A man who works closely with the mercurial forward at Parc des Princes has defended the way he reacts to being kicked during matches
Paris Saint-Germain assistant Zsolt Low has offered an explanation for Neymar’s theatrics on the pitch, claiming the Brazilian star suffers “extreme pain” when fouled and “has extremely sensitive feet”.
Neymar is widely regarded as one of the best players of his generation, having scored 247 career goals across successful spells at Santos, Barcelona and PSG.
The Brazil international has also got his hands on 22 trophies, including two La Liga titles, three Ligue 1 crowns and the Champions League, while also scoring 64 goals in 103 appearances for his country on the international stage.
The 28-year-old had arguably his best season yet on an individual level in 2019-20, as he inspired PSG to a domestic treble and their first-ever European Cup final, but fitness issues have prevented him from kicking on at the start of the new season.
Neymar is expected to return to Thomas Tuchel’s line-up for a Champions League meeting with RB Leipzig on Tuesday , having spent the last few weeks on the sidelines with a groin problem.
Niggling injuries have significantly disrupted the forward’s first three years at Parc des Princes, but he is regularly afforded little sympathy due to the way he reacts to being tackled.
The former Barcelona talisman has often been accused of diving to win free kicks or get other players sent off, with it suggested in some quarters that his legacy has already been tarnished by his penchant for unnecessary playacting.
However, Low insists Neymar’s apparent over-the-top response to challenges stems from a physical condition which has affected him ever since he began playing football, as the PSG coach told Bild : “Neymar has incredibly sensitive feet.
“If he is kicked, it gives him extreme pain.”
Low added on Neymar being a target for opposition defenders because of his perceived egotistical playing style and lack of humility: “Neymar is a warm guy, very open.
“Of course it sometimes seems arrogant what he does on the pitch. But if he is fouled, then he tries to dribble past his opponent at the next opportunity.
“That is his way of responding to the harshness.”
Asked if he expects Neymar to play a part against Leipzig in PSG’s latest Group H outing: “He’s not yet at 100 per cent. But we need him with his experience and his quality.”