Neymar has a lot of haters.
I am not one of them.
I enjoy watching the Brazilian play football because, despite all the distractions, he’s bloody good.
Still, I understand why so many seem to revel in his misery.
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He possesses an ego typical of a supremely talented footballer who has had smoke blown up his backside since he was 17 years old.
Some feel he sacrificed his footballing integrity when he traded Barcelona for PSG in 2017; a transfer that caused a widespread re-evaluation of the financial aspect of the game.
And then there’s the diving.
Certainly, Neymar is not as objectively likeable as Lionel Messi, Luka Modric, Raheem Sterling, and several other top-bracket stars who have retained their humility.
Part of Kylian Mbappe’s early charm was that there appeared to be a humble kid behind the phenomenal talent.
In recent weeks however, I’ve noticed a shift in the Frenchman’s personality and demeanour, on the pitch at least.
The Neymar-ification of Mbappe is progressing swiftly.
Nimes forward Denis Bouanga recently told French media: “When you compare him at Monaco and PSG, he’s not showing the same attitude.
“He is acting like Neymar and is not being himself. It is annoying a lot of the players.”
I do not watch PSG religiously by any means but I do when I can, as I have a strange interest in their uniquely irksome nature.
In recent weeks they have limped over the title race line, in the most spineless manner imaginable, and lost to Rennes in the Coupe de France final.
Rare domestic friction has exposed the worst in the Parisians, Mbappe included.
The 20-year-old was sent off in the cup final for a dreadfully high tackle after PSG had relented a 2-0 lead.
This display of violent frustration was the culmination of mounting petulance that has also made Mbappe prone to verbal barbs, visible strops, and, most Neymar-like of all, blatant dives.
He has also publicly criticised Thomas Tuchel and his team-mates.
The German coach responded by dropping Mbappe for PSG’s trip to Nantes, citing ‘disciplinary reasons’ when questioned by the media.
I sympathise with a young man dumped head first into a big, steaming pile of fame.
None of us know how we would react to becoming a globally recognised celebrity — keeping your ego in check would undoubtedly be difficult.
I just hope someone puts an arm around Mbappe and reminds him of his priorities.
In a purely footballing sense, Neymar is a fine role model, team-mate and mentor for the 2018 Kopa trophy winner.
But some of the Brazilian’s habits are best not replicated.
Neymar recently incurred a three-game European ban for criticising the officials following Man United’s win at the Parc des Princes.
And he faces a lengthy domestic ban for taking a swipe at a gloating Rennes fan after the cup final.
Mbappe is a generational player, one who may win a future Ballon d’Or.
It would be a terrible shame if his attitude detracted from his unquestionable ability — a fate partiality suffered by Neymar.
NEXT: Lionel Messi deliberately does nothing for the first five minutes of every game… and it works