When Neymar left Barcelona to join Paris Saint Germain in the summer of 2017, it was a move that was well believed to unleash unearthed potentials from the Brazilian.
Prior to his move to France, reports suggested the former Santos player was fed up of being in Mr Barcelona’s shadow: Lionel Messi himself.
Despite forming a much-feared partnership trio with the latter and Luis Suarez, Neymar wanted more and felt a player of his calibre should have a team built around him.
His quest for more individual recognition was what fueled his move to the French champions even after his father (also his agent) tried to persuade him to stay at the Spanish club.
Last Saturday made it exactly two years since he left Spain in a move that saw him become the world’s most expensive player in the process.
However, the Brazil forward has hit the football headlines for both the right and wrong reasons since swapping the Spanish giants for Paris Saint Germain.
The 27-year-old might have scored 34 goals in 37 league appearances to help them to consecutive Ligue 1 titles.
But he’s also been banned for three games for lashing out at a fan after PSG’s shock French Cup final defeat, reportedly been involved in a dressing-room incident with his team-mates, and will miss his next three European matches for insulting officials.
If you think that’s bad enough it gets worse. He was also stripped of the Brazil captaincy just before their home Copa America and off the pitch was the subject of a rape allegation case with a model in his hometown.
He was also once involved in a famous penalty bust-up with teammate Edinson Cavani – who also is the club’s all-time goalscorer.
Just barely two years on from his world record 222m euros (£200m) transfer, Neymar’s spell at Parc des Princes could be nearing an end.
“I do not want to play more in PSG. I want to go back to my house, where I should never have left,” he allegedly told PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi in a text message, as reported by Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo.
Taking all this into consideration, what happens next for the Brazilian? What are the options he has to revive his once promising career?.
A Return To Barcelona?
Rumours have circulated in recent weeks that Neymar could return to FC Barcelona, but his recurring injuries and tarnished image could put off the Catalan club where Neymar played from 2013 to 2017 before his record 222 million euro transfer to PSG.
Senior Barcelona players would be very happy to welcome Neymar back.
He gets on extremely well with Messi, [Luis] Suarez and [Gerard] Pique – the three pillars of the Barcelona side – and this fact puts quite an interesting slant on it.
However, latest reports indicate Barcelona vice-president Jordi Cardoner has dismissed the club bringing Neymar back to Spain.
That all but means a late summer move back under the shadow of Messi is ruled out and he will have to explore other options going forward.
A Move To The Premier League?
On paper, this might look like a good option for the Brazilian. If anything is to go by, trends show that a good majority of players that move to England from Spain seem to do well.
However, two factors come to mind in the reality of this possibility. At 27, he’s getting old(in the football sense) and clubs would naturally be scared to gamble a huge amount in that regard.
PSG will expect no less than 150m for the Brazilian and with that in mind, only two EPL clubs can afford him, realistically.
Yes, you probably guessed right. They are the Manchester clubs.
Manchester City, however, are in limbo as they are currently undergoing investigations for breaching FFP rules. A scenario that might see them get expelled from the Champions League if found guilty.
Going by that, they won’t want to think of making a transfer that would raise eyebrows and it’s fair to say they won’t ever think of Neymar.
Even without FFP restrictions, City look complete and you sense that they don’t need another “marquee” forward.
To put that into perspective, Leroy Sane, for all of his abilities still struggles for game time and it’s interesting to note that he plays the exact position as Neymar.
A more probable option on paper will be Manchester United although the Red Devils are not what they used to be.
United have lost the “appealing” power they had over the years and the absence of a “big name coach” doesn’t help the narrative either.
Also, United’s style of play at the moment doesn’t seem to suit Neymar and it could be a counter move for the Brazilian should he ever find himself in the red colours of United.
Stay At PSG
The last and reasonable option for Neymar will be to stay at the club and salvage his legacy.
Unfortunately, it seems like his legacy hasn’t even started. The reason which the PSG hierarchy signed him for; the Champions League, he’s been significantly absent when they needed him the most.
He has played only one knockout stage fixture since his move to the club and one can only imagine if they would have progressed further with him on the pitch.
He has not made any noteworthy performance like he did in the 6-1 victory against his current club while he was still in Barcelona colours.
We know what Neymar is capable of doing and on a good day he is one of the top players in the world.
For someone that was greatly tipped to be the heir apparent when the Messi-Ronaldo era is over, it suddenly seems like he might zone off with them as things currently stand.
At 27, he still has two or three good seasons to play at the top level and there is still time for him to make something meaningful of his legacy.
If he can manage to stay injury-free and inspire his side to Champions League glory, it’ll be a good way to get back up to the top player we know he is.
Neymar is still very much needed at PSG and will always be an integral squad player wherever he is.
The 27-year-old still has lots to offer and in due time we will see how his decisions ultimately define his career as a whole.