in the last 12 years, so it would be wrong to accuse Neymar, who still earns a lower salary, of solely being a money-seeker. As PSG president Nasser Al Khelaifi said, if the Brazilian’s sole purpose was to earn money, he would have went to China where his salary would have been thrice what the Parisian club is ready to pay.
In terms of football, Neymar is, at the age of 25, at the peak of his abilities. How many years should he wait before being the main man and guiding his own team in the UEFA Champions League, consequently writing his own story and his own legend, rather than helping someone else write his?
It is the right of the Seleção-hero to dream of being the best player in the world, and to win the FIFA Player of the Year award, by guiding his own club to European glory, the way Ricardo Kaká did with AC Milan in 2007, or the way Ronaldinho carried Barcelona to the top, while being the main man.
Why can’t Neymar be the technical leader of his own club, as Pelé was for Santos, or Diego Maradona for Napoli? This is the path that so many football greats have followed, even Lionel Messi himself. While it is true that winning the Champions League at Barcelona would be an easier mission, it is just as true that carrying your own team to the title, as the principle figure, is more important than being considered a glorified assistant.
Against Paris Saint Germain in March 2017, Neymar inspired one of the most legendary comebacks in the history of European football, only to find another man on the cover of international papers the next day, to find another man being lifted and hailed as if he had done it all, when Neymar himself, was the only one who believed in the miracle, and the one who actually made it happen.
While the competitiveness of the French league is the number one counter-argument against Neymar’s PSG swap, there are several reasons, besides money and guiding his own team, as to why he decided to take on this new challenge. It is time for the Brazilian to come out of his comfort zone, by lifting PSG from a quarter-finalist to a champion of the old continent. This is what sets legends apart from others. Neymar, admittedly, enjoys being part of a large Brazilian contingent in the locker room, during training sessions and during games. He will be happy to experience these moments with countrymen Marquinhos, team captain Thiago Silva, his close friend Dani Alves, and last but not least, Lucas Moura.
One more benefit? The argument of the Ligue Un not being as physically demanding as, say, the English Premier League, could well turn into the Brazilian’s favor, as he would arrive fresher and more energetic, just-in time to realize his dream of leading Brazil in the World Cup.
Big decisions have to be made in every player’s professional career, and Neymar has made his, to leave his comfort zone at Barcelona and start a new life in Paris. People were always going to throw accusations after such a transfer, but this is part of the game, and he [Neymar], knows just as much as anyone else, that the only way to reply to these voices is on the football pitch. With the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA World Cup ahead, I would not bet against the Brazilian to, yet again, prove all his doubters wrong.