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26 April, 2019 09:21:10 AM

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Injury-prone Neymar hasn't paid back €222m Barca transfer fee

Independent Online Desk/Goal.com
Injury-prone Neymar hasn't paid back €222m Barca transfer fee
The injury-prone megastar has not represented value for money since his shock €222 million move from Spain to France two years ago

"Today the investment that we did is long-term and I am sure in two years, three years maximum, everyone will say ‘look at Paris Saint-Germain, they did a fantastic job'."

Those were the words of Paris Saint-Germain's Qatari chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi to The Telegraph after the world record signing of Brazilian superstar Neymar from Barcelona.

The €222 million spent by PSG to sign Neymar in 2017 is still the biggest transfer fee ever paid by a club and, at the time, more than doubled the most spent on a footballer.

It was a decision that came about because PSG's owners, Qatar Sports Investment (QSI), needed to make a statement at the end of the 2016-17 season. The club had just lost the Ligue 1 title to Monaco and had suffered a humiliating capitulation to Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16.

Despite PSG thrashing Barca 4-0 in Paris in the first leg, Neymar sparked an incredible comeback in the return at Camp Nou.

He scored in the 88th and 91st minute before Sergi Roberto's strike on 95 minutes condemned PSG to a remarkable 6-1 loss on the night (6-5 on aggregate).

It was decided that the Samba icon was the man to inspire PSG to glory in the Champions League, the one trophy QSI are obsessed with winning.

The world record transfer fee was sanctioned by the Qataris to bring Neymar to Paris and also a clever loan and buy option (€180m) was arranged to secure another future superstar in Kylian Mbappe from Monaco.

Fast forward two years to the present and Mbappe celebrated PSG’s second consecutive Ligue 1 title on Sunday with a hat-trick against Monaco. He now has 30 Ligue 1 goals this season in 27 games, second only to Lionel Messi in Europe. Neymar, meanwhile, came on as a substitute in the second half to play his first match since breaking his foot in January.

Once again Neymar, who was signed to be PSG’s main man, was cast into a supporting role with his younger teammate Mbappe doing the heavy lifting on the score sheet.

The concern for PSG is that too often Neymar isn't even able to be part of the first team because of a wide range of fitness issues that have plagued him since moving to Paris.

It was only Neymar's 14th league appearance of the season. He has been absent for 17 of PSG's last 19 Ligue 1 matches because of the aforementioned foot injury and adductor issues - also missing both legs of the club's extraordinary Champions League round-of-16 defeat to Manchester United.

While it was initially suggested by some critics that PSG profited from Neymar's absence in the counter-attacking 2-0 victory at Old Trafford, there was no doubt he could have made a vital difference as they squandered chance after chance in the home leg before eventually losing to the Red Devils on away goals.

What makes the situation even more worrying for PSG is that it was the same story last season with Neymar's injury problems causing him to miss significant amounts of football.

Even though PSG won the title back from Monaco in 2017-18, Neymar only played 20 league matches as a metatarsal injury caused him to miss the last three months of the campaign - which also included the second leg of their Champions League round-of-16 exit to eventual winners Real Madrid.

In total, since joining the club, Neymar has missed 50 of PSG's 105 competitive matches for a variety of reasons including injury, suspension and being rested.

It must be said that when fit enough to take to the field, Neymar has performed at an extraordinary level, scoring 48 goals and getting 27 assists in his 54 games as a PSG player - winning two Ligue 1 titles and both domestic cups last season.

But Neymar wasn't signed as a player to bring domestic glory to a club that had won four of the last five league championships before his arrival. Indeed, Al-Khelaifi said as much at the player's unveiling as a PSG player.

"Today, with the arrival of Neymar Jr, I am convinced that we will come even closer, with the support of our faithful fans, to realizing our greatest dreams," Al-Khelaifi said .

Every European club dreams of winning the Champions League and PSG are no nearer to lifting the famed trophy since Neymar made the jump.

The sheer enormity of Neymar's transfer fee means he will be judged on his performances in PSG's biggest matches – just like Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus and Paul Pogba at Manchester United.

Al-Khelaifi believed he was getting value for money when he presented the player to the world: "Today, it might seem expensive. But in two years' time, it might not anymore."

So far that has proved to be a doomed prophecy.

HM

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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