Neymar Jr. suffered an ankle injury in Paris Saint-Germain’s 4-3 victory over Lille OSC on Feb. 19 and has missed the capital club’s last two games and is set to miss a third straight against Bayern Munich on Wednesday at Allianz Arena.
Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe’s ability to click and find chemistry has many discussing whether Neymar should remain in the starting 11. While the 31-year-old has been criticized to no end, one player stepped up to defend Neymar.
“It’s not because he’s the star everyone is talking about [him], but because the positions we hold mean that when I played against PSG, of course, we were against each other,” Stade Rennais’ Baptiste Santamaría told Foot Mercato (h/t Paris Fans).
“Whether in his vision of the game or even technically, what he is able to offer, he is someone who impressed me; he is very, very strong. Frankly, we talk about it a lot.”
Furthermore, Santamaría noted that his experience with Neymar has been different than what various pundits might paint through the media. The Rennes played shared a story of how the Brazilian treated him when he asked to exchange kits after a match.
“I really had the chance to exchange a few words with him at the end of the match because my son is a fan, so I asked him for his shirt,” Santamaría continued. “I had the chance to discover someone very, very simple, very nice. Inevitably, provocation on the pitch is part of his game.
“He is someone who loves it and who has this ability to eliminate, which will cause him to provoke the players. But by the word, it is not someone who will provoke for free.”
There’s no doubt that Neymar isn’t for everyone, whether how he plays the game of football or how he conducts himself off the pitch. Nonetheless, if there’s something that his critics cannot say is that the PSG star isn’t a good person.