IA year and a half ago, it was still underlined that Paris-Saint-Germain were running up against their European glass ceiling, unable to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League in the last three seasons, a stage at which they had been stuck in the previous four.
Since then, he has appeared twice in the last four, playing in a final: enough to put into perspective the criticisms emitted since his elimination by Manchester City, and give some credit to a policy that perpetuates the extension of Neymar Jr’s contract, at the end of long negotiations.
This is only the truth of two matches, but the qualification of Manchester City has however validated a counter-model: a team also financially doped, but very homogeneous, of a high collective value and led by a great coach who holds sporting power. A team more likely to starify its players than the other way around – unlike PSG since 2012.
It was certainly a necessity, in terms of raising to the top of the sports and media hierarchy a club that had fallen into line since its flamboyant 1990s. The policy of casting – Beckham, Ibrahimovic, Buffon, etc. – put PSG on the map on world football by supporting its economic development.
Neymar, neither playmaker nor boss
The departure, in the summer of 2016, of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic who tended to cannibalize the club seemed to open a new page, on which would lie a more reasoned sports project. A year later, the resounding transfers from Neymar and Kylian Mbappé were turning her. But, here again, this bet was relatively rewarded by bringing Paris into a “new dimension”.
Relatively, because the last steps to the coronation still seem very high. In the 2020 Champions League final, the Parisians lost their resources after the opening of the scoring; in the 2021 semifinals, they still lacked resources and nerves, betraying an immaturity, which is also that of their leader.
Neymar is a prodigious technical leader, but he is neither a playmaker nor a boss able to unite a group through his charisma or his exemplary nature. His attitude and his too many injuries prevent him and we saw him again, Sunday May 9 in Rennes, assuming little responsibility while his club let the national title go away.
His team relies excessively on his ability and that of Mbappé to “make a difference” on their own. In Munich, in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, their flashes made it possible to overthrow a stronger team, but they can not always replace regularity, principles of play, multiple collective resources.
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