Neymar returns as PSG breeze past Monaco in French Super Cup
Days after admitting that he “fell apart” during the World Cup in Russia this summer, the world's most expensive player returned to domestic action as last season’s double-winners PSG inflicted the heavy defeat on French rivals Monaco in the season opener, which took place in Shenzhen, China.
A brace from Angel Di Maria, as well as a goal each from Christopher Nkunku and Timothy Weah, sent a seismic warning to their rivals, who finished runners-up in last season’s Ligue 1.
Monaco's new Russian signing Alexandr Golovin - who joined from CSKA Moscow for €30 million (US$35 million) - was absent from an under-strength side selected by coach Leonardo Jardim, but the club’s hierarchy will no doubt be unhappy at the measure of the defeat as they ceded mental ground to their chief rivals a week out from the season’s start.
While Neymar only had around 15 minutes on the pitch, the Brazilian impressed with his forward movement and ability to create space. The former Barcelona man is still finding fitness after Brazil’s exploits in the World Cup but he is expected to be in line for selection to the starting line-up for PSG’s Ligue 1 opener against Caen next week.
Neymar, 26, was cheered loudly by the Chinese crowd in his first game since Brazil’s World Cup exit at the hands of Belgium. He came under heavy criticism for his conduct during the tournament, when many analysts and supporters accused the forward of an overly-elaborate reaction to tackles and heavy challenges.
In a presumed effort to confront those accusations, Neymar released a commercial for Gillette which was widely broadcast in his native Brazil in which he admitted that “sometimes I do exaggerate on the pitch” and that he has “not learned how to be frustrated.”
It was later reported that Neymar was paid $266,000 to appear in the commercial.