Neymar joins legends Ronaldinho and Rai to extend Paris love affair and become the 34th Brazil star to make PSG switch

We look back at the five most prominent Samba stars to have played for the Ligue 1 giants

Alex Rea
by Alex Rea
4th August 2017

article:4th August 2017

Few clubs have a soft spot for Brazilian players quite like Paris Saint-Germain and with Neymar signing for €222million from Barcelona, the forward will become the 34th Samba star to turn out for the Ligue 1 giants.

The 25-year-old was unveiled in the French capital today as he set out his ambition to make history with the Parisians.


There is every chance he could go on to become the most distinguished Brazilian to turn out for the club as he extends a long Paris romance.

We take a look back at the five most prominent Selecao stars to play for PSG.

RAI

Years: 1993-98

Appearances: 217

The younger brother of the legendary Socrates, Rai was a talismanic figure for PSG in the 90s.

Signed from Sao Paulo in 1993, the attacking midfielder arrived having been named the South American Player of the Year with a reputation as a creative genius.

He oozed class and plundered goals during his five seasons in France and remained loyal despite opportunities to join some of Europe’s bigger sides.

On the back of his goalscoring form in Ligue 1 and after guiding PSG to the Cup Winners’ Cup, he earned a World Cup winner’s medal with Brazil before leaving in 1998 to rejoin Sao Paulo.

Rai

LEONARDO

Years: 1996-97

Appearances: 46

The versatile left-sided defender/midfielder returned to Europe in 1996 after spells in Brazil and Japan to sign for PSG and his single year with the club proved a success.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of his time in Paris came in the semi-final of the Cup Winners’ Cup when he slotted home a rebound from close range to open the scoring in the first-leg tie with Liverpool.

PSG went on to knock the Reds out and triumph in the final against Rapid Wien.

He left for AC Milan at the conclusion of the 1997 season but his association with the club didn’t end there as he returned as general manager to kick off PSG’s domestic domination following Qatar Investment Authority’s takeover in 2011.

Leonardo

RONALDINHO

Years: 2001-2003

Appearances: 86

Arguably the greatest Brazilian to have played for PSG, Ronaldinho would twice be named Player of the Year while playing for Barcelona but he arrived in the European consciousnesses after his two-year stint in Paris.

Having displayed sufficient promise to break into Brazil’s XI, Ronaldinho had caught the eye of Europe’s elite but he chose instead to make the surprise switch from Gremio to PSG in a low-key step up.

With the 2002 World Cup on the horizon, the attacker did not want to be languishing in the reserves of a top-level side and so PSG prospered – eventually.

Indeed, Ronaldinho got off to a slow start with the Parisians, mainly operating from the bench but with Nicolas Anelka jettisoned to Liverpool the following January, he thrived leading their attack.

His form in France provided the platform for a stunning World Cup as he guided Brazil to the Jules Rimet Trophy in 2002 and after 86 appearances and 25 goals, he departed for Barcelona where he would evolve into one of the world’s premier playmakers.

MAXWELL

Years: 2012-2017

Appearances: 202

Since the Qatari takeover in 2011, PSG have signed eight Brazilians but the first to arrive was dependable defender Maxwell.

Almost a complete antithesis to the flamboyance of other samba stars, Maxwell was discrete but all class.

Like Neymar, Maxwell was signed from Barcelona, though the Ligue 1 giants only parted with €3.5million for his services, as he replaced Siaka Tiene at left-back who had departed for Montpellier.

His darting runs and commitment to the cause earned him the affections of the PSG faithful as he became one of the most decorated players in club-football history having amassed 36 trophies during his distinguished career – 14 in France.

He retired at the conclusion of last season but his influence did not end there as he is said to have played a role in luring compatriots Neymar and Dani Alves to the club this summer.

Maxwell

DAVID LUIZ

Years: 2014-16

Appearances: 89

Bought from Chelsea for a then world-record fee for a defender of £50million, David Luiz formed a partnership with compatriot Thiago Silva in the heart of PSG’s defence.

There was always a sense, though, that Luiz only retained his place in the side because of Silva’s wishes to play alongside him rather than because of his performances with the talented Marquinhos considered the better option.

While the former Benfica man was a popular figure, both with players and the fans, his disjointed displays were never of the level required for a defender costing £50million.

With Antonio Conte’s desire to operate with a three-man defence, Luiz was brought back to Stamford Bridge in a £32million deal and although the move was largely lamented, he flourished as Chelsea stormed to the league title last term.

David Luiz

CURRENT BRAZILIAN CONTINGENT

Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Neymar, Lucas Moura, Marquinhos


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