Neymar's greatest challenge is raising his game in the comforts of PSG

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Neymar poses with his new No10 PSG shirt

There is satire to Neymar potentially making his Ligue 1 bow against Amiens.

The club based in the north of France will be making their own debut, arguably of greater significance, as they play in the French top flight for the first time.

Christophe Pelissier’s collection of free transfers and academy players are up against a starting XI which cost in excess of €450m (Dh1.9bn). President Bernard Joannin admits, “a soccer game, is a soccer game” and while Amiens may take to the field as equals, the gulf in resources for teams in the same division is almost beyond comprehension.

It’s been magnified by the Neymar acquisition but, barring Monaco’s brief season in 2013/14 of trying to match PSG euro for euro, Les Parisians have been in a league of their own since QSI first pitched up in the French capital in 2011.

Their six seasons of investment into the club have been book-ended by near-miraculous title victories for Montpellier and Monaco, but four league championships and six Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligues is a fair haul. But the feeling is that PSG have under-performed, particularly in the Champions League where the quarter-finals is the furthest they have travelled in Europe.

Neymar may be a political tool, a commercial vehicle, a way of proving PSG’s relevance to the world, but he is an exceptional footballer and one who will, above all, be tasked with improving this record.

Given Monaco’s squad upheaval and Nice, Marseille, Lyon and Lille just not of a similar standard – for a multitude of reasons but essentially due to finance – the chances are PSG will win Ligue 1, with or without the Brazilian.

A world record €222m has not been spent on Neymar to score hat-tricks against Amiens, Guingamp and Toulouse (PSG’s first three league fixtures), it’s for nights like March 8 when the Brazilian inspired Barcelona to a 6-1 win over the Parisians, a match that we now know proved pivotal in fashioning the 25-year-old’s future.

During his press conference, he was pushed on what success in Paris would mean for him, his obvious answer was the Champions League amid talk of new challenges, projects and ambition. But like the other financial powerhouse who have come to hold a near-monopoly on domestic matters, Bayern Munich, PSG have found translating success at home to abroad tricky.

There are myriad reasons but clearly, such is their sheer strength, PSG’s players can coast through games and still produce results.

They are handsomely paid, are superstars in one of the most iconic cities in the world and are considerably more talented than 90 per cent of their opponents. You can hardly blame them.

Angel Di Maria, Javier Pastore, Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi all arrived for considerable fees but either flopped or merely provided replica performances of the past. While younger imports Lucas Moura, Marquinhos, Layvin Kurzawa and Kevin Trapp have largely plateaued at the Parc des Princes.

Of their expensive imports, only Marco Verratti, Blaise Mautuidi, Thiago Motta and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were truly able to enhance their game in a PSG shirt.

And although it’s slightly disingenuous, considering how he’s been able to rise to the very apex of football, it’s impossible not to consider Neymar’s salary in the context of the lack of high-quality opposition he will face on a weekly basis, and ponder if he’ll be able to improve as a player and therefore inspire PSG to make the next step.

The Champions League may be the ultimate goal, but this is the genuine challenge for the 25-year-old and will go a large way to determining if he can truly “write history” in Paris, beyond the monstrous transfer sum and salary lavished to take him there.

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Timeline of Neymar's dramatic transfer from Barcelona to PSG

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Now that Neymar’s stunning transfer from Barcelona to PSG is complete, here’s a look at the events of the summer that led to the world-record move:


The first indication that what has been labelled ‘the transfer of the century’ is on comes from Brazilian football website Chuteira FC which announces that PSG are “ready to pay” the famous €222 million buy-out clause.


“Neymar has accepted PSG’s offer”, Barcelona-based Brazilian journalist Marcelo Bechler posts on Twitter.


Neymar tells website that he’s “happy” at his club. “Now, we must work for next season, which is going to be more positive both from a personal and a team point of view”.


With the transfer soap opera playing out on social media PSG captain Thiago Silva raises eyebrows when he ‘likes’ a photo montage of the French club’s four Brazilians behind their compatriot Neymar photo-shopped wearing a PSG shirt and published by Brazil’s Esporte Interativo.

PSG coach Unai Emery lends credibility to the talk of a move for Neymar with comments in an interview with sports daily L’Equipe.

“If we want to compete with Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and win the Champions League, PSG must have one of the top five players in the world,” he says.


During Barcelona’s tour of the United States, Neymar posts a troubling photo on Instagram in which he is stretched out on the grass with his left hand supporting his chin.

He makes no comment apart from an emoji suggesting that he is in reflection mode. The photo is ‘liked’ by three PSG players (Kevin Trapp, Marco Verratti and Angel di Maria).


A post shared by Nj 🇧🇷 👻 neymarjr (@neymarjr) on


PSG’s new signing Dani Alves, a close friend and compatriot of Neymar, posts a message on Instagram which appears to be directed at his former Barcelona teammate and hints at a certain impatience.

“What do you want to be? Where do you want to go? All these questions depend on you never forgetting where you came from and who was at your side when you were somebody but the world didn’t know who you were?”

But Neymar stays silent.


That is what Barcelona central defender Gerard Pique tweets — “Se queda” in Spanish — as a caption to a photo in which he is arm in arm with Neymar.

Se queda.

A post shared by Gerard Piqué (@3gerardpique) on


“It is a personal opinion drawn from the conversation I had with him and from my intuition,” affirms Pique, playing down his claims that Neymar is staying in Catalonia.


The Daily Mail publishes a video showing Neymar scrapping with his teammate Nelson Semedo, one of Barcelona’s summer signings, on the club’s US tour.

The Brazilian is held back by his team-mates before tossing away his bib and walking off the pitch.


“Be courageous. The world belongs to the courageous,” Dani Alves tells reporters in a message aimed at Neymar and at convincing one of his best friends to join him at PSG.

Alves was speaking after Paris beat Monaco 2-1 in the Moroccan city of Tangiers in the French Champions Trophy.


“In football there are clauses and if he wants to leave he knows there are people who can pay the clause,” declares the Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu with a hint of resignation that he will have to let Neymar go.

The Spanish league, meanwhile, is opposed to the deal, targeting PSG’s owners. La Liga president Javier Tebas says: “It means that the Qatari state is injecting money and that violates UEFA’s financial fair play rules and the European Union’s norms of economic competition, and we’re going to file a complaint.”


After Barcelona’s US tour, in which he was a standout performer on the field, Neymar spends a day in Shanghai attending promotional events, essentially fashion-related. Not a word is said about an impending transfer.


Neymar returns to Barcelona via Dubai, amid speculation that he might have been headed directly for Paris or Qatar.


Neymar tells Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde and his team-mates that he intends to quit the club. Barca insist that the 222 million-euro buyout clause “must be paid in full”.

“We are going to pay the clause. Once Neymar gave me the green light, on August 1, I went to Paris and I got a proposition from PSG to pay the clause, which will be done in the coming hours,” said the player’s advisor Wagner Ribeiro.

Neymar travels to the Portuguese city of Oporto for a medical, according to press reports.


Neymar’s world record move is completed when the French club confirm the Brazilian superstar has signed a five year-deal, earning him an estimated €30 million a year.

“I am extremely happy to join Paris Saint-Germain,” said Neymar.

“The club has always been one of the most competitive and most ambitious. And the biggest challenge, what most motivated me to join my new teammates is to help the club to conquer the titles that their fans want.”

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Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and other global stars react to Neymar's move to PSG

Neymar’s transfer from Barcelona to PSG has sent shockwaves through the world of football, and predictably there has been an outpouring of reaction on social media.

His colleagues in the famed MSN strike force were the first to react, with Lionel Messi posting an emotional farewell and Luis Suarez followed suit.

Fellow Barcelona teammates Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta have also taken to social media to say their good-byes, as have Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, and Javier Mascherano, among others.

Although Barcelona fans may be upset at Neymar’s move, the players all wished the departing star good luck for his career – clearly, there are no hard feelings within the Barcelona camp.

Meanwhile, Brazil legend Pele, the man Neymar hopes to emulate, congratulated his compatriot on the move, and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford posted a picture of himself with Neymar from earlier this season while also congratulating the Brazilian.

And Brazilians Lucas Moura and Marquinhos were the first PSG players to welcome their new teammate on social media.

*Pictures translated using Google Translate

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