Neymar scored a goal so pointlessly brilliant it deserves its own movie


If you were worried about Paris Saint-Germain forgetting how to score during their long lay-off, Neymar put that right against Le Havre.

PSG put nine past their sorry opponents in a friendly designed to help them prepare for their Coupe de France and Champions League return, but it was the first of the Brazilian’s brace which really stood out.

When you’re up against lesser opponents, you can treat them with kid gloves or really ramp up the disrespect, and sometimes the latter is what you need.

After a perfect through-ball from Angel Di Maria, who had by this point seemingly decided to pass by only using the outside of his left foot, Neymar still has a little bit to do. Not that you’d know from how simple he makes everything look.

Ertugrul Ersoy and Woyo Koulibaly, the two defenders tasked with stopping the Brazilian, are certainly part of the move.

They’re present, and even involved, but the level to which that is down to their own control of the situation is debatable. The idea that they can have any influence on the situation beyond stopping and staring is, at best, fanciful.

Their actions resemble defensive acts, and would slot neatly into place in any ‘how-to’ book, but serve little purpose in this environment beyond signposting Neymar’s route from A to B. And you wouldn’t put it past Neymar to have willed them into place all by himself.

There’s never been a surer sign that games like these are little more than Neymar documentaries in which every supporting character is an extra who can count himself fortunate to even have a named role.

Even Mathieu Gorgelin, the Le Havre goalkeeper, feels like a prop, put in place by a director to make the main event easier on the eye.

His movement is crisp enough that it could be taken from – or placed into – any other scenario with an opponent running through on goal.

It has barely any actual synchronicity with Neymar’s movements, but it doesn’t need to: the PSG man, simply by looking at Gorgelin, gives him a cue to perform an artist’s rendering of a hopeless dive with just enough energy to give the illusion of coming close to its target.

The defenders and goalkeeper aren’t quite playing a different game to Neymar; they’re playing the same game but at half-speed, making efforts to thwart a future Neymar who has already been cast aside by its owner.

Neymar is splitting himself into 100 different realities yet only needs one of them to have any variety from the rest in order to fool those with illusions of influence.

It’s as if he’s written a version of Groundhog Day where his own script stays constant throughout, while those who might benefit from knowing the ending are blindfolded long before they have any chance to witness anything which might benefit them the next time they’re jolted awake.

It is, naturally, impossible to tell whether this game means anything at all within the context of PSG’s Champions League return.

They’ll resume their campaign against Atalanta, a team whose recent form implies the act of figuring out where to find the next goal isn’t the thing to be most worried about.

Still, the sight of Neymar owning souls is something we would be naive to overlook.

It might have been a friendly, and it might have been against a team just as rusty as PSG, but the point of Neymar’s goal is that it doesn’t matter who was on the receiving end.

This is a player who was twice denied World Cup glory with Brazil, and who is yet to win the Champions League title he’s desired so much in a Paris Saint-Germain shirt.

The power of a superstar writing his own script carries a great deal of weight, and the sight of opponents falling over themselves to give him the Hollywood ending he feels he deserves is something we should never ignore.

By Tom Victor

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