The Trouble with Neymar
Neymar, at his PSG presentation, 2017Antoine Dellenbach

The Trouble with Neymar

Or, a few reasons why one of the best footballers in the world must frustrate both himself and his fans

June 13, 2014

The ungodly hours of early morning. I have bargained with my mother to let me stay up and watch the opening match of the FIFA World Cup. Brazil vs Croatia. I am on the couch, glued to the television, watching Brazil dominate their opponents with a comprehensive 3-1 win, aided by a passionate home crowd.

This young kid on the Brazilian team scores two goals. He has run the opposition ragged today. He signed for FC Barcelona, one of the biggest teams in the world, a year ago.

Neymar, Brazil’s prodigal son, has just returned home.

August 4, 2017

Neymar, one of football’s biggest talents, sends shockwaves through the footballing world by quitting a hugely successful stint at Barcelona and signing for Paris Saint-Germain for a world record transfer fee (€222million). Just a year ago, he has led Brazil’s under-23 team to Olympic Gold.

He is already a star. Surely, he is on his way to becoming a megastar.

Neymar is on top of the world.

July 6, 2018

Brazil crash out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the quarterfinal stage, with a 2-1 loss to Belgium. This is the second consecutive World Cup Brazil have failed to win.

Neymar has been woeful today, and has not covered himself in glory at all, rolling around on the ground looking for fouls. This gives birth to a new viral meme: Rolling Neymar.

Neymar: Player, Brand, Icon is in danger of being forgotten.


The first time I ever heard of Neymar was in 2012, when he won the FIFA Puskas Award (awarded for the best goal of the year). He was just 20 then, playing at Santos FC, a Brazilian club.

“Santos, they’re a good club. Pele used to play for them you know,” my grandfather told me.

Pele, huh? Not bad.

Fast forward a year, and he had signed for arguably the biggest club in the world at the time, FC Barcelona. He would be rubbing shoulders with great players like Messi, Iniesta, and Xavi. Thus began a trophy-laden 4-year spell at Barcelona which would see Neymar win every single club football trophy it is possible for a top European side to win. As one-third of the famous MSN (Messi, Suarez, Neymar) trio of Barcelona attackers, Neymar laid genuine claim to being one of the best players in the world.

Despite seemingly having ‘completed’ football before 25, deep down Neymar himself, and indeed every football fan along with him, would have known that if he had to reach his true individual peak as a player, he would have to leave the club that had made him a star. You see, no matter what he did at Barcelona, he would always be under the shadow of his teammate Lionel Messi. Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest footballer to ever live.

So, move he did. The world record transfer to Paris came along with a lot of French fanfare and broken Catalan hearts. Neymar, however, was ready to get himself to the next level. He had the world at his feet, and expectations to match. He was ready to show everyone what Neymar could do by himself, not being ‘carried’ to glory by others like Messi.

And then it all seemed to go wrong. Despite showing sparks of brilliance, Neymar has never shown the consistency that people expect from top players, and, as a result, people have stopped talking about him as one of the best players in the world.

When he is on song, Neymar is a joy to watch. He practically glides around the football field. His ball control is simply otherworldly, and very few players have the ability or the confidence to successfully pull off trick moves in match situations as consistently as he does. Ask any football fan, however, what they think of Neymar, and chances are they’ll say they don’t like him. With good reason, too. Neymar has the reputation of being a ‘diver’, that is, when he comes in contact with an opposition player, he goes to ground easily, with the objective of drawing a foul. It is really a shame that a player of his caliber has to resort to cheap tricks like this. His dedication towards the sport has also been called into question, with Neymar often being out injured while playing for PSG, yet somehow being spotted partying elsewhere.


August 23, 2020

70 goals in 85 games for PSG is an incredible return, but Neymar has still not managed to lead his team to the trophy he craved most: The Champions League. The tournament where the best clubs in Europe play against each other.

PSG are in the Champions League Final, up against Bayern Munich of Germany, arguably the most organized team in the world. Neymar knows that if he wins this match, the legacy of his individual brilliance will be cemented.

Nothing goes according to plan, however, as Bayern Munich eke out a narrow 1-0 victory, with Neymar missing relatively simple chances to score in both halves of the match. He is in tears when the final whistle is blown; he knows this was his best chance to win something significant with this team.

September 14, 2020

PSG lose 1-0 in an important domestic league match against Marseille. Neymar is shown the red card in the dying moments of the match after getting involved in an ugly brawl with his opponents. Later news comes out that he may have racially abused one of the opposition players.


I love watching Neymar play. Lord knows he’s an artist with the ball at his feet. Why does he have to frustrate his millions of admirers all over the world with his antics, though? That’s the trouble with Neymar. We may never quite understand why.

Ahan Kumar Sen is a Second Year student of Mass Communication at Symbiosis University, Pune. He is a self described film buff and also loves football. "I'm Bengali - it comes with the territory", he says.

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