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'He must regain his love for football' - Neymar’s former 'Guardian Angel' claims his father is ruining his image

2:52 PM IST 03/07/19
Neymar Senior Neymar 2016
The Brazil international's dad handles all his son's affairs but has faced criticism amid rumours the forward could be set to re-join Barcelona

Neymar has been warned that his reputation will continue to tumble if he remains steadfast in his decision to listen to the advice of his father, Neymar Snr.

The Paris Saint-Germain star uses Neymar Snr as his agent, with the 54-year-old playing a pivotal role in the deals that saw his son first leave Santos for Barcelona and his subsequent world-record transfer to PSG.

Neymar is again at the centre of transfer rumours linking him with a return to Camp Nou two years on from his move to the French capital, though should he depart he will do with his standing within the game having been diminished.

Bad luck with injuries has meant he has played just one Champions League knockout game for the Ligue 1 champions while he was seen to punch an opposition fan following PSG's defeat to Rennes in the final of the Coupe de France in April.

He also faces a three-match European ban for a social media outburst in the aftermath of his side's defeat to Manchester United in March and has earned a reputation as a player who goes to ground too easily at both club and international level.

Eduardo Musa, who worked closely alongside Neymar during his early years in Brazil, has watched the player's struggles from afar and believes his entourage, led by Neymar Snr, are to blame.

“I think he stopped doing things with his heart, that’s the trouble. Neymar and his staff are now in permanent conflict," Musa - who says he was nicknamed 'Neymar's Guardian Angel' during their time working together - told L'Equipe. "They refuse to accept criticism. He’s now reaping what they have been sowing for a long time.

“Neymar is faithful to those who have been there from the beginning, and especially his father, but it hurts him.

“Neymar Snr can’t behave like he’s a super-pro who manages every aspect of his son’s career. He’s not prepared for that.

"Neymar is a classy guy, an adorable and generous guy, but the image he gives to the media is exactly the opposite of that. And it’s his father who is responsible."

On what advice he would offer Neymar, Musa added: “I’d tell him to forget his image, drop his commercial obligations and give up the idea of becoming number one. He needs to go back to where he came from.

"I don’t know how much he still loves football. When I was with him, he loved it very much. Today, all this controversy will have caused damage to his love of the game. Only his heart can give an answer.

“His love of football is key. When you look at him on social media, Neymar and his staff only talk about business. It’s photos posted in a restaurant, at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower or at parties.

"He no longer speaks about sport. He must quickly regain his love of the game. And he’s the only one who can do that."

There is hope that being back alongside friends Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez at Barcelona could re-focus Neymar on his performances on the pitch.

And while Musa is unsure whether the rumours linking him with a return to Catalunya are true, he feels it would be the right move for the 27-year-old.

“I don’t have inside information but I think so," he said when asked whether he thought Neymar would want to re-join Barcelona.

"But I don’t know if PSG will let him go. It seems like it would be better for him to go back to Barca. It seems he is no longer welcome at PSG. It’s better he goes back to where he was happy.”