Neymar arrived at the Estadio da Luz ahead of the Champions League final on Sunday night ready to make a statement.
The world’s most expensive player, signed for £ 198million in 2017, entered the Lisbon arena in a sleek black suit with a large Bose speaker in hand. By the end of the night, the message resounding across the football sphere would be loud and clear: I have completed the task for which I was brought here.
The Brazilian had already won the elite competition of European football five years ago with Barcelona, and he played a key role in the attacking triumvirate involving himself, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
Neymar missed an opportunity to climb to the top of world football on Sunday night
Paris Saint-German lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich to miss the Champions League
But Sunday’s final against Bayern Munich would be a chance to show the world that he could take on the lead and award club football’s most coveted award, and finally come out of Messi’s shadow.
It was the perfect stage and the perfect opportunity for Neymar to move up to the next level with Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but the Brazilian and Paris Saint-Germain fell heart-wrenchingly at the last hurdle.
The French giants had plenty of chances to clinch their very first Champions League title, with Kylian Mbappe dismissing a number of sharp opportunities to put the Ligue 1 champions ahead.
The French wasted in front of goal and had to pay for their missed opportunities
And when you lose your chances in knockout football, expect to be forced to pay.
Bayern Munich weathered the storm and snatched the all-important winner as Kingsley Coman shot an emphatic header past Keylor Navas to break PSG’s hearts.
Even his fiercest critics would admit that Neymar is a player who cares deeply and wears his heart on his sleeve.
The images of the £ 198million man sitting inconsolable on the bench in the aftermath of the Champions League final with his head in his hands and tears streaming down his cheeks were a touching moment for a superstar in short of time to make its mark.
Neymar was pictured in tears the day after the match in heartbreaking scenes
The 28-year-old has been signed for £ 198million to win the coveted European Parisians award
There is no doubt that Neymar is one of the best in the world in terms of ability.
Scoring 245 goals in 405 career outings, with 153 assists to boot, are exceptional numbers and he has been regularly hailed as a player capable of achieving the superhuman efforts of Ronaldo and Messi.
Ahead of Sunday’s final, former Barca star Deco insisted Neymar was already at that level.
“Neymar is different – he is at the level of Messi and Ronaldo,” he told Goal. “He’s different, he plays great football. “
But it’s major silverware, not goals and assists, that will put Neymar at the top of world football. Granted, this year’s Ballon d’Or was canceled, but by the age of 28 Messi had already won five while Ronaldo had two to his name. Neymar does not have one.
Neymar (middle) left Barcelona in 2017 to step out of the shadow of Lionel Messi (right)
However, he still hasn’t won a Ballon d’Or. At 28, the Argentine had already won five gongs
At 28, Neymar must act quickly to ensure he wins the coveted individual award. PSG are eternal winners of national silverware, regularly sweeping the best prizes in French football.
However, the medals of these winners are not enough to see Neymar eclipse Messi and Ronaldo, and it is the European top prize win that is imperative if the Brazilian is to bypass his two rivals, which makes Sunday’s heartbreaking defeat yet again. more heartbreaking. for the most expensive player in the world.
So does Neymar stick or twist?
It’s hard to imagine a club would spend the kind of money intended to reward the striker on Thomas Tuchel’s side, especially given the financial ramifications of the coronavirus crisis.
Previous transfer windows have seen the Brazilian linked with a return to Catalonia, with Messi believed to be strongly in favor of reuniting his former teammate. Barcelona’s failure to quit Neymar last summer is said to be one of the many disputes the Argentine has with the club’s hierarchy.
So does Neymar stick or twist with PSG? Thomas Tuchel’s side have come close this year and can take comfort in the example set by Liverpool and Bayern by rebounding from final losses
Neymar and Kylian Mbappe both have a point to prove as they pursue football greatness
A return to Camp Nou would surely be an admission of defeat in Neymar’s pursuit to come out of Messi’s shadow, however. You get the feeling that Neymar’s thirst to be the main star is stronger now than it has ever been, given how close he has come to European glory in Lisbon.
Neymar can also take inspiration from Sunday night’s winners Bayern Munich, who rebounded after falling at the last hurdle in 2012 to win the competition in 2013. Liverpool, who lost to Real Madrid in 2018 before responding in lifting the trophy in last season.
His striking partner Mbappe has been billed as the next to take over and will also be disappointed with his missed opportunity in Lisbon. But at 21, the Frenchman isn’t as pressed for time as his Brazilian teammate.
For Neymar, this could soon become a case of rupture as time is running out for the superstar to keep his promise and join Messi and Ronaldo in this upper bracket.
However, time is not on Neymar’s side, and he may soon become decisive for the star.