Neymar insists he feels “much better” at Paris Saint-Germain than before and has hit back at critics who accused him of unprofessionalism.
The Brazilian star moved to PSG from Barcelona in 2017 for € 222million, breaking the previous world transfer record.
He struggled to settle in the French capital and was persistently linked with a return to Spain to Barca or rivals Real Madrid.
Injury issues at key moments and questions about his level of commitment to the club have added to an air of negativity around Neymar, but that has been largely dispelled over the past 18 months.
The 29-year-old was a star player as PSG first reached the Champions League final last August, where they lost to Bayern Munich, and he was equally influential in knocking out those same opponents. in the quarter-finals of this season.
Neymar is now more widely expected to sign an extension to his contract with PSG, which expires next year, as he seeks to build a legacy at Parc des Princes.
Although he would not discuss a possible new deal, Neymar said on Tuesday that a lot has changed for the better since his arrival four years ago.
67 – Neymar has been involved in 67 goals in 67 Champions League matches (41 goals, 26 assists). Underestimated?
Often overlooked in conversations about the best players of this generation, does Neymar’s name deserve to be tossed in the hat?
– OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 14, 2021
“I also talked about it after the last game. I don’t think I need to say more, ”he said when asked about his renewal.
“I still have time on my contract here at PSG. We want to do what’s best for everyone. I have already said that I am happy here and that I feel a lot better than the previous seasons.
“Since I arrived here, the club has improved. The club is more respected. When people talk about PSG now, they know they are in the top four, five or six teams in all leagues.
“PSG are now getting the respect they deserve. This is our second year in a row in the Champions League semi-finals and last year we were finalists. This year, we will do everything to get our hands on the trophy.
“When I joined PSG I said that our priority was always the Champions League and winning it and being among the best. We managed to reach the final last year for the first time in club history. Now we are in the semi-finals.
“It means we’ve improved and that’s because of the people, the coaching staff and I think we have what it takes to be champions. We are on the right path. The atmosphere is fantastic here.
“There are certainly aspects on which I improved during my stay at PSG. I also had some rough times in terms of setting up and things that people know. I think I got better and things started to get better.
“I have always worked very hard. I have always trained hard and have been professional. I never did anything unprofessional.
“Although a lot of people say the opposite, I always worked hard and stayed focused and showed it on the pitch. When I’m there I try to show what I’m capable of and help my team.
1 – The elimination of Bayern Munich by PSG this evening is the first time in the history of the Champions League of the losing finalists of the previous season eliminating the holders in the round of 16. Revenge. pic.twitter.com/Q5rc6oQLtu
– OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 13, 2021
PSG will face Manchester City in the semi-final first leg on Wednesday, a side they haven’t beaten in their three previous encounters and have won nine and drawn in one of their 10 League matches. champions this season.
“It will be a tough game for sure,” Neymar said. “It’s the semi-final of the Champions League and there are no easy tams at this stage. Man City are a top team with real quality, just like Bayern were in the previous round. We are ready for this game and we will do everything to try to pass. “
Neymar was a Champions League winner with Barca in 2015, scoring in the final against Juventus, and it has been suggested that leading PSG to continental glory could see him seriously claiming the Ballon d’Or this year.
However, Neymar replied, “It’s not something I think about. I am focusing on the Champions League because it will make a big difference in my life and my career. If I look back and see that I have three or four Champions Leagues, that would be the most important thing.