When PSG signed Neymar, they had one goal in their collective minds: winning the Champions League. They followed up the world’s most expensive transfer by signing Kylian Mbappe from Monaco, who wasn’t cheap either. This gave PSG instant legitimacy in Champions League.
An amazing front three including the aforementioned Neymar and Mbappe to go along with Edinson Cavani meant PSG could go head-to-head with the biggest clubs in Europe for firepower. Overall, before the season started, the Parisians looked like the dark horses to win the Champions League last year.
Then, the season started, and boy did they look promising. Beating Bayern Munich in Paris and then going on to break the record for most goals scored in the Champions League Group Stages, scoring 25 in their 6 fixtures despite losing the return fixture in Bavaria.
Unfortunately for them, they ran into a very strong Real Madrid side in the last-16 and the eventual champions brought the curtains down for the French club. Their lack of cohesion was expertly exploited by Zinedine Zidane’s side, as the Spaniards ran out 5-2 aggregate winners eventually.
But you got the feeling that all was not well with the French club’s front three. Constant rumours of bickering between Neymar and Cavani didn’t help. Then, there was that penalty. And, while that situation was later defused, you could’ve sensed that the tension was building up in Paris.
So, PSG got rid of Unai Emery after the season and brought in Thomas Tuchel, supposedly the better man manager following his exploits with Borussia Dortmund. Unfortunately for them, the coaching change hasn’t gotten the anywhere.
It was clear when Neymar left Barcelona that he was doing so to be his own man. Following four largely successful years at the Camp Nou, it was time for Neymar to show the world that he can lead his team, and that he could challenge his former teammate Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the title of the best player in the world.
Unfortunately, that has simply not happened. Edi Cavani has proven to be slightly less accommodating than Luis Suarez was, and Kylian Mbappe is not just any other 19-year-old.
The Frenchman is already the best teenager in the world and is only getting better. Blessed with thundering pace and a cool head, Kylian Mbappe can score goals for fun, and make football look like fun, as witnessed at this summer’s World Cup. And it is his World Cup winning contributions that have once again taken the spotlight away from Neymar. A spotlight he very much loves having on himself.
This has ensured that the rumours coming out of the Brazilian’s camp suggest that he might have made a mistake in leaving Camp Nou. The results for PSG in the Champions League have not helped. They were outgunned at Anfield and then forced into two stalemates against Napoli. That has left them reeling in their group, needing to beat Liverpool in Paris to have any realistic chance of winning the group.
It is safe to say that there is lot riding on this clash for PSG’s Champions League dream as well. The project that started with the signing of Neymar is hanging in the balance at the moment.
A loss could even mean that the club would have a significant chance of dropping down to the Europa League and that will only heighten all the transfer speculation around their Brazilian star, while a win could prove to Neymar and his camp that PSG are on the right track to helping him fulfil his dream.
It is therefore okay to say that it is make or break time for Operation Neymar in Paris.