Once upon a time, at the beginning of this 2017-18 Ligue 1 season, Neymar Santos Jr. was hailed as a hero, a king that would help lead Unai Emery’s Paris Saint-Germain Football Club to a vein of trophies and increase the profile of the competition. Months later, Paris reclaimed the Ligue 1 trophy and defended the Trophee des Champions, the Coupe de La Ligue and the Coupe de France. Neymar was injured late in the year. The club that eliminated PSG in the UEFA Champions League? The club Neymar now pursues: Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid Club de Futbol, the defending European and World Champions.
Driven by greed, petulance, an unwillingness to defend the colors of the French Republic’s capital city, a vendetta with the level of difficulty in Ligue 1 and a price tag that veils the true value of his worth, Neymar had committed a grave sin against the Paris Saint-Germain Football Club by hosting secret talks about an exit to Madrid and oust Cristiano Ronaldo in a bid to escape Lionel Messi’s shadow forever.
It is a betrayal that has rocked French club football to its foundations and will trigger a reckoning not unlike the storming of the Bastille and the imminent aftermath centuries ago. With a need to balance the books in the name of Financial Fair Play, Nasser Al-Khelaifi has no choice but to lay the guillotine on Neymar’s contract and allow Florentino Perez to pay a heavy ransom while at the same time anoint young Kylian Mbappe as the new king of the throne.
A young lad by the name of Vinicius Junior is set to fall in with Neymar should that happen. Vinicius is 17 and will join Real Madrid when he turns 18. A Brazilian combination of Vinicius Junior and Neymar Jr. will form the nucleus of a new-look Real Madrid attack as they hope to maintain having the final say in European and world club football.
Neymar wouldn’t be the only player leaving the club this summer if he chooses to make the jump. The next two weeks will be the end of the line for many PSG stars who are now playing to get noticed by names abroad. Layvin Kurzawa is being pursued by Arsenal and Atletico de Madrid. Ryan Sessegnon of Fulham is a target for PSG’s 2018-19 list. Edinson Cavani, despite showing his love for the shirt, is being pursued by Chelsea, who have a down season. And Christian Eriksen of Spurs is coveted by incoming manager Thomas Tuchel as a priority acquisition.
With all the domestic trophies captured by PSG, the race is on to balance the books, ship out the dead weight and resolve the imminent reckoning that Neymar Santos Jr. has initiated. The worst-case scenario is that PSG are not allowed to compete in the UEFA Champions League next season. A hefty fine and a transfer ban look to be a strong possibility. UEFA’s final decision in June could derail PSG’s domestic campaign before it even gets started, and that is what the brains trust in Nyon, Switzerland, must consider before taking an appropriate course of action.
As for the fans, the writing is on the wall. The Colectif Ultras Paris value loyalty, a love for the shirt and dedication to playing for their city while honing their craft. The CUP are obligated to treat Neymar the same way the Marseille Ultras treated Patrice Evra in his audacious brain explosion in the UEFA Europa League.
A noble footballer knows that he or she is not bigger than the team and club he or she represents. Neymar’s conduct this season has run afoul of this rule which incorporated common logic, common sense and respect. In the great city of Paris, the light dims ahead of what would be a grand party of parties. Instead, it shines light on a reckoning ahead of the end of the road to Russia.