With the football season back in full swing, we’ve finally had the chance to assess everyone’s summer spending. And with nearly four billion pounds spent across Europe’s top five leagues, we should expect plenty of dramatic games over the coming months, especially in Europe’s elite competition: the UEFA Champions League.
One team that’s certainly hoping to see their investment come good is Paris Saint Germain (PSG). Having spent a world record fee of €222 million on Neymar Jr, they’re desperate to compete with the other giants of the game and finally add more than the Ligue 1 trophy to their cabinet. But does pinching one of your rivals most exciting and talented players guarantee success? Let’s find out!
The 2016/17 Bottle Job
Neymar’s shock summer move to PSG came in the wake of an uncharacteristically poor season for Unai Emery’s side. Finishing as runners up in Ligue 1 to a youthful and energetic Monaco team, PSG were far too reliant on Edinson Cavani to provide goals, having released Zlatan Ibrahimović in that summer’s transfer window. Indeed, the Uruguayan forward found the back of the net 49 times in all competitions, with the closest rival being Lucas Moura, who only scored 13 times and has since lost his place in the starting XI.
And let’s not forget the complete meltdown at the Nou Camp during the Champions League round of 16, which saw PSG throw away a 4-0 aggregate lead to lose 6-5 to Barcelona – two goals of which were scored by Neymar Jr. This shocking turnaround only served to highlight PSG’s European naivety, as well as their lack of ferocity against the big boys of the competition. So, it’s no wonder they set out to improve their firepower with the acquisition of the man who tore them apart, as well as their league rival’s young starlet, Kylian Mbappé.
The 222 Million Euro Man
As with all record-breaking transfers, there comes an insane level of expectation, especially for a player this caliber. But since making his debut in the French capital Neymar Jr hasn’t disappointed. With six goals and five assists in his first seven Ligue 1 appearances, the Brazilian wonderkid has certainly hit the ground running. Not only is his personal goal tally meeting expectation, the dynamic, and often feisty, partnership he’s formed with Edinson Cavani is also proving fruitful, with the number nine scoring eight goals this season.
But how does all this translate to European success? And is Neymar having the desired impact? Well, with two goals and two assists in two Champions League games, we’ll let you be the judge!
In their second group game of the campaign, PSG demolished Bayern Munich 3-0, with both Cavani and Neymar getting on the score sheet. Where you might expect a team of this talent to turn over lesser opposition – like they did with Celtic – the fact that they did it to a giant of the game shows how much they’ve matured since last season. And the impact Neymar has had, both in terms of goals and belief on the pitch, is hard to overlook. It wouldn’t be a bad bet that he’ll produce more goals and assists as the competition wears on, and if you’re new to betting, check out this elaborate football betting guide.
How Do They Compare?
It’s all well and good dominating the domestic league – and being top of their Champions’ League group is certainly a statement – but PSG’s European success in these early stages can only really be compared to their closest rivals. While some of the competition’s recent stalwarts are floundering, such as Juventus, Atletico Madrid, and Bayern, there’s plenty of new blood waiting in the wings.
Indeed, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Tottenham Hotspur have produced fine performances to remain unbeaten, while Real Madrid and Barcelona have been, predictably, untroubled. If PSG are going to keep up with their rivals, it’s important that the goals keep coming. Harry Kane alone has as many goals as Neymar and Cavani combined; and while Neymar has chipped in with assists, he’ll need to replicate the scoring feats of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kane, and Romelu Lukaku if PSG have any hope of making it to the final.
Can PSG Go All the Way?
To cut a long story short: why not? It’s been a while since Europe’s elite competition had so many potential contenders, with plenty of star players looking to make their mark on history. After the departure of Ibrahimović, PSG struggled to boss their domestic competition like they had in previous seasons, and the lack of a talismanic figure cost them dearly in the 2016/17 Champions League. But by luring one of the best players in the world to their side, they’ve shown a real determination to succeed – and with the Brazilian wizard on the pitch, anything is possible.