When our aspirations conflict with the truth of our circumstances; when we are faced with a challenging choice in life; when we must choose between being passive or taking action to shape our future.
Currently, Neymar finds himself at a pivotal moment.
A 21st century football brand fueled by endless promise; a nouveau-riche social, commercial and cultural phenomena; a superstar who’s no stranger to the scrutiny of the public eye.
However, when it comes to the grandeur of the Champions League in European football, he finds himself stuck in a never-ending cycle of repetition.
Although he was only a one-time winner, Lionel Messi received valuable support from his highly talented South American teammates, Luis Suarez and the famed ‘MSN’ trio at Barcelona.
Twice, unfortunate events have hindered the Brazilian wonderkid from taking control of the competition while wearing the red and blue of Paris Saint-Germain.
We are now in the year 2020. Will this be Neymar’s chance to shine?
There are currently three games remaining that will determine whether the ‘Red Pill’ of European enlightenment or the ‘Blue Pill’ of another addition to the 28-year-old’s growing Wikipedia page will prevail.
Fernando Kallás, a Brazilian football journalist, believes that this is the year where he can truly make up for his past mistakes. He believes that these three upcoming games have the potential to completely change the course of his career. Kallás also expresses doubt that he will ever have another chance like this.
The greatest error ever made in the world of sports.
Ever since they first arrived in Paris in June 2011, the Qatari investors of PSG have been transparent about their ultimate ambition – to dominate the European stage.
At home, there has been a period marked by continuous success. Seven championships in the top league and five French cup wins, with four of those being triple victories in six years.
If Europe were a lock, they have been endlessly looking for the locksmith who holds the key. They have attempted to unlock it seven times without success, with each attempt becoming more agonizing and disappointing than the previous one.
According to French football expert Jonathan Johnson, there is a predetermined timeline for each season and as it progresses, it appears that PSG is drifting further and further away. This can be attributed to the pressure of their past record.
In August 2017, the world witnessed a historic event with Neymar’s record-breaking transfer from Barcelona for an astonishing $263 million. This move was expected to bring in a savior for the team.
Formerly a supporting vocalist to Messi and Suarez, but now the main act with permission to mesmerize and achieve the title of world’s best.
For some individuals, it was a significant turning point, but for Kallás, it still stands as the most significant error in the sports world.
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A love-hate relationship
As he looked back on the three-year anniversary of his relocation, the striker expressed that it was a time of great learning. He experienced both moments of happiness and challenges.
His connection with fans in the romantic city has gone through all the stages of Facebook relationship statuses, from ‘Married’ to ‘Separated’ to ‘It’s complicated.’
The lingering presence of a former lover in Catalonia adds to the allure.
Last summer, there was a lengthy and unsuccessful attempt to serenade the Brazilian player back to the Camp Nou. This caused tension in Paris to escalate.
The mixed feelings towards the divisive individual were exemplified during the celebrity’s initial game of the 2019-20 season.
For the entire 90 minutes, he was continuously booed until he scored a magnificent bicycle kick that won the game at the last second. This left half of the doubters captivated while the other half were furious.
Kallás paints a picture of jury similarly split down the middle along generational lines in Brazil – the young pretenders who adore “the image, the smile, the tattoos” contrasted with the old guard who are “really concerned about him.”
The tensions of the Cold War in Paris have subsided, and it has been acknowledged that returning to the future is not a pressing possibility at the moment.
According to Johnson, he has shown both on and off the field that he is dedicated to the project. He must fully embrace the challenge of being a PSG player and strive to achieve success, particularly in the Champions League while playing in Paris.
Although changes have been made on the field, there are still uncertainties off the field.
Is the boy going to grow into a man?
Neymar’s personal life has – at times – borne the hallmarks of a gripping telenovela – filled with intrigue, and all supported by an ensembled entourage.
The previous year, the Brazilian model’s accusation of rape and assault against the former captain of Brazil was disproven.
This year, he was unable to play in a league game due to an injury, just two days after throwing a grand birthday celebration at a nightclub in Paris.
Will the boy ever grow into a man, or will those who support him lose hope?
“In Brazil, there is a saying that refers to Neymar as an unfulfilled promise… that he is known as “Baby Neymar” – despite not actually being a child… He must face reality and mature,” states Kallás, who has closely observed Neymar’s struggles and successes both on and off the field.
“When he is playing, he consistently performs well. I have never received any complaints from a coach or teammate about his behavior during training or in the locker room.”
Playing classic games with Neymar on COPA90.
Despite his accomplishments in goals, assists, and winning trophies, the star player has been hindered by circumstances beyond his control. Both history and biology have prevented him from having a chance to shine in the most prestigious European club competition.
PSG’s shortened seasons in 2018 and 2019, caused by injuries, aligned with their early eliminations from the round of 16 by Real Madrid and Manchester United, respectively.
Johnson explains that the remainder of this campaign is crucial and that is why he will be closely monitored.
“It’s now or never”
The finale of this year’s tournament has been greatly altered by the Covid-19 pandemic, which may work in favor of PSG.
Gone are the two-legged knockout affairs from the quarterfinal stages onwards, replaced instead by single-leg shoot outs – all within the bubble of Lisbon.
With Edinson Cavani no longer on the team and Kylian Mbappé currently injured, the spotlight is on Neymar.
The quarterfinals will bring a surprise package from Atalanta, followed by a potential match against the tough Atlético Madrid in the semifinals. After that, the winner-takes-all final is anyone’s game.
The Brazilian player’s contract is scheduled to end in 2022, coinciding with the World Cup in Qatar. This will most likely be his final appearance for the national team, making it a critical moment.
“We constantly declare, ‘This year will be the year. No, this year will be the year. No, this year will be the year’… He is currently 28 years old, an age typically considered the prime of a career, but he has not reached that level… This is his final opportunity.”
The soap opera has experienced unexpected plot twists, periods of insanity, and moments of brilliance. The responsibility now falls on its main character to create a memorable ending for the show.