Neymar
Opinion

Why Neymar's new deal could lead to continental domination

Publish on 11/05/2021 at 05:43 - D. CROSSAN

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Neymar's long-term contract extension is a statement of Paris Saint-Germain's burning ambition to break their Champions League duck.

Neymar's signing from Barcelona in 2017 for a world record fee of 222 million euros was  a coup for the club from the French capital, giving new impetus to a project that started when the Qatari takeover took place in 2011. The Brazilian penning a new deal, taking him to 2025 with the option for a further year, is almost as significant. As PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino said: "Paris Saint-Germain's ambition is there. Neymar's extension is proof of that in the short, medium and long term."

With Paris Saint-Germain in danger of missing out on the Ligue 1 Uber Eats title for the first time since 2017 and knocked out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage by Manchester City, the club needed a lift and the announcement of Neymar's new deal on Saturday certainly provided that, even if the number 10's goal from the penalty spot the following day couldn't prevent PSG dropping two points at Rennes to leave Lille heavy favourites to become French champions.

Mbappé to follow suit? 

Neymar's previous contract was due to expire in 2022 and the forward's extension could incite Kylian Mbappé - who also joined in 2017 and whose contract is up in 2022 - to follow suit. Having the two global superstars locked in would give long-term visibility to Pochettino and sporting director Leonardo as they ponder how to ensure the 2020 UEFA Champions League finalists go one better in the very near future.

At 29, Neymar's biggest unfulfilled club ambition is winning the Champions League with PSG and that can only be good news for the club. Neymar said: "The truth is that I'm very happy to be staying here for four more years, to be a part of the club's project , to try to win titles, to try to achieve our biggest dream which is winning the Champions League."

Of course, given Neymar's injury record since moving to the French game, there will be questions raised over the player's durability. Neymar has only played 113 matches in all competitions, missing around half of the club's games. When he has been free from injury and suspension, he has produced the goods, scoring 86 goals. While it is hard to see Neymar still turning out at the highest level at 39 like former PSG star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the coming seasons could turn out to be Neymar's peak years.

"Happiness" and maturity? 

Neymar repeatedly mentioned "happiness" when explaining why he'd committed to staying at PSG and such is his contentment that the Ligue 1 Uber Eats champions are likely to prove his second and final European club, something Barcelona fans will have to come to terms with.

Could it be that as his playing career advances we see a more mature Neymar? The petulance seen this season that led to red cards against Marseille and Lille must become a thing of the past. A more experienced Neymar also needs to know how to put his extravagant skills to the best service of the team. At times, he tries to do too much on his own and attempts the trick or dribble too far. Against Rennes, Neymar dropped far too deep in the second half, when the situation demanded that he tried to do damage in the final third.

Another aspect of the contract extension that must be reassuring to PSG fans, now used to success, is it signifies QSI's long-term commitment to the club. As Chairmand and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaïfi said: "I am proud that Neymar Jr has reaffirmed his long-term commitment to the PSG family through to 2025, and will continue to delight fans. We are very happy to see him continue as part of our project and to be alongside us for many years to come."

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