Neymar is undoubtedly football’s biggest paradox.
When you see him play, you cannot take your eyes off him. With skills that are only rivalled by the great Ronaldinho, and stats that take him to levels near Messi and Ronaldo, his ability and talent are truly undeniable.
Yet, for one reason or another, there will always be people who will look beyond all of his accomplishments and go ahead to say that they dislike Neymar. The reason, more often than not, is his ability to frustrate everyone.
He can frustrate defenders by leaving them in the dust, and he can frustrate viewers by constantly diving and making a scene out of a relatively harmless or often even legal challenge.
He can jump through the meanest of tackles to get to the goal, but also dives over the softest ones to stop the game.
What he does is right or wrong, is a debate that consumes every viewer.
On one hand, he gets a lot of free kicks for his team whilst also slowing the game down, but on the other hand, it’s sad to see fair tackles getting penalised or unfair tackles exaggerated for wasting time.
The latest to join this debate is none other than 3-time Ballon d’Or winner Marco Van Basten.
While doing punditry for Ziggo Sports, Van Basten said, “Neymar is a true whiner. He is constantly provoking. One second he fouls someone and the other second he plays the victim again.”
“You are not allowed to touch him. I would applaud it if someone would finally truly deal with him. A nasty guy, on the pitch.”
The reason behind Van Basten’s hateful comments
The former Dutch striker was livid with what happened in the heated PSG and Reims game played on Saturday.
The game saw Sergio Ramos being sent off before halftime, while 8 other players were given yellow cards.
Neymar entered the pitch at around the 58th minute, but by the time the game ended, he was the most fouled player in the game.
He was fouled 5 times, but only one of them ended with a yellow card.
Around the 89th-minute mark, the Brazilian was challenged by Doumbia, which led to a melee between the two teams, resulting in a yellow card for PSG’s Hakimi and Reims’ Gravillon. Doumbia was not carded.
After the free-kick went wide, Neymar attempted a very heavy shoulder push against another Reims player, which got him the yellow card.
It was this moment that Van Basten was referring to in his rant.
Neymar got tackled and immediately sought revenge, albeit towards a different Reims player.
However, by saying “finally truly deal with him”, Van Basten might be going too far.
Without directly saying something, Van Basten is insinuating that he would applaud anyone who would tackle Neymar heavily enough to “truly” deal with him, which can be interpreted in a plethora of ways.
Does he mean to be injured? Does he mean shaken up? We hope not.
This isn’t the first time that Van Basten has called out Neymar.
Back in 2018, during the World Cup, the then Fifa Technical Director Van Basten spoke about Neymar’s theatrics and said that he needs to “cut it out”, as it is not helping his team by doing any of this “acting”.
Neymar fans have another theory as to why Van Basten is complaining about him so much – racism.
Going back to 2019, Van Basten was suspended from Fox Sports, his employer, and other organisations like Fifa, for saying a Nazi saying “Sieg Heil”, which translates to “for victory”, live on TV.
This came about at the same time as the Dutch league was standing up against racism, and the timing couldn’t have been more implicating. He apologized for his actions and called them stupid, but he was suspended nonetheless.
Racism or not, Van Basten’s comments about dealing with Neymar are a little more morbid than would usually be expected of pundits.