Will Neymar be a midfielder in Qatar?
The question is incredibly more interesting than just a tactical one. The Brazilian manager Tite sees Brazil as having some names that just can’t be in the starting XI.
That said, what to do with Neymar? Vini Jr. simply scored a key goal for Real Madrid to win the last UEFA Champions League final. How could he bench him? Raphinha is also performing magnificently. The same applies to Richarlison.
But Neymar has an ego that is proven to be difficult to manage. It would be hard to imagine the player accepting a situation like this, a position change to help the team, that likely would affect his capacity to be a top scorer, and become an assist machine.
The meaning of the Brazilian Selection to Neymar
Neymar seems to enjoy the attention of being the protagonist wherever he is. That certainly was the main reason to leave Barcelona. He wanted the number 10 on his back. And he got it.
But at PSG he never tried as hard as he did in Barcelona. He was a young boy when he was sold to Barcelona, and he definitely looked up to Messi and Suárez at first. But he eventually wanted to be the star.
Neymar is indeed likely to do whatever Tite asks him to do. But the reason for that is the special meaning of the international selection in comparison with his club.
Not that into PSG as it seems?
We have a World Cup in a different spot on the calendar in comparison with… every other World Cup! Considering that I’ve been following Neymar’s career since his early days at Santos, as a professional football betting analyst, I believe it’s fair to speculate he won’t be the same after the World Cup back in Paris.
If Brazil, the current favourites of the sports betting markets to win the World Cup with average odds of 5.0, do lift their sixth trophy, then what the Brazilian press calls a ‘sports hungover’ may happen and his motivation to arrive in good shape in Qatar may disappear for good.
If Brazil fails once more to win a title that Brazilians have been demanding for 20 years, then we are likely to see some sort of January blues on steroids for Neymar.
The reason behind Neymar’s current form
Neymar is living an odd moment and the Brazilian press was spot on to see it. His usual interest in several other things than football, including parties, and his love for eSports which may consume a bit too much of his energy, all these things are explained by his goal to arrive in good shape in Qatar. At least in theory.
Since his arrival in Paris, Neymar has left the PSG grounds to visit Brazil for leisure purposes whenever he had a chance. On a famous occasion, during an ankle injury, instead of staying in Paris and maybe hiring a private tutor for some intensive French lessons, he visited Brazil during the carnival, reportedly to try to meet a certain female celebrity.
Neymar is prone to distraction and even Ronaldo Nazário has pointed out this in a public statement.
In summary, Neymar may eventually be a fantastic attacking midfielder and an assist machine during the World Cup. But that ‘fondness’ for the position might not last long. For someone who loves the spotlight, then scoring goals is a lot more interesting than helping your teammates to do that.
Time will tell how Neymar will perform wearing the colours of PSG after the World Cup, but there are good chances we’ll see a very different player.