Neymar & Paris St-Germain: What next for world's most expensive footballer?

Neymar looking frustrated
Neymar joined PSG in August 2017 and has won two Ligue 1 titles with the French giants

It was supposed to be the move that saw Neymar step out of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi's shadow.

However, the Brazil forward has hit the football headlines for both the right and wrong reasons since swapping the Spanish giants for Paris St-Germain.

He's 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.

And he's been stripped of the Brazil captaincy just before their home Copa America.

Not even 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.

So what happens now? Does he return to Barcelona? Or perhaps a move to the Premier League?

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, journalists Tim Vickery, Miguel Delaney and Ben Haines discuss what happens next in the story of Neymar Jr.

The 'spoiled brat' or the 'easy to like' guy?

Vickery: 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 I think this puts quite an interesting slant on it.

I can't think of anyone so hated as Neymar is - and I can understand that to a degree. He does come across as a spoiled brat, but I think there is another side to him.

It is striking that most of his team-mates - certainly at Barcelona and the Brazilian national team - have a real bond with him, a very strong affection for him.

Delaney: I was talking with someone who has spent a lot of time with Neymar the other day. They said, for all the perception of him, when you meet him in person, one on one, he's actually got this natural charisma. He's easy to like and goes out of his way to help you.

But the issue is how he's been infantilised by his entourage, which is led by his father. That can bring out some of the worst aspects of his personality that we have seen at PSG.

Vickery: There are decisions taken within his entourage that we will never know who the actual defining voice is. But you wonder if the relationship with his father is perhaps something he needs to outgrow.

I would love to see him abandon the junior thing. He's 27. It's not the time for a grown man to go around calling yourself junior.

Was moving to PSG a 'massive mistake'?

Delaney: Ultimately, he realises the move to PSG has been a massive mistake.

From speaking with a few people that have worked with Neymar - or, more specifically, his entourage - there is worry about where his career is going. There is a lot of talk that he isn't training as well, that he's been too indulged at PSG, that he's lost sharpness.

Some of those most worried are saying his career is in danger of going off the rails. I think that's one massive reason why he needs to get out of that environment.

Vickery: I'm quite prepared to be in a tiny minority here - but I think there was a certain nobility in the move [to PSG]. Perhaps a wrong-headed quest, but a quest to be voted the best player in the world [win the Ballon d'Or]. It is a Brazilian obsession.

So many Brazilians won it in the previous two decades, it sets the bar. How could he win it when he was second fiddle in the Barcelona side? I think there was certainly nobility in the idea of going and being the leader of the pack at PSG.

Unfortunately, it's almost as if his time at PSG has never started.

He was signed for one thing and one thing alone: the knockout stages of the Champions League. So far, he's only played one game because of injuries, which is hardly his fault.

Neymar celebrates while a Barcelona player
Neymar won two La Liga titles and a Champions League with Barcelona

Delaney: A bigger problem - and this maybe cuts to the reason many thought it was a mistake to move to PSG in the first place - is that when you have one club with such an immense advantage over everybody else in the league, it means that no matter how he plays in those games, it doesn't really matter. It's completely irrelevant to his legacy.

When was the last time we saw a signature Neymar performance of the type he put in against PSG in the 6-1 win for Barcelona?

Haines: When you're trying to make an impact in a new place, if you're only playing 50% of the games, it's just not enough.

Even when he does do something for PSG in the league, it is immediately shot down by absolutely everyone for it being a "farmer's league" and doing it against defenders that wouldn't cut it anywhere else.

It leaves him in a position where he has to shine in the most enormous games - when he's probably lacking fitness, lacking a little bit of form, and lacking time against world-class defences.

Spain or elsewhere - where next for Neymar?

Vickery: He has very few options, because where can he go? One thing we haven't mentioned so far is the Premier League.

The Premier League is one of the very few competitions in the world with clubs that could afford him - but would they risk it?

He struggles with the physicality of Ligue 1. Could you imagine Neymar in the Premier League? Could you imagine what he would go through in terms of the reception to his diving and so on?

Do we imagine him there? If you can't, and that's probably the general view, then we're talking about Real Madrid or Barcelona.

Now that Real Madrid have got Eden Hazard, do they need Neymar as well?

Delaney: I don't think so. They've got [Luka] Jovic as well, so they have almost sorted their forward line.

I think it is almost indicative in itself that Neymar was arguably the second or third best player in the world for the past few years and Madrid have looked past him.

I remember hearing a year ago how desperate [Real president] Florentino Perez was for him, and that seems to have completely subsided to the point where you hear it more from Neymar's side than anyone to do with Madrid.

That ship seems to have sailed and it's all on Barcelona now.

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