PARIS, France – Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi warned Neymar and his other highly-paid stars that they must shape-up or ship-out, claiming “celebrity behavior” of the French champions will not be tolerated.
“The players will have to assume their responsibilities even more than before,” Al-Khelaifi told France Football in an interview to be published on Tuesday, June 18.
“It must be completely different, they will have to do more, work more. They are not here to please themselves and if they do not agree, the doors are open. I do not want to have celebrity behavior anymore.”
“I have realized that changes were essential, otherwise we’re going nowhere.”
Although he wasn’t named, there seems little doubt that Brazilian star Neymar was the chief target of Al-Khelaifi’s blast.
The 27-year-old Neymar was questioned by Brazilian police for 5 hours on Thursday over allegations he raped a woman he met through social media in a Paris hotel last month – charges he has denied.
Neymar has been plagued by controversy in France.
Injured and forced to watch from the stands as PSG were knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester United in March, Neymar aimed obscene language at the match officials on Instagram.
“It’s a disgrace. They get 4 guys who don’t understand football to watch a slow motion replay in front of the TV,” he wrote.
Neymar was handed a three-match suspension by UEFA for those insults which rule him out of PSG’s opening fixtures in next season’s European campaign.
Neymar then scored in PSG’s French Cup final defeat by Rennes but hit a supporter as he collects his runners-up medal at the Stade de France.
He is given a further two-game ban while the Brazilian press brand him a “coward” and a “rebellious teenager”.
Brazil boss Tite took the skipper’s armband away from the 96-time international and gave it to club teammate Dani Alves instead.
That move, though, proved academic as Neymar was then ruled out of the Copa America due to an ankle ligament injury picked up in a friendly.
Al-Khelaifi’s outburst comes just days after former PSG sporting director Leonardo returned to the club in the same position replacing Antero Henrique.
The Brazilian had already warned that no player should be above the “institution” of PSG, in an interview with Canal+ a few weeks after the arrival of Neymar in 2017.
“It does not matter if Neymar is Neymar, if Cristiano Ronaldo is Cristiano Ronaldo, the club is an institution to respect,” said Leonardo.
PSG won the French Ligue 1 title for a sixth time in 7 seasons.
However, in a disappointing European run, Thomas Tuchel’s men failed to reach the later stages of the Champions League losing to Manchester United in the last 16.
They have now lost in the last 16 in 3 straight seasons. – Rappler.com