Shortly after 11 pm this Saturday, in the harsh light of a theater chase, Neymar will brand the Hexagoal in the middle of an enamored Princes' Park. A second French Championship for the star actor of the L1, his undisputed star No. 1. The Brazilian, however, has been an intermittent spectacle in the conquest of this trophy, the only one season to the record for a poor team for the dimension of PSG. A disappointment in view of the expectations aroused by the arrival of the prodigy in the capital in the summer of 2017.
By buying the Barcelona departure clause for € 222 million, PSG had written its name on the world football map in huge letters. Natural candidate for the succession of icons Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the title of best player in the world, Neymar was the ideal gondola head to allow Paris to achieve its goal of becoming one of the largest franchises worldwide sport.
His genius ball, his handsome face and his tens of millions of fans on social networks have already allowed Paris to begin the return on investment. In the field, however, the record is in chiaroscuro. The brilliance of his flashes and shovel goals is blurred by the frustration born of the accumulation of his absences. His fractures of the right foot have spread two years in a row of the games of the spring, the time when everything is decided and especially everything wins.
Without Neymar, it is obviously more difficult. No. 10 came to Paris to win the Champions League and run for the Golden Ball. Now 27, he enters the most beautiful seasons of his career and they will write in Paris. Calls from Real Madrid's foot and Neymar's supposed lack of interest in PSG mentioned last summer have not reappeared. The involvement of the Brazilian since his return to the field and his more assertive leadership may illustrate a decisive change. As if Neymar wanted to take revenge after two half-hearted seasons.
THE SPORTY ONE. A star and its eclipses
/ LP / Olivier Lejeune
Neymar's sporting record after two seasons at PSG is a matter of point of view, side to side wonder, side facing a huge frustration. The statistics give an overview of this double reading. Never has a player counted such a statistical imprint on the PSG. In 58 games with Paris, the Brazilian scored 51 goals and 28 assists. Colossal. Since his signing in August 2017, another figure impresses: the 50 games that the former Barcelona failed, on suspension, sometimes on injury, most of the time.
When he played, Neymar broadly confirmed why PSG had broken the codes of world football, spending so much on snatching it from Barça. A level of potential Golden Ball game, by his dribbling, his grip on encounters and his brilliance. Ney has sometimes disappeared with his team, as in the first leg this season in Liverpool (3-2). The return to the same team, even without scoring, is a model of his incredible influence, one day when he takes the team in hand.
His triumph against the Red Star (6-1), this season, his performance against Bayern Munich (3-0) or his quadruple against Dijon (8-0), last year, are other recitals. In the final of the Coupe de France, lost to Rennes (2-2, 6 t.a.b to 5), he was one of the few at the level for 120 minutes, even returning from three months of absence. Upon his arrival, Tuchel had been very clear, believing that Santos's old man was "his key player". Despite the emergence of Mbappé, it is Neymar who remains the leader of the team of the capital and its cloakroom.
Unfortunately, in a cycle of the seasons of its own, Neymar disappears from the Parisian sky even before the spring tip his nose. His fracture of the fifth metatarsal right foot, against OM last year, deprived him of the second leg against Real Madrid, after a false suspense that polluted the life of the club. This year, the relapse against Strasbourg has excluded him from Manchester United. Debacles sustaining the regrets: "Oh if only Neymar had been there …"
These absences place the attacker in the same paradox as his club: when playing PSG, we are evaluated only on a handful of meetings in the season. The ones that really matter, especially in the spring, in the Champions League. And in this respect, in a cruel scenario of which the Brazilian is the victim and not the culprit, the account is not there.
THE BUSINESS. A commercial booster
/ LP / Teophile Pedrola
The commercial conquest of PSG is accelerating. After a first step, between 2012 (arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic) and 2016, the recruitment of Neymar, a bigger star than the Swede, brought a whole club to a boil. Especially in marketing offices at the headquarters of Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts-de-Seine).
If the red and blue club has allowed itself such an investment, it is because it had anticipated, too, the economic spinoffs. Numerous figures validate the Parisian strategy. Deloitte's study on the 2017-2018 season, the first of Neymar, showed Parisian revenue growth of 55.5 million euros, pushing PSG to sixth place in Europe with 541.7 million euros of total income, about 30 units of Manchester City. The study of the consulting firm Brand Finance, unveiled Thursday, even adds that the value of the PSG brand has jumped 20% in one year to 914 million euros. Astronomical.
"If there had been only Mbappé, who was not yet the world star of today in 2017, we would not have reached this economic point as quickly. Neymar has opened doors for us, it's clear, "recognizes a member of the club. Another factor symbolizes the financial success of the Neymar bet: the sale of jerseys. The Brazilian number 10 has no doubt allowed PSG to attract a new sponsorship deal with Jordan Brand. Consequence: Paris will exceed the million tunics sold in the world. Never seen for a French club.
With 116 million subscribers on Instagram (six times more than PSG!), Neymar represents a powerful marketing product, which goes far beyond Parisian interests. It is no coincidence that the TV rights of Ligue 1 exceeded one billion euros ten months after the arrival of the former Barça in France. Benefits that even a sports balance or a contrasting image do not hinder.
THE IMAGE. A star global and clivante
/ Redbull Contentpool / Flo Hagena
The altercation with a spectator at the end of the final of the Coupe de France, after a great match, summarizes the contrasting image returned by the Brazilian since his signing at PSG. That of a star with undeniable talent, but with unpredictability and on which its leaders have little control. This season, the number 10 had decided to show a cheering face after a World Cup where his roulades had tarnished his reputation. Regularly described as a player "happy in Paris", he flooded the Ligue 1 of his talent until his new injury January 23.
Is it seeing his body betray him once again? Or his personal goals (especially the Ballon d'Or) to flee him again? The player has returned to his shadow after this episode. His insults to PSG-Manchester United referees (1-3), his crusading at the Rio carnival or his birthday in great pomp, eight days of the Champions League eighth-final first leg reminded him of his ability to to set aside common rules.
That did not stop him from shining on the field as soon as he returned to competition on April 14th. And his laudators have opportunely insisted on the windfall of Ligue 1 to have such a gondola head. We can not give them wrong. And it is the paradox of Neymar that enjoys a divisive personality even in the ranks of his own supporters in Brazil and Paris.
Last season, some of them were chilled by his moods (a form of saudade) that they perceived as a lack of attachment to the club. Others believe that he could have saved the penalty with Cavani, or his game of poker online at the same time he was taking a look at PSG-Monaco sealing the Paris title on April 16, 2018. So many episodes which remind us that Neymar makes people talk, sometimes even beyond reason. And that it remains a formidable box of resonance of the news of the PSG. For good or for bad.