A reocurrence of an injury, two separate suspensions for insulting a referee and hitting a fan, losing Brazil’s captaincy and a disputed accusation of rape – Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, had a difficult season for club and country, on and off the field.
Back for Brazil
After more than three months sidelined with a foot problem, Neymar’s 69th minute goal guides Brazil to a 2-0 World Cup warm-up friendly victory over Croatia on June 3.
Despite scoring once and claiming an assist as the Selecao qualified for the last-16 his World Cup group stage is marred by what many commentators call his “pathetic” diving.
Bows out to boos
Brazil are knocked out of the World Cup in the quarter-finals to Belgium on July 6. Neymar is the victim of boos from crowds watching on a big screen in Rio every time he rolls on the ground, becoming an internet joke for his theatrical efforts.
“I wouldn’t go as far as to say I didn’t want to play again but, I didn’t want to see a ball, or to see any more football played,” the 27-year-old told AFP on July 22 after the disappointment in Russia.
He scores a hat-trick for Paris Saint-Germain in a 6-1 thumping of Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League group stage on October 3, a performance described as “sensational” by coach Thomas Tuchel.
Ballon d’Or blip
He fails to make the Ballon d’Or top 10 for the first time since 2013, finishing in 12th place as midfielder Luka Modric takes the award for leading Croatia to the World Cup final.
Same foot, same injury
PSG are leading Strasbourg 1-0 on January 23 in the second round of the French Cup when Neymar limps off with a similar foot injury to the one he suffered 13 months earlier.
His return is set for the Champions League quarter-finals but the Parisians have to face a resurgent Manchester United in the last 16 before then.
Despite still recovering from the metatarsal problem he’s filmed and photographed dancing at both Salvador and Rio carnivals in early March.
Forced to watch in the the stands as PSG are knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester United on March 6, Neymar aims obscene language at the match officials on Instagram.
He adds: “It’s a disgrace. They get four guys who don’t understand football to watch a slow motion replay in front of the TV.”
El Mundo reports Spanish tax authorities are investigating the bonus he earned when he extended his Barcelona contract in 2017.
Officials are looking into whether the Brazilian paid tax related to his extra payments and his words record 222-million-euro transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, the daily said.
Six weeks after his referee rant on social media Neymar is handed a three-match suspension by Uefa for his insults, ruling him out of PSG’s opening fixtures in next season’s European campaign.
Two days later, PSG are beaten on penalties in the French Cup final by Rennes on April 28. He scores his side’s second goal but lashes out a supporter as he collects his runners-up medal at the Stade de France.
‘The rebellious teenager’
The Brazilian press pounce on his Cup final misdemeanour branding him a “coward” and a “rebellious teenager”.
Tuchel adds salt to the wound by saying “I don’t like it. You can’t do that, you just can’t do that.” Neymar is given another ban for three games with a further two games suspended for lashing out at the spectator.
Shuns last PSG match
He heads back to Brazil to prepare for the Copa America after he claims to have been given permission to miss the league French champions’ final game of the season on May 24. Tuchel denies he gave permission.
Four days later Brazil boss Tite takes the skipper’s armband away from the 96-time international and gives it to club team-mate Dani Alves less than three weeks away from the start of the Copa America in Brazil.
According to a complaint filed with Sao Paolo police, Neymar is accused of “using violence to have sex with the victim without her consent.”
A day later Neymar denies raping the woman who accused him of sexually assaulting her at a Paris hotel, with his father claiming he is the victim of blackmail.
“I am accused of rape, it’s a big word, it’s very strong, but that is what has happened,” Neymar said in an Instagram video.
Neymar then shows what he says is a series of WhatsApp messages with the woman, including topless photographs of her in bed.
Accuser’s lawyers no longer representing her
The law firm hired by the accuser said Monday it was no longer representing the woman, claiming she had changed her story.
The Sao Paulo-based firm, Fernandes e Abreu, said that in the official complaint the woman gave to the Brazilian police, she “described what had happened as ‘rape’, which is a completely different allegation.”
With AFP inputs