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Neymar has slipped out of world’s top three & has point to prove at PSG, says Paulo Cesar

14:29 GMT+3 16/09/2019
Neymar PSG Strasbourg Ligue 1 14092019
The former Paris Saint-Germain defender and fellow Brazilian of a current star in France admits there are many bridges to rebuild at Parc des Princes

Neymar has slipped out of the world’s top three since joining Paris Saint-Germain, claims Paulo Cesar, with the Brazilian told he has some serious rebuilding work to carry out.

Not only does the South American need to repair bridges with a disgruntled fan base, after a summer of speculation linking him with a return to Barcelona, he also has to prove his quality on the field.

A switch to France in 2017, which removed Neymar from the shadow of Lionel Messi at Camp Nou, was expected to help force the 27-year-old further into Ballon d’Or contention.

Rather than stake a more serious claim for that prize, a talented frontman has slipped off the pace.

He is now being challenged to close the gap on Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Co once more, with former PSG defender and fellow countryman Cesar telling Le Parisien: “I hope that Neymar will give the answer that everyone expects on the pitch. He must prove that he has become strong again. 

“Arriving at PSG, he was in the top three players in the world. For two years, he has not been a part of it. We know his abilities, so it's normal to expect much better from him.

“I believe in Neymar's return to his best. 

“He still needs games, so we'll wait and see. It's been two years since he played important games. Neymar was seriously injured twice. 

“What he does in private does not bother me. But he must still be careful. If he takes good care of his body, then that is the best way to avoid injuries.”

Neymar made a positive start down the path to redemption on Saturday when he made a match-winning return to action for reigning Ligue 1 champions PSG.

“For me, he performed a smart match,” Cesar said after witnessing a dramatic stoppage-time bicycle kick against Strasbourg.

“In the first half, he almost did not keep the ball, just three touches maximum, because he knew he would be whistled. He was good in passing and moving. Then he started to let go. His goal is pure Neymar!”

Neymar incurred the wrath of PSG ultras with his push for a transfer over the summer and has admitted that he now expects every outing to feel like an away game.

Cesar says the Brazil international can have few complaints about that, but believes he can return to favour through his performances.

He added on the taunts and banners in the stands at Parc des Princes: “Given what happened in the media all summer, it seems perfectly normal. 

“We must understand the supporters who defend their club, they have the right to demonstrate. But their love of PSG must be stronger than that. 

“I hope it will not last too long because this strange atmosphere, it does not penalise only Neymar but also the club, the team.”