After missing the opening five games this season, Neymar Jr. finally suited up for Paris Saint-Germain in their Ligue 1 match against Strasbourg on Saturday, September 14. Despite scoring a very late match-winning goal, the Brazilian had to endure hostility from the home crowd. The match ended with PSG ahead, 1-0.
Neymar was met with boos, expletives and jeers right from the moment when his name was called at the start of the game. The boos escalated every time the 27-year-old striker touched the ball. The hostility was even more palpable when he took a corner or every time he made an attempt to score. When he finally scored at 90+2, some fans cheered but a good number still whistled and booed.
It was a brilliant acrobatic volley but the crowd hardly showed appreciation. Moments later, Neymar found the back of the net again, this time, he was denied by the VAR due to offside.
After the match, the BBC shared Neymar's reaction. "It is sad but I know that, from now on, every game I play will be an away game," he said.
The Brazilian admitted that he wanted to leave the club in the summer. He knows that this made the PSG fans more hostile towards him. However, he said that he wants to put the transfer saga behind him. "It is time to turn the page. Today I am a Paris St-Germain player and I am going to give everything on the field," he said.
Much has been said about Neymar's foiled attempt to return to FC Barcelona in the recently concluded summer transfer window. His former club reportedly made a cash plus player offer, but they failed to come to an agreement with PSG. After a lot of speculations and finger-pointing, the transfer window closed on Sept. 2 with no deal. Neymar was also briefly linked with Barca rivals Real Madrid. In the end, Neymar had to come back to a club whose fans have lost faith in him.
"I made it clear I have nothing against the fans, nothing against Paris St-Germain as a club. Everyone knows I wanted to leave. I am not going to get into the details of what happened," said Neymar.
Needless to say, his performance showed the fans exactly why he can still be an asset to the club. It remains to be seen how much he still needs to do to get them to warm up to him again. After all, they all have to make the best of the situation while he is still in a PSG kit.
He will have a big chance to win over the club's fans on Wednesday, when PSG hosts Real Madrid in their opening UEFA Champions League match of the season.