'It's still Leo' – Neymar insists Messi has nothing to prove to critics

By Sports Desk August 01, 2022

Neymar insists team-mate Lionel Messi has nothing to prove to his critics in his second season as a Paris Saint-Germain player.

Messi had an underwhelming first campaign with PSG following his move from Barcelona, scoring 11 goals in 34 games – down on the 38 scored with Barca the previous year.

Those 11 goals came from an expected goals (xG) value of 16.8, suggesting Messi underperformed in front of goal based on the quality of his chances.

Messi assisted 14 goals, though, 10 of which came after the turn of the year – only Barca's Ousmane Dembele (11) has managed more across Europe's top five leagues in 2022.

The 35-year-old impressed in his first competitive outing of the 2022-23 campaign on Sunday as he opened the scoring in PSG's 4-0 Trophee des Champions win over Nantes.

However, when asked if that display is a sign of a new Messi at PSG, Neymar leapt to the defence of his colleague.

"I don't think so. I think people talk too much," he told Amazon Prime. "They don't know what's going on every day, what's going on inside.

"Leo, it's Leo. It's still Leo, it doesn't change. No, he continues to make the difference. He adapts.

"It is obvious that we hope that everything goes well for the three of us, for me, for Leo, for Kylian [Mbappe]. If the three of us are well, I'm sure it's good for the team."

 

Neymar scored twice after Messi had opened the scoring in Tel Aviv and Sergio Ramos was also on target as PSG won their first silverware under Christophe Galtier.

The Parisians have now won 11 Trophee des Champion crowns, including nine of the past 10 editions of the competition.

Neymar, who also created a game-high three chances, is pleased to have started the new campaign – his sixth with PSG – in style.

"I'm satisfied. We had a very good match with the team," he said. "It's very important to start winning and it's a match that ends in a trophy. Whatever happens, you have to win."

Related items

  • Morata joins Milan on four-year deal Morata joins Milan on four-year deal

    Milan have completed the signing of Spain captain Alvaro Morata from Atletico Madrid.

    The striker, who will wear the number seven shirt with the Rossoneri, has put pen to paper on a four-year deal at San Siro, with the option of an additional year.

    Morata is fresh from leading Spain to their record-breaking fourth European Championship triumph at Euro 2024, following a 2-1 victory over England in the final.

    The 31-year-old becomes Paulo Fonseca's first major signing since replacing Stefano Pioli in the Milan dugout.

    This will be Morata's second spell in Italy, having scored 59 goals in 185 appearances across two separate stints with Juventus, where he won successive Serie A titles in 2015 and 2016.

    He could make his debut when Milan host Torino in their opening match of the 2024-25 season on August 17.

  • Ten Hag concedes Man Utd have 'less depth' than Premier League rivals Ten Hag concedes Man Utd have 'less depth' than Premier League rivals

    Erik ten Hag feels Manchester United have less strength in depth compared "with other top clubs in the Premier League".

    The Dutchman's injury-hit side finished eighth in the Premier League last season; their lowest final position in the competition.

    However, the Red Devils did manage to secure European football for the 2024-25 campaign after beating rivals Manchester City 2-1 in the FA Cup final.

    Ten Hag was heavily linked with a departure from Old Trafford, but recently extended his stay with the club until 2026, and he acknowledges United are still a work in progress.

    "Last season, we constantly had injuries to players in the same positions, all at the back. At one point, we had almost no defenders available," he told Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.

    "When we started here, United hadn't won a trophy for six years, and it really wasn't because they didn't have good managers here.

    "It does say something about the composition and quality of the player group. I knew that when I started, of course, but they were players with long-term contracts.

    "We were and still are in that process [of building]. If you compare our squad with other top clubs in the Premier League, we certainly have a bit less in terms of depth. That is exactly why we found it so difficult to deal with those injuries."

    Ten Hag also reflected on that FA Cup final against City, a game which was widely expected to spell the end for the Dutchman had United lost.

    But the 54-year-old is not concerned by his job security.

    "Let's face it: you lose too many matches, it just takes strength to keep the team focused and motivated every time," he added. "The players are disappointed, the people around you are disappointed.

    "There was so much going on at that stage, but I still firmly believed that we could win that final. The most important thing of all was to convey that belief to my team. I had to be careful that the entire environment did not become negative in advance.

    "If United's management find someone tomorrow who they think is better, then I'll go. It's that simple. Those are the mechanisms in football that you have to respect. At a club like this, it is crystal clear: if you don't win, you have a problem."

  • England should target Guardiola or Klopp to succeed Southgate, says Eriksson England should target Guardiola or Klopp to succeed Southgate, says Eriksson

    England should attempt to convince either Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp to succeed Gareth Southgate, says former Three Lions boss Sven-Goran Eriksson.

    Southgate announced his resignation this week in the wake of England's 2-1 defeat to Spain in the Euro 2024 final, their second final loss in as many European Championship campaigns under him.

    The likes of Graham Potter, Eddie Howe and Lee Carsley have been touted as potential successors if the Football Association (FA) wishes to appoint another English boss.

    However, reports have also suggested the FA are keen to speak with Guardiola about the vacancy, with many believing he may leave Manchester City next year.

    Former Liverpool boss Klopp, meanwhile, is thought likely to take a sabbatical after eight years at Anfield, but Eriksson believes the FA should still ask him the question.

    "If he is English or foreign, I don't think it should mean much," he told The Telegraph. "You just have to find a top manager, or a young one with a good future. 

    "If you want to aim high, the obvious two contenders are Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola. They know English football, the players and culture. 

    "If there was even the slightest suggestion they were interested in the job, England should go for it. We are talking about two of the best managers in the world. 

    "Klopp is taking a break and I'm not sure whether stepping down from Manchester City is in Pep's mind. 

    "But you have to aim high, and appointing either of those two would be a huge statement for England and their aims for the future."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.