Anyone who watched Paris Saint-Germain’s last game in the hopes of seeing Neymar and Lionel Messi playing together for the first time in more than four years was left alone. In the Parisian club’s victory over Reims, on Sunday (29), the Brazilian was selected as a starter and left the field 21 minutes into the second half for the Argentine’s entry.
But it is obvious that this was an exceptional situation motivated by the lack of playing rhythm of the two stars, who returned later from vacation. The PSG of the 2021/2022 season will have its 10 shirt alongside the six times voted best player in the world.
And then, when they have both on the field at the same time, Argentine coach Mauricio Pochettino will have to make a difficult choice: indicate which one will be responsible for taking the penalties suffered by the team.
The coach has yet to speak publicly on the topic, which has been a big problem in the Paris locker room a few seasons ago.
Between 2017 and 2019, Neymar and Edinson Cavani had a lot of friction for the right to be PSG’s official penalty taker. After the Uruguayan left the club, the matter was closed, and the Brazilian became the number one responsible for the penalties.
Messi has spent most of his career taking all the penalties he wanted at Barcelona. From time to time, usually in games that were already decided or when he didn’t have any expressive individual marks to reach, he would give up that position so that Neymar, Luis Suárez or Griezmann would also have the opportunity to shoot a few shots.
If Pochettino’s choice is exclusively technical, the Argentine ace’s arrival at PSG should have no impact on the ordering of the penalty takers.
Over the past four seasons, Neymar has converted no less than 30 of the 33 penalties he has taken, a 90.9% advantage of attempts, much higher than Messi’s 74.3% hit rate in the period.
The new PSG star, by the way, has a lower productivity rate in criminals than the other two players in the French squad, who also tend to venture into collections. Since 2017/2018, Mauro Icardi has converted 87.5% of the penalties he took, and Kylian Mbappé has scored 81.3%.
In other words: if statistics were the number one decision criterion, not only should Neymar remain the official scorer for the Paris team, but Messi would only be the team’s fourth option (at least this second part, of course, won’t happen).
Overtaken by Lille in the last season of the French Championship, PSG started the race for the Ligue 1 title with all. of advantage to Angers, deputy leader.
In the Champions League, a tournament in which he is still seeking his first title, he fell into one of the most complicated brackets this year. In Group A, Neymar and Messi will be joined by Manchester City, current European runner-up, Brugge and RB Leipzig.
Due to the FIFA Date and the commitments of the teams in the Qualifiers for the World Cup-2022, the Parisians only return to the field on September 12, when they receive Clermont. Three days later, they make their Champions League debut against Brugge, Belgium.
Use in penalties (since 2017/2018)
Neymar – 90.9% hit (30 goals in 33 free kicks)
Mauro Icardi – 87.5% hit (14 goals in 16 kicks)
Kylian Mbappé – 81.3% hit (13 goals in 16 free kicks)
Lionel Messi – 74.3% hit (26 goals in 35 free kicks)