CITY SPECIAL THE DANGER OF FLIRTING WITH A WORLD GIANT
NEYMAR has fluttered his eyelashes at City – or rather at Pep Guardiola.
But will City see that as an invitation to courtship, or will Guardiola give the brilliant Brazilian the cold shoulder?
The Blues have never truly signed a giant of the world game, unless you include Robinho, when the ink was still wet on the contracts which effected Sheikh Mansour’s takeover of the club, in 2008. They have consistently picked up players from the next level down, players who have been snubbed or released by the monolithic European clubs – David Silva, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne.
In terms of promoting the club globally, landing a player of Neymar’s fame and marketability would be huge, and could even make financial sense.
The suits on the commercial side at City would love to get their hands on him. But would Pep Guar- diola be equally keen? There have to be doubts.
And those doubts would have been doubled by the words of Unai Emery on departing PSG last week, to take up the reins at Arsenal.
“I know when I’m the main person responsible, and when I’m not,” said Emery.
“I am of the opinion that PSG’s leader is Neymar. Or that he is currently becoming it. Neymar came to PSG to be the leader, to go through this process to someday become the best in the world.
“At Manchester City, Pep is in charge. At PSG, Neymar has to be.”
That direct reference to Guardiola is intriguing, especially as Emery followed it up with this statement on how difficult it is to be a coach with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Neymar in your squad: “They are the best in the world so that is a lot to take in. You have to adapt yourself to them.
“Look at Guardiola at City. He is lucky because ●● he doesn’t have a major figure like that to be faced with.
“There are big players who become one when it really matters. And when it comes to taking radical decisions, Pep took them.
“For example, by getting rid of Deco, Ronaldinho, or Ibrahimovic when the latter had issues with Messi.
“By doing this, he avoided serious problems.”
Of course, Guardiola had to deal with Messi at Barcelona, but he became Barcelona coach when Messi was still a young and impressionable player.
At City, he has built a tight-knit and democratic squad in which even world-class performers like Kevin De Bruyne and Aguero have bought into the team ethos – nobody in that squad sees themselves as outstanding, other than in a team context.
Neymar to City remains a pipedream for now but even if the possibility arose, it would take some serious consideration from Guardiola.
Would he be prepared to risk the harmony and equity which exists among his players and staff at the moment?
Or would he be confident that his strong position at City, and his huge reputation, would be enough to bring Neymar into line?
All things being equal, you cannot see City beating a path to PSG’s door – unless Kylian Mbappe, cheaper and less trouble, is a viable option.
Neymar in action for PSG