Icardi arrival pushes Neymar further into the shadows
Mauro Icardi's deadline day arrival at Paris Saint-Germain means Neymar will need to snap out of his sulk if he doesn't want to sit out the season.
After months of pleading, crying and stamping his feet in the hope of being released from his Parisian ‘prison’, Neymar was reportedly left in tears when the transfer window shut on Monday night and he hadn’t gotten his way over a move.
Both Barcelona and Real Madrid had tried and failed to bring the Brazilian back to Spain but in the end, PSG stood firm on wanting to recoup all of the £198million they splashed out when bringing him to the French capital in the summer of 2017.
Neymar now has two options. Carry on his early-summer plan of never playing for the French champions again or swallow his pride and prove to head coach Thomas Tuchel he is worthy of reintegration into the first-team.
Neymar’s stats – scoring 51 goals in 58 appearances for PSG – suggest he could be missed if left out but when you consider they have Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe to call upon, they are not hard up for attacking options.
The Ligue 1 champions then improved their arsenal further by adding Mauro Icardi to their ranks on transfer deadline day, bringing him in on a season-long loan with the option to buy.
As if the dressing room wasn’t combustible enough with Neymar amongst their ranks, the signing of Icardi could end up proving to be a mistake.
The Argentinian striker is a proven goalscorer, netting 124 goals in 219 appearances for Inter Milan but also has a track record of off-field issues.
Icardi infamously fell out with the Inter ultras twice while at the San Siro before being stripped of the captaincy last season. Meanwhile, the less said about how he and his wife Nara allegedly got together, the better.
Putting him and Neymar in the same dressing room is liable to lead to fireworks and Tuchel has a hard job on his hands keeping a lid on all the egos of his attacking talent.
If it comes down to a decision as to which player to appease, Neymar or Icardi, then surely the German will side with his new recruit.
Neymar made his position very clear in the summer but if he’s prepared to eat humble pie then he will at least have a hope of featuring in the first-half of the season, especially with Mbappe and Cavani currently out injured.
How do PSG fans feel about Neymar staying at the club? 🔵🔴 pic.twitter.com/ky1LAFbZSp
— Goal (@goal) September 3, 2019
However, if he doesn’t back down then it could be a long season on the sidelines for the world’s most expensive player with a January switch looking unlikely given the sums of money any deal involved.
The reports that Barcelona can’t afford any deal until at least next summer further limit Neymar’s options, leaving Real Madrid, who spent over £300million on new players during the most recent transfer window, as his only choice.
With Neymar reportedly fully fit, the line-up for PSG’s next match after the international break against Strasbourg at home will be highly intriguing.
Tuchel went with a front three of Angel Di Maria, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Pablo Sarabia for last Friday’s 2-0 win over Metz. Could Neymar suffer the indignity of being left on the bench while ex-Stoke striker Choupo-Moting keeps his place? The thought is likely to cross Tuchel’s mind.
Having burnt so many bridges with both the coaching and playing personnel, Neymar’s immediate future looks grim. The only hope for the Brazilian poster boy is to get back to focusing on his bread and butter with life on the field offering him a shot, albeit a slim one, at redemption.