French club Paris Saint-Germain’s president Nasser Al-Khelaifi claimed on Sunday that the “celebrity behaviour” of the highly-paid footballers in the club will not be tolerated. He warned Neymar and other stars that they must shape-up or ship-out of the team. Also Read - Manchester United vs LASK: Lingard, Martial Strike as Red Devils Enter Europa League Quarterfinals
“The players will have to assume their responsibilities even more than before. It must be completely different, they will have to do more, work more,” Al-Khelaifi said, hinting at PSG’s failure to win any major European or International title despite owning one of the best teams filled by some of the world’s best players. Also Read - Virat Kohli Becomes First Indian to Cross 70 Million Followers on Instagram; Fourth Most Followed Sportsperson After Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi And Neymar
“They are not here to please themselves and if they do not agree, the doors are open. I do not want to have celebrity behaviour anymore. I have realised that changes were essential, otherwise we’re going nowhere,” although the Qatari owner didn’t name anyone it was clear that his words were intended at the Brazilian star Neymar. Also Read - Not Many Predicted That Manchester United Will Finish in Top-Four, Says Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
The 27-year-old Neymar was questioned by Brazilian police for five hours on Thursday over allegations he raped a woman he met through social media in a Paris hotel last month — charges he has denied.
Controversy has surrounded him in France also. Injured, he was forced to see his team knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester United in March. The footballer used obscene language on Instagram against the match officials after the game. He had written, “It’s a disgrace. They get four guys who don’t understand football to watch a slow motion replay in front of the TV.” As a result, he was handed a three-match suspension by UEFA which will see him out of action in PSG’s European opener next season.
Neymar then scored in PSG’s French Cup final defeat by Rennes but hit a supporter as he collects his runners-up medal at the Stade de France. He was given a further two-game ban while the Brazilian press branded him “coward” and called him “rebellious teenager”.
Brazil boss Tite took the skipper’s armband away from the 96-time international and gave it to club team-mate Dani Alves instead although it proved academic as Neymar was then ruled out of the Copa America due to an ankle ligament injury picked up in a friendly.
Al-Khelaifi’s outburst comes just days after former PSG sporting director Leonardo returned to the club in the same position replacing Antero Henrique. The Brazilian had already warned that no player should be above the “institution” of PSG, in an interview with Canal+ a few weeks after the arrival of Neymar in 2017. “It does not matter if Neymar is Neymar, if Cristiano Ronaldo is Cristiano Ronaldo, the club is an institution to respect,” said Leonardo.
(With PTI inputs)