Since his €222 million move from Barcelona, Neymar has proved a a divisive figure at Paris Saint-Germain.
The Brazil international’s fall-out with team-mate Edinson Cavani over which of the two forwards took a penalty awarded in PSG’s 2-0 victory over Lyon earlier in the season caused tension at the capital club, and his relationship with manager Unai Emery is evidently strained.
It’s not the first time Neymar has found it difficult to bow to the demands of his higher-ups, and Emery’s decision to side with Cavani over the aforementioned penalty has caused strain behind the scenes at PSG.
Neymar famously took on then-Santos manager Dorival Junior following a similar incident in which the coach refused to let the Brazilian take a spot-kick against Atletico GO, resulting in him losing his job.
“I am not here to make excuses,” Neymar said following the incident. “But to apologise to everyone who enjoys football. The real Neymar is not the Neymar you saw yesterday. The real Neymar is a joyful player, always happy and with a smile on his face. I came home and saw what I did, and I was embarrassed.”
Neymar may have eventually apologised for his reaction to the situation, but it only magnified his issues with following order. The 25-year-old has also held a public spat with Barcelona chiefs since his summer departure, though tension between Neymar and Barca backroom staff was reported before mention of a move away.
“He does not like any coach,” a source close to the player told Goal. “Ever since he has been in Santos, he has had problems with all his coaches, whether club or selection. He complained about Luis Enrique methods of work in general, his choices on the regular players and substitutes.
“The highlight was the blood drive against Unzue, Enrique’s assistant, when he told him to be careful not to finish like Ronaldinho and focus more on his football.”
Neymar has also taken issues with Emery’s pre-match preparation, and more specifically the Spaniard’s over-reliance on his video sessions. Emery’s set-up includes private instructions for Neymar in video form which the forward does not buy into.
The personal issues draw attention to a wider problem; a disconnect between Emery’s team and the Brazilian contingent at the Ligue 1 club.
Dani Alves is said to enjoy the former Sevilla manager’s style of coaching, though Thiago Silva and Lucas Moura, a close friend of Neymar who is yet to make a single league start this season, share the forward’s concerns.
Silva in particular, who publicly backed Neymar over the penalty incident, is said to have turned on the management as a result of Cavani taking the following spot-kick after his comments.
Is Neymar happy in Paris? It appears so. Will the Brazilian be able to repair his relationship with Emery? Only time will tell.