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Shane Hannon
Shane Hannon

14:08 24 Aug 2020


Graham Hunter says although Neymar is yet to fulfil his potential as a footballer, some credit must be given for what he has achieved in the game.

The PSG and Brazil striker failed to light up last night's Champions League final in Lisbon, as the French side fell to a 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich.

Neymar joined Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona in the summer of 2017 for €222 million - and speaking on OTB AM earlier Kenny Cunningham was critical of his inability to step up to the plate in some of the biggest games he plays in.

"When the chips were down in the second half of that game last night, PSG were looking for a bit of inspiration and there was none coming from Neymar.

"He went into his shell, his body language was terrible, his chin was down and he didn’t provide that kind of leadership when it really mattered most."

Spanish football writer Hunter reacted to those comments, saying the 28-year-old was fairly well targeted by the Bavarian opposition last night.

"He didn't play a five-star, 'I-will-lift-my-team' role. Fine, that's for sure. I thought Bayern Munich were very smart in how they shared around the kicking of him and the knocking him over.

"I think he got moderate protection from the Italian referee but there's no doubt Bayern Munich, without being thuggish, made pretty sure he got a nudge or a knee in the back, just gentle fouls to knock him over.

"It was [a case of] 'We won't allow you to be a special player without you overcoming our bullying.' I think that's a perfectly standard technique in football.

"He wasn't the star of the show. Bayern Munich played a big part in how little Neymar was able to damage the final.

"There come times when a guy of that age in his late-twenties needs to be turbo-chargers in really big matches, a world apart from the several months that French football spent without any action, a world apart from many of the games he plays in Ligue 1", said Hunter.

Graham also made the point that although Neymar hasn't yet fulfilled the level of hype that followed him around for much of his career, he still hasn't "wasted" his talent.

"I don't believe that Neymar has dedicated every waking hour to being dedicated to a Champions League final against Bayern Munich.

"He's a guy who has always had a Peter Pan complex, always thought  'I'm so alive, and so gymnastic, and so quick, and so inventive, that you can't catch me!' Last night, several of the Bayern players did.

"I hadn't heard this wave of 'Neymar's now a leader, and a grown-up' and I don't think he is. It's disappointed me an awful lot that, although he hasn't wasted his talent, he hasn't maxed it out.

"Neymar has been in a place where his tendency to think that he knows best, his tendency to think that he's so talented, so quick, that somewhere like 85 or 90 per cent effort and behaviour and concentration will be enough for him - and it hasn't.

"There is an accusation of underachieving. He is an extraordinary footballer, he has shown us phenomenal things, he deserves to be held up and pointed to as a rarity in football, a kind of talent we see very little.

"He gets bullied, a lot. I've got some sympathy for referees - unless you wrap him in cotton wool, because he's very, very brave in when he takes the ball and he's very, very slight.

"So unless the referee walks around with his arm around a player all game, he's gonna get booted around like he did last night."

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Bayern Munich Champions League Graham Hunter Kenny Cunningham Neymar PSG

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