Neymar: Lionel Messi and I lived through hell at Paris Saint-Germain

Brazilian star talks about his difficult times in the French capital when the club's fans turned against both players

Lionel Messi , left, and Neymar during their spell at Paris Saint-Germain. EPA
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Brazil star Neymar has spoken about his difficult times at Paris Saint-Germain, describing how he and teammate Lionel Messi "lived through hell" at the French club.

Neymar became the world’s most expensive player following his €222m transfer to PSG in 2017, going on to win the Ligue 1 title four times during an injury-hit spell.

When he was joined by Messi in 2021, after the Argentine left Spanish giants Barcelona, it was hoped that big-spending PSG could finally make the leap to becoming European champions for the first time in the club's history.

But even the attacking trio of Neymar, Messi and Kylian Mbappe could not inspire the team to Champions League glory as PSG were knocked out in the last-16 by Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in successive campaigns.

During the 2022/23 season, both Neymar and Messi found themselves the target of fan fury with supporters protesting outside the Brazilian's home at one point.

That incident came at the same time as Messi being suspended by the club after taking an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia when he was supposed to train with his team following a 3-1 defeat at home to Lorient. He was jeered by PSG fans on his return to action.

After the season was over, both players had left the French capital – Messi for Major League Socccer club Inter Miami and Neymar to Saudi Pro League side Al Hilal.

In an interview with Globo, given in June but aired on Sunday, Neymar was asked about how he felt seeing his old Barcelona teammate lift the World Cup with Argentina in Qatar.

"I was very happy for the year he had, but at the same time very sad, because he lived both sides of the coin," said the 31-year-old, who has yet to appear for Al Hilal as he recovers from injury.

"He went to heaven with the Argentina team, won everything in recent years, and with Paris he lived hell, we lived through hell, both he and I.

"We get upset, because we're not there for nothing, we're there to do our best, [to] be champions, try to make history. That's why we started playing together again, we came together there so we could make history. Unfortunately, we didn't make it."

Neymar added that the criticism of Messi was partcularly out of order: “He’s a guy who trains, who fights, if he loses he gets angry and he was unfairly targeted, in my opinion."

Messi himself made statements about his "fractured" relationship with sections of PSG fans after his exit. The Argentine played his final game for the club in June but was again jeered despite helping PSG secure the Ligue 1 title once again and finishing the campaign with 16 goals and 16 assists.

“I think in the beginning it was something wonderful,” said Messi in an interview with beIN Sports. “But then some people started to treat me differently, a part of the Paris supporters.

“I think the vast majority still see me and treat me as they did at the beginning, but there was a fracture with a significant group of the Paris fans, which obviously wasn't my intention, far from it.

“It happened just as it had happened before with Mbappe, with Neymar. I know that's the way they behave.

“I'll take away with me the people who respected me, as I always respected everyone since I arrived and that's all.”

Updated: September 04, 2023, 4:28 PM