The world’s most expensive footballer wants to be able choose which matches he appears in for Paris Saint-Germain and has added Unai Emery’s reluctance to offer the freedom to miss certain games to a litany of complaints about his club coach.
Neymar joined PSG a little under four months ago upon being bought out of his Barcelona contract for a record €222million. According to a well-placed source, the unprecedented salary that accompanied the Brazil international’s switch has not prevented Neymar from being vocal in his discontent with Emery.
The forward embroiled himself in an on-field dispute with Edinson Cavani over the right to take penalties and free kicks in a mid-September league meeting with Olympique Lyonnais, which Emery subsequently failed to settle to his satisfaction. Neymar has also bemoaned the team’s style of play and the coach’s man management.
Emery is under severe pressure at PSG despite the Qatar-owned club’s unbeaten start to the Ligue 1 season and record breaking goalscoring exploits in the Champions League group stage. Sporting director Antero Henrique has approached a series of high-profile candidates about replacing the Spaniard at the end of the current campaign.
With reports of Neymar and other players’ disgruntlement with Emery repeatedly appearing, Antero has also drawn up a contingency plan should a decision be made to dismiss the coach in mid-season. In such circumstances, PSG would look to make an interim appointment on a half-season contract with a view to reassessing managerial strategy next year.
“Neymar is really upset with Emery,” said a source. “Because of Cavani, style of play, and privileges Neymar wants. He wants to be able to decide when he doesn’t have to play a game.”
The Brazilian has failed to appear in three Ligue 1 matches since being registered as a PSG player. He was suspended for the October 27 home win over Nice following a red card and has missed two further fixtures with what the club reported as injuries: A 0-0 draw at Montpellier in the match that followed his conflict with Cavani, and a 5-0 win at Angers ahead of this month’s international break.
“Neymar had a small blow to his muscle and didn’t feel well this morning,” said Emery ahead of the Angers match. “I spoke with the doctors and with him and we decided it’s best if he stays in Paris.”
That “small blow” did not prevent Neymar from joining Brazil on national team duty, starting both a 3-1 friendly victory over Japan six days later and a goalless draw with England at Wembley. While with Brazil, Neymar also left a nationally televised press conference in tears when asked about his issues at PSG.
“I’m really fine in Paris, I’m happy,” said Neymar. “My motivation is to be a player who gives everything on the pitch. In the end, there is one thing that bothers me a lot. I don’t have a single problem with Cavani, nor do I have a single problem with the coach, I want you to stop inventing stories that I am having problems with the coach.
“I came to help, to contribute. I came to help my coach. It’s something that has been bothering me, I even talked about it with Tite, so I beg you to stop. I’m not angry, I’m not pissed off. I came here of my own will to say what I think. I am very realistic, I don’t like the noises and the stories. What I say will upset the people who think they know everything, but don’t know anything. Therefore it’s easier for them to hear it from my mouth. I don’t have any problems at PSG.”
Neymar’s history of missing club fixtures while at Barcelona is such that Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos joked about it while discussing the possibility of his club bringing the Brazilian from PSG in a future transfer window. “I like to play with the best and Neymar is one of them,” Ramos said in an interview with Spanish radio station Cadena SER earlier this month. “What we would have to negotiate is his sister’s birthday.”
In each of his last three campaigns as a Barcelona player, Neymar missed a match scheduled close to the March 11 date of his sister Rafaella Beckran’s birth. The Brazilian has an image of her tattooed on his right arm. PSG are due to play Metz in the French capital on March 10.
A PSG spokesperson said: “PSG does not give any preferential treatment to anyone. It is the coach and only the coach who decides on the composition of his team.”