Lionel Messi and Neymar have been blasted by PSG’s ultras following the club’s disappointing 2022-23 campaign.
Messi looks set to depart the Parc des Princes at the end of the season, while fans congregated outside Neymar’s house and chanted “f*ck off” at the Brazilian.
But the pair aren’t the first to feel the wrath from their own club’s fanbase. Here are eight other examples of players that were hated – at least for a time – by their own club’s fans.
Manchester United fans staunchly defended their famous No.7 as the rest of the country rounded him following his red card against Argentina in England’s World Cup ’98 elimination.
But later in his career Beckham did face ire from his club’s supporters, having left LA Galaxy to join AC Milan back on loan in 2009. This seemingly was read by a snub to many, given his arrival from Real Madrid was supposed to signal a grand new era for soccer in North America.
Beckham missed 17 Galaxy matches while strutting his stuff at the San Siro, leading to a frosty reception on his return – he was booed by the MLS club’s fans, with one banner reading ‘Go Home Fraud’.
The former England international eventually won his detractors back round, staying in Los Angeles until 2012 and lifting the MLS Cup in his last two years there, while in 2011 he was named the ‘MLS Comeback Player of the Year’.
Itandje spent three years on Liverpool’s books between 2007 and 2010. He was very much a backup and never made a Premier League appearance, and his stint at Anfield would’ve been entirely forgettable were it not for his conduct during a Hillsborough memorial service.
The Cameroonian goalkeeper was pictured laughing and nudging a team-mate like a bored teenage during the service. He was suspended for 14 days and fine two weeks’ wages and made matters worse by claiming the [angry fans were overreacting.
“It is a 30-second clip about which people are going overboard,” he told French newspaper Aujourd’hui Sport. “You need to see an hour of the video if you want to judge my behaviour but you know the papers [in England]. They make a big deal of things.”
Unsurprisingly he left Liverpool a short while later, first on loan to Macedonian side Kavala and subsequently released from his contract.
You suspect that over time the Welshman’s legacy in Madrid will be reexamined and it will be his contributions on the pitch that live long in the memory.
After all, this is a player that won no fewer than five Champions Leagues with the club, featuring prominently in four of them – and scored two of the club’s all-time greatest goals; against Barcelona in the 2014 Copa del Rey final and against Liverpool in the 2018 Champions League final.
But Bale endured a terse relationship with the Madrid faithful during his latter years with the club, not least after posing with a flag that read “Wales. Golf. Madrid” – referencing the perception that he cared more about representing his country and playing golf than he did about his club.
He was noisily whistled on his return to the Bernabeu.
Lescott was a boyhood Villa fan, but his solitary season at the club left a lot to be desired.
Pro tip: if you want the fans to like you, don’t ‘accidentally’ tweet a picture of a £120,000 grand Mercedes amid a dismal battle against relegation.
Pro tip 2: Don’t describe said relegation as “a weight off the shoulders” when it was eventually confirmed.
🗣 Joleon Lescott on his car tweet 🤦 #AVFC
— VillaTilliDie (@VillaTil1Die) March 19, 2020
Zozulya was outspoken on social media in his support for Ukraine’s armed forces amid the conflict with Russia.
The striker, who was capped 33 times by his country, arrived on loan at famously left-leaning Rayo Vallecano in January 2017 – but he was forced out of Vallecas before he’d made a single appearance by supporters that perceived his support to be for the far-right elements within the Ukrainian military.
His contract was cancelled and he returned to parent club Betis.
In December 2019, Zozulya returned to Vallecas with Albacelete for a Segunda Division clash, but the match had to be postponed at half-time following chants from the home fans of “Zozulya you are a Nazi”.
The Argentinian had an exceptional record at Inter. He scored 124 goals in 219 appearances and at one time was very much a fan favourite.
Icardi’s performances couldn’t be questioned, but his off-pitch exploits eventually wore thin and the relationship with Inter’s supporters soured to the point of no return.
In October 2016, Icardi released an autobiography that was critical of Inter’s ultras and even went as far as to make threats of flying in mobsters from Argentina to kill them. Probably not the wisest move, that.
Eboue wasn’t out-and-out hated by Arsenal fans, and over time his comedically erratic performances have earned him a kind of cult hero status.
But frustration boiled over in a match against Wigan in December 2008. The full-back’s every touch was booed by fans at the Emirates and he gave an emotional reaction before being subbed back off by Arsene Wenger.
“I think it worked for him because people think ‘Come on, we have gone too far,'” Wenger recalled.
“I also believe the fans realise that they can go too far and in that case part of the public said: ‘No that is not right no matter what happens. We have to stand behind the players.’
“During the game, it is an emotional response. After, when people take a distance, they think ‘Oh no, we have gone too far’ and they correct it. But I understand when you want so much to win during the game you can go a little bit too far.”
Eboue remained at the club for another couple of years and eventually rehabilitated his reputation – albeit not quite the same extent Granit Xhaka later did – but for a time he was held up as a scapegoat and symbol of the Gunners’ late noughties woes.
“I was very surprised by that reaction of the fans,” Eboue told The Telegraph eight years later. “The whole team was playing bad that day but we still won 1-0. All of us played badly. I don’t know why it was only me.
“When you are a footballer and your own fans boo you, it’s very bad, your confidence goes. After that happened I said to Arsene Wenger [the Arsenal manager], ‘I don’t want to come in any more for training because I feel bad’.
“I got back home and I was crying. But the same week some of the fans came to the club to say sorry to me about that. That was very nice. It meant a lot. ‘Eboue, don’t listen,’ they said. ‘You know we love you.’”
The England international arrived at St. James’ Park as Newcastle United’s club-record signing in August 2005.
But injuries had taken their toll, he was no longer the world-beater he was as a youngster at Liverpool, and his frequent spells on the sidelines proved frustrating for the Geordie faithful. He made just 79 appearances across his four years on Tyneside and scored 30 goals.
He wasn’t especially popular at the time, but his popularity has dipped even following the manner of his post-relegation exit and comments about the club since retirement. A spat with Alan Shearer didn’t help.
“I tried my heart out every game and I really am perplexed by the view of them towards me when I finished,” Owen responded in an interview with The Athletic.
“And now it has got worse. it’s almost irretrievable now and I don’t really know what I ever did wrong, honestly.”