Brazilian Neymar is extending his contract with Paris-Saint-Germain by three years – until 2025 -, the club announced on Saturday May 8, after long negotiations. “Ney”, 29, arrived in 2017 from FC Barcelona for 222 million euros, the biggest transfer in football history.
Despite many reassuring statements for several months, supporters were starting to get impatient, the white smoke was slow to come out of the PSG headquarters. Was the genius dribbling player going to slip away, as the Spanish press has reported in recent weeks? The formalization finally came four days after the bitter elimination against Manchester City, in the semi-final of the Champions League.
“The center of gravity of our ambitious project to grow PSG lies in the heart, talent and total involvement of our players”, welcomed the president of the Parisian club, Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, quoted in the press release formalizing the extension of the Brazilian. The signing of Neymar allows the club to continue dreaming of its first Champions League – a priority objective for Neymar, bought at a high price with this in mind. “He is the flagship of the project. He is a natural leader ”, noticed his teammate Ander Herrera to a Spanish radio station in February.
As long as they do not get their hands on this trophy that they so desire, the two parties will undoubtedly keep the impression of not having gone to the end of their story. “Here I grew up as a person, as a human being and as a player, too. I am therefore very happy to extend and I hope to win a lot more (…) here ”, commented on Saturday the Brazilian, whose decision to stay at PSG is based as much on sporting choices as personal and financial.
” Focused on [l’objectif de] win the Champions League “
First, there is the beautiful European course achieved this season, with the eliminations of FC Barcelona and then Bayern Munich, the latter having allowed PSG to reach the last four for the second year in a row. After the final lost last August against the Bavarians (1-0), the Parisian formation confirmed that it could claim this Grail, which also covets Neymar, crowned with FC Barcelona in 2015. “I am focused on [l’objectif de] winning the Champions League first and foremost, because it could make a big difference in my life and my career. Later, seeing that I won one, two, three or four, that will be the most important ”, he explained.
Then there is the fact that Neymar did not have “Never been so happy as [lors de] this season “. Accomplice with Kylian Mbappé, at ease in a predominantly Spanish-speaking locker room, the Brazilian also appreciates the methods of the new coach, Mauricio Pochettino, who arrived in January. “He’s a very nice person, very happy. He gets along well with everyone, he’s a phenomenon on the pitch, but also a top teammate ”, said of him the Parisian defender Juan Bernat in November.
Finally, there is the financial aspect: only PSG is indeed able to continue to pay him an annual salary of 36 million euros, according to the revelations of Football Leaks, in a general context weighed down by the pandemic.
Unthinkable two years ago
However, two years ago, seeing Neymar extend seemed unthinkable, after a summer which had seen him express the wish to return to FC Barcelona and alienate a majority of ultras, upset by his attitude. Also responsible for his many injuries and his healthy lifestyle, pointed out, which will have a time away Neymar from the Golden Ball and the monsters Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, whom he was supposed to compete.
But the saga of the Lisbon Final 8 in 2020, during which PSG reached their first C1 final, confirmed him in his role as leader, both on and off the pitch, where he appears all smiles, and often with a portable speaker in one hand.
This season has offered a digest of his first three years in Paris: numerous absences (more than half of Ligue 1 matches) due to injuries or suspensions, saving inspirations such as his double at Old Trafford to beat Manchester United ( 3-1) during the group stage, and disappointments as against Manchester City this week in the semi-final second leg.
In the coming years, Paris knows that it will be able to get out of the worst-off situations thanks to the Brazilian. But the club learned from losing to the Sky Blues that they should not expect everything from him either. Building a balanced squad in which Neymar can shine will be the big project in the weeks to come for the sporting director, Leonardo. But first, it will be a question of settling the question of the extension of Kylian Mbappé, whose contract expires in 2022 – a question which is far from being settled. Then comes that of the reinforcements, in defense, in the middle and why not in attack, where the name of Lionel Messi has been coming back for several months. Knowing that Neymar has never hidden his desire to replay with the “ Pulga »Argentinian.