Neymar Finally Grows Up – The New York Times


Thomas Meunier, the Belgian defender whose contract expired this summer, remembered his four years at the club as “nothing but birthday parties” in rented palaces. At one, the players were divided into two groups: those who were married given a space on one floor, and those who were single directed to a different area on a different level.

Before he arrived in Paris from Manchester United last summer, Ander Herrera had heard that P.S.G. was the sort of squad where the Brazilian players formed one group, the Spanish-speakers another, and where unity was a distant prospect. His experience, though, has been quite different.

A few days after the defeat at Borussia Dortmund, for example — with P.S.G. on the verge of yet another elimination in the Champions League’s last 16 — the squad and the staff got together at Trattoria Giusé, an upscale Italian restaurant owned by Marco Verratti. Team dinners have been frequent events this season, with several of them organized and hosted by Neymar.

Tuchel also has instituted a policy of gathering the team in a hotel before matches, something that has not always been the case at P.S.G. Those inside the club’s five-star hotel in Lisbon report a collegial atmosphere, rather than one in which the players break off into distinct groups.

A team that had been stratified by age or nationality or interest has become, as Tuchel put it, more of a “collective.”

“This is the key for Neymar to rise to the level, because this is a collective sport,” Tuchel said. “He cannot win on his own.”

It has been nine years since Qatar Sports Investments bought into P.S.G., with the aim of turning it into the best team in the world. Neymar was the manifestation of how it believed it could bring that about: a player of vast talent brought in at exorbitant expense, coddled and indulged in the hope that he alone would be the difference, that this was a game ultimately decided by individuals.


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