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PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi: No one forced Neymar to join us

Al-Khelaifi opens door to star's exit, says he won't tolerate 'celebrity behaviour'

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi fired off a salvo at star player Neymar, saying: "Nobody forced him to sign here".

Regular reports of the 27-year-old's unhappiness in Paris began to make the rounds, just months after he signed for the French champions from Barcelona for a world-record 222 million-euro fee (S$341m) in August 2017.

While not addressing the transfer speculation surrounding Neymar directly, Al-Khelaifi opened the door to the Brazilian's exit, telling France Football magazine: "I want players willing to give everything to defend the honour of the jersey and to join the club project.

"Those who do not want that, or do not understand, we will meet and we will talk to each other...

"Nobody forced him to sign here. Nobody pushed him.

"He came knowingly to join a project."

In another thinly veiled swipe at Neymar, the Qatari said: "The players will have to assume their responsibilities even more than before.

"It must be completely different, they will have to do more, work more. They are not here to please themselves. And if they do not agree, the doors are open.

"I do not want to have celebrity behaviour any more."

Considering Al-Khelaifi said PSG's other star man Kylian Mbappe was "200 per cent" certain to stay in Paris (see below), it seems that his comments were largely directed at Neymar.

Neymar's time in France has been plagued by controversy.

The 27-year-old was questioned by Brazilian police for five hours last Thursday over allegations he raped a woman he met through social media in a Paris hotel last month - charges he has denied.

Injured and forced to watch from the stands as PSG were knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester United in March, Neymar aimed obscene language at the match officials on Instagram.

"It's a disgrace. They get four guys who don't understand football to watch a slow-motion replay in front of the TV," he wrote.

The Brazilian was handed a three-match suspension by Uefa for those insults, which rule him out of PSG's opening fixtures in next season's Champions League.

Neymar then scored in PSG's French Cup final defeat by Rennes, but hit a supporter as he collected his runners-up medal at the Stade de France.


He was given a further two-game ban, while the Brazilian press branded him a "coward" and a "rebellious teenager".

Last month, Brazil boss Tite took the skipper's armband away from the Selecao's third-highest scorer and gave it to club mate Dani Alves instead, although it proved academic as Neymar was then ruled out of the Copa America due to an ankle ligament injury picked up in a friendly against Qatar.

World Cup-winning former Brazil midfielder Kleberson believed Tite made the "right decision", saying: "Everyone in Brazil has a lot of respect and admiration for Neymar with his ability, but nowadays in football, when you do something wrong, everyone can see it.

"Neymar is still making mistakes off the pitch which affect his game on the pitch.

"I think everyone in Brazil agrees with the decision."

Al-Khelaifi's outburst comes just days after former PSG sporting director Leonardo returned to the club in the same position, replacing Antero Henrique.

"I realised changes were essential," Al-Khelaifi said.

"Otherwise, we were going nowhere. Leonardo will have absolute sporting power...

"His natural authority will be good for everybody - especially the players."

Last week, PSG midfielder Julian Draxler said that there were big egos in the French giants' ranks and suggested that his role in the side was affected by that.

He told German publication Kicker: "They (Neymar, Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Angel di Maria) have big egos, everyone wants to be the top scorer.

"In this case, you need someone who plays behind them in the build-up and thinks more defensively."

PSG have not made it past the last 16 of the Champions League in the last three seasons.