On Thursday, ESPN‘s Julien Laurens published an article about Neymar Jr. being optimistic over signing a new deal to remain a Paris Saint-Germain player.
It wasn’t a bombshell of a report or anything. We’ve known for weeks that Neymar was warming to Paris and that relatives and friends of his have stated that the Brazilian would be willing to sign an extension contingent upon the club’s success in the UEFA Champions League.
However, Neymar and contract negotiations make for great content and that is very much the business ESPN is in. After the article was published, two members of the ESPN FC crew, Alejandro Moreno and Shaka Hislop, spoke with host Adrian Healey and gave their thoughts on the situation.
Essentially, both commentators don’t quite understand how PSG and Neymar could have done a complete 180-degree turn following last summer’s transfer fiasco where the 27-year-old tried to force his way back to FC Barcelona.
Moreno honed in on the comments made by club executives where they did show the Brazilian some tough love:
“Nobody forced him [Neymar] to sign here. Nobody pushed him to. He came with a full understanding of the cause to sign up for the project.” — Nasser Al-Khelaifi, PSG president, Evening Standard
“PSG wants to rely on players who want to stay and build something big. We do not need players who would do the club a favor by staying here.” — Leonardo, PSG sporting director, Diario AS
The former MLS journeyman used those comments to make the point that PSG has essentially backed themselves in a corner in terms of a future deal because of what they said last summer. He wonders how can PSG say there is a way back to the club now when last summer they were prepared to part ways with him.
“You cut your options short when you came out and said that, to begin with,” Moreno said.
Hislop had a similar take but brought up Kylian Mbappé’s contract situation and the Real Madrid rumors.
He speculates that the fact that the Frenchman hasn’t signed a contract extension with PSG opens the door for him leaving this summer for La Liga. If that were to happen, Hislop believes that would be an advantage to Neymar as he would be the lone superstar in Paris.
“Maybe Neymar sees himself again as the King of Paris,” Hislop said.
The former West Ham United goalkeeper concluded by saying, “This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense given what played out last summer.”
Since these two “experts” are completely clueless about what is going on, allow me to break it down.
Neymar and Mbappé want to compete for the Champions League and win it. They also want to win the Ballon d’Or. They want to win as many trophies as possible, which is why both want to participate in the Olympics for their respective countries.
They also are really good friends and I would imagine they would prefer to continue playing together. Mbappé is from the Paris suburbs and chose to come to PSG over Real Madrid when he was at AS Monaco and looking for a new team.
It’s true that PSG executives showed Neymar some tough love last summer. The Ultras were harsh on him as well. However, anyone who has followed this team closely this season will tell you that Neymar has been as professional off the pitch as he’s been spectacular on it. The fans have warmed to him and more importantly, he’s happy in Paris.
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) January 8, 2020
Football is a business and for Neymar and Mbappé, there’s perhaps no better club for them than PSG at the moment. Neither one will find a better attacking partner elsewhere and PSG can pay them whatever salary they want.
Also, the “Neymar wants to be the king” talking point is only meant to make him appear selfish and couldn’t be further from the truth. He enjoys playing with footballers that are up to his quality and PSG has finally surrounded him with a great team, which Neymar recently acknowledged.
To Moreno and Hislop, if you want to hang on to comments made last summer and pretend as if nothing has happened since then, that’s fine, but it’s not what I would call insightful commentary.
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