Neymar laughed off controversy Thursday over reports he was throwing a mega New Year’s party for 500 guests, posting a video online of preparations for what he called a “low-key dinner” with family and friends.
The superstar footballer has faced a flood of criticism in his native Brazil and beyond over reports that despite the coronavirus pandemic he was ringing in 2021 with a week-long bash for hundreds of people at his mansion outside Rio de Janeiro.
However, he took to Instagram several hours before midnight to show his New Year’s Eve plans, which he described as small-scale.
The 28-year-old Paris Saint-Germain striker posted a video of a dinner table that appeared to be for about 40 guests, decked out with white flowers and an empty chair between each place setting.
Brazil’s star footballer Neymar is at the center of a new controversy storm after several Brazilian media reported that he’s organizing a huge New Year’s Eve party despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Acelmo Goes, a columnist for the O Globo newspaper, claimed that the Paris Saint-Germain forward is hosting 500 people for a week-long party at his luxury beachside mansion near Rio de Janeiro that started on Saturday and will last until New Year’s Day.
Brazil has suffered the second-largest number of Covid-19 related deaths in the world with more than 191,000, while 7.4 million people have contracted the virus.
Neymar, who is no stranger to controversies over his parties, allegedly even installed soundproofing equipment to try to avoid bothering his neighbors.
Leo Dias, a columnist for the Metropoles website who is renowned for his scoops on celebrities, even named the artists due to perform at Neymar’s party, such as Ludmilla and Wesley Safadao.
Guests’ mobile phones are allegedly due to be confiscated on the door to prevent any evidence from finding its way onto social media.
Representatives for Neymar denied the rumors, releasing a statement saying there would be “no party” in Neymar’s villa.
A specialist events agency, Agencia Fabrica, released a statement confirming it had been contracted for a New Year’s event in the Costa Verde region where Neymar’s villa is located “that will host around 150 people … while respecting all the health rules determined by the public bodies.”
Neymar’s villa is in Mangaratiba, a small town in an area of luxury seaside resorts in Rio de Janeiro state.
The local town hall has pleaded with its 41,000 inhabitants not to hold end-of-year parties and has erected barriers to prevent people from congregating.
“We don’t have any information about this party,” the town hall said in a statement sent to AFP.
Neymar, who hasn’t played since December 13 when he injured his ankle against Lyon, hasn’t commented on the party and in recent days has posted pictures of his family on social media without commentaries.
His Mangaratiba mansion is located on a 10,000m2 plot of land that includes a heliport, sports pitches, spa, sauna, massage parlor, gymnasium and dining areas.
It’s where he previously spent his time recovering from injuries and also where he headed from March to June when the coronavirus was raging in France leading to the suspension of professional football.
Neymar is “expected” to make his return from an ankle injury next month, Paris Saint-Germain announced on Saturday.
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel had said he was hoping Neymar might be fit to play a part in Sunday’s clash with Ligue 1 leaders Lille, but the Parisians said in a statement the Brazil attacker would be out until the New Year.
“There is some bruising to the bone and he continues to undergo treatment at the training ground,” the French champions said in a statement.
“He is expected to make his return in January.”
That would see the world’s most expensive player return comfortably in time for PSG’s Champions League last-16 first leg against Barcelona on February 16.
Neymar, who has scored nine goals this season, suffered a sprained ankle after a challenge from Lyon midfielder Thiago Mendes earlier this month.
Paris Saint-Germain are hoping to have Neymar back in time for their top-of-the-table clash at Lille on Sunday, as the Brazil superstar looks to have recovered quicker than expected from what looked like a bad ankle injury.
Coach Thomas Tuchel said “for Neymar we will do everything” after Wednesday’s 2-0 win over struggling Lorient, which put the champions second and keeps them just a point behind Ligue 1 leaders Lille.
Neymar had already revealed the injury, which came after a rough Thiago Mendes tackle during last weekend’s 1-0 home loss to Lyon, was not as bad as initially thought.
However such a speedy return still seemed unlikely until Tuchel revealed he could yet feature at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
“I can’t say ‘No, he’s not playing against Lille’. It is possible. We can try, we will try everything,” Tuchel said.
His return would be a huge boost to PSG’s morale after a strife-ridden opening few months of the season which has led to speculation over Tuchel’s future.
A win on Sunday would put the capital city side back on top of the pile after they moved above Lyon in the midweek round of fixtures, with a five-match winning-streak for Rudi Garcia’s side coming to an end with a dramatic 2-2 draw with Brest.
PSG’s other major title rivals Marseille host Reims on Saturday as they lurk five points back but with a game in hand.
Fourth-placed Marseille go into the weekend having lost ground in the title race following a 2-1 defeat at Rennes, who have won two on the bounce after a miserable run in which they lost seven of their previous eight in all competitions.
There appears to be some tension in the Marseille camp after coach Andre Villas-Boas launched an attack on a journalist at French newspaper La Provence.
According to witnesses the Portuguese boss targeted the reporter with threats of “I’ll get you” and criticised their work during the post-match press conference.
The row, apparently over an article which slammed Villas-Boas’ career record in the Champions League following their dismal effort in this year’s competition, then carried on outside Rennes’ Roazhon Park as the reporter and coach faced each other down.
Lille, meanwhile, seem confident they can maintain their slight hold on the summit and make this a true title race in a league now used to PSG dominance.
The northern outfit seem to be unworried by a potential change in ownership, with president Gerard Lopez saying he would “completely withdraw” from the club if a bid from a Luxembourg investment fund is accepted.
“Both teams are tired, Paris might have more quality but in one game everything is there to play for,” said coach Christophe Galtier.
Player to watch: Yusuf YaziciTurkey’s Yazici continued his impressive recent form on Wednesday when he scored the opening goal in Lille’s 2-0 win at Dijon.
The 23-year-old showed the composure that has seen him score five times in just three Ligue 1 starts, and six in as many Europa League appearances, when he slotted home Zeki Celik’s cutback in the 19th minute.
Yazici signed for Lille in the summer of 2019 but this has become the attacker’s breakout season, his two hat-tricks at Sparta Prague and AC Milan helping his side reach the Europa League last 32, where they will face four-time European champions Ajax.
Key stats5 – goals that Yusuf Yazici has scored this Ligue 1 season
12 – the number of games Lyon have played since last losing
4 – PSG have already lost to Lens, Marseille, Monaco and Lyon so far this season
Fixtures (all times GMT)Saturday
Metz v Lens (1600), Marseille v Reims (1800), Nice v Lyon (2000)
Brest v Montpellier (1200), Dijon v Monaco, Strasbourg v Bordeaux, Nantes v Angers, Saint-Etienne v Nimes (all 1400), Lorient v Rennes (1600), Lille v Paris Saint-Germain (2000)
Paris Saint-Germain surrendered top spot in Ligue 1 after losing 1-0 at home to Lyon on Sunday but potentially suffered a more devastating blow as an anguished Neymar was stretchered off with an ankle injury.
Tino Kadewere’s first-half goal secured Lyon a seventh win in eight matches as they moved level with Lille, who took over first place earlier in the day following a 2-1 home victory over Bordeaux.
PSG dropped to third after losing for the fourth time in 14 games this season, but the far greater concern will be the health of Neymar after his ankle appeared to twist awkwardly under a challenge from Thiago Mendes in stoppage time.
The Lyon midfielder was sent off for the tackle following a VAR review while a distraught Neymar, in considerable pain, was taken off on a stretcher having immediately signalled for medical assistance.
“He’s with the physio and the doctors and we have to wait for the tests tomorrow (Monday),” PSG coach Thomas Tuchel told French broadcaster Telefoot.
Lyon’s first win away to PSG since October 2007, the last season they won the Ligue 1 crown, provided fresh hope of a genuine title race this term with the top five teams separated by just three points.
“We defended well, we destroyed their strength, and then played well enough in attack to score at least once,” said Lyon coach Rudi Garcia.
PSG trail the leading duo by a point with Marseille, who have two games in hand on their rivals, another point back in fourth alongside Montpellier.
“Losing top spot doesn’t worry me. But we didn’t have the right approach and I have a problem with that,” said Tuchel.
“We were never mentally ready to play this match. We were shot mentally. We never found our rhythm either. We didn’t play with enough concentration or discipline.
“It was a big step backwards after the last match. I’m surprised. I was expecting a very high level.”
With Kylian Mbappe rested from the start, Moise Kean partnered Neymar in attack following the Brazilian’s hat-trick in the midweek 5-1 Champions League win against Istanbul Basaksehir — a game that was completed 24 hours later than planned after an unprecedented anti-racism protest.
Kimpembe error punished
However, it was Lyon, without any European commitments this season, who took the lead on 35 minutes after a loose pass under pressure from PSG captain Presnel Kimpembe.
Karl Toko Ekambi collected the ball in the PSG half and immediately picked out Kadewere who steadied himself before sliding low beyond Keylor Navas for the Zimbabwe international’s fifth goal of the campaign.
Alessandro Florenzi drew a sharp save from Anthony Lopes before half-time while a thumping effort from Lucas Paqueta called Navas into action midway through the second half, just after the introduction of Mbappe.
After Navas kept out an attempt from Lyon substitute Bruno Guimaraes, Mbappe had a late chance to rescue a point for PSG but shot wide from the edge of the area in time added on before Neymar’s unwelcome injury.
Portugal defender Jose Fonte, who turns 37 later this month, scored the winner for Lille with a bullet header just before half-time against Bordeaux.
Jonathan Bamba’s exquisite curling strike gave Lille the lead on 16 minutes at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy before Toma Basic levelled from a Hatem Ben Arfa corner.
Lille travel to bottom side Dijon in midweek before the visit of defending champions PSG next Sunday in what could be a defining week for a club chasing a first league title since 2011.
“I don’t think we can fight with Paris for the title. We need to fight to pick up points and stay at the top,” said Lille coach Christophe Galtier, keen to temper expectations.
Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar defended the decision of his team and Istanbul Basaksehir to walk off the pitch in this week’s Champions League match following alleged racist remarks by an official, as the world’s most expensive player stated racism “has no place in football or in life”.
“What happened was unacceptable. In the times we live in we cannot accept differences being made like that about colour or race,” Neymar told French broadcaster RMC Sport after scoring a hat-trick when the game was restarted on Wednesday, with PSG winning 5-1.
“It has no place in football, or in life, or in any sport, so our attitude was perfect.”
The match in Paris was halted in the 14th minute on Tuesday as a row erupted amid accusations the Romanian fourth official had used a racist term to describe Basaksehir’s Cameroonian assistant coach, Pierre Webo.
With Basaksehir refusing to come back out unless the official was removed, the game was played to a finish 24 hours later with a new refereeing team.
Meanwhile, European football’s governing body UEFA has opened an investigation into the unprecedented incidents.
“Sometimes in extreme circumstances these things need to be done to see if the world can change a little,” said Neymar, who together with other players took a knee before the restart on Wednesday in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘The fault of one person’
PSG had already qualified for the last 16 before the restart, but they needed to beat Basaksehir to finish top of their group and Kylian Mbappe scored their other two goals in a one-sided game.
Neymar added: “Yesterday I wasn’t very happy because we had prepared ourselves for the game, and so to go back home, then get the body warmed up again for the next day, is very hard, but we all accepted it. We all decided to do it together.”
Meanwhile, Basaksehir coach Okan Buruk accused the Romanian referee, Ovidiu Hategan, of failing to properly manage the situation after the alleged comments made by the fourth official, Sebastian Coltescu.
“The fourth official used an unacceptable word to Pierre Achille Webo. The referee should have dealt with the situation properly but didn’t. We had to show that we were with Webo,” Buruk said.
“The players decided to stop. Some of them didn’t want to come back out. We are a team and we had to stick together.”
He added: “UEFA did the right thing by making it possible to play the next day.
“Webo was upset. We all gave him our support, but it’s someone else who should feel bad and that is the person who used the words. He is the guilty one.
“We have to show that we can all live together. Humanity is the most important thing.”
The incident drew a reaction from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is understood to have close links to the Turkish champions.
However, Buruk played down suggestions that the row could spill over into a diplomatic issue.
“There are no problems between Turkey and Romania. It is the fault of one person, not an entire country,” he said.
Moise Kean restored the advantage for PSG on 77 minutes after Rafinha triggered a quick counter, hitting a magnificent solo goal for his fifth in seventh league games.
The Italy international was then replaced by Mbappe, who wrapped up the victory in stoppage time as he brought up his century of goals in his 137th game for PSG, tapping in a Layvin Kurzawa cross.
“I’ve been wanting to score for a few matches, it’s a bit of a release,” Mbappe told Canal Plus.
“When I signed here I wouldn’t even had thought of scoring three goals,” he beamed. “(A hundred) was part of a distant goal.”
Mbappe is joint-fourth on the list of PSG’s all-time top scorers, level with Dominique Rocheteau and trailing Pauleta (109), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (156) and Edinson Cavani (200).
“I’m feeling better and better, stringing matches together is going to allow me to get fully fit,” he said.
“When I came here, I said that I wanted to get a lot better and you don’t do that in a year.
“It’s been three and a half years, I’ve experienced a lot of things here. I’ve had some less good moments, but the club has always supported me.”
Defending champions PSG pulled four points clear of Marseille at the top as they avoided going three league games without victory for the first time since April 2019.
Montpellier, without top scorer Andy Delort after he tested positive for coronavirus for the second time in three months, saw their hopes of dislodging the leaders dashed as their four-match winning run came to an end.
Earlier, Rennes crashed to a sixth defeat in seven matches as they lost 2-0 at home to Lens, three days being dumped out of Europe.
Teenage striker Arnaud Kalimuendo, on loan from PSG, hit the opener on 27 minutes and Ignatius Ganago sealed the victory late in the second half.
Neymar dropped a bombshell on Wednesday as he followed up scoring twice for Paris Saint-Germain in their 3-1 Champions League win over Manchester United by revealing his desire to reunite with Lionel Messi next season.
The Brazilian enjoyed four successful seasons alongside the six-time Ballon d’Or winner at Barcelona before making a world record 222 million euro ($264m) move to the French capital in 2017.
“It’s what I most want, to enjoy being with him on the field again,” Neymar, whose contract at PSG runs until 2022, told ESPN.
“I want to play with him for sure, next year we have to do it.”
Neymar was heavily linked with a return to Barcelona in 2019, but the Catalan giants were unable to fund an acceptable offer for PSG.
Barca have had to agree salary cuts worth 122 million euros in players’ salaries this season to help offset the financial hole left by the coronavirus pandemic and are highly unlikely to be in a position to bring Neymar back next year.
Instead, it is Messi who could be on the move as the Argentine is out of contract at the end of the season and publicly expressed his desire to leave in August.
Then Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu would not free Messi from the final year of his deal at the Camp Nou, but Bartomeu has since resigned with new presidential elections scheduled for January 24.
Manchester City were the favourites to land Messi’s signature earlier this year, but PSG could be an alternative for a player who will turn 34 at the end of this season.
“He can play in my position, there is no problem,” Neymar joked. “Take me out.”
Neymar’s partnership with Kylian Mbappe is yet to deliver PSG’s first ever Champions League title, but the French champions should have another shot in this season’s knockout stages after a vital victory in Manchester.
Thomas Tuchel’s men are now level on points with United and RB Leipzig with one game in Group H to come.
But PSG are in the driving seat as they host already-eliminated Istanbul Basaksehir next week, while United travel to Germany needing a point to reach the last 16.
Paris Saint-Germain took a huge step towards avoiding an embarrassing early exit from the Champions League and left Manchester United with work to do to reach the last 16 as Neymar scored twice in a 3-1 win at Old Trafford.
PSG, United and RB Leipzig are now all tied on nine points at the top of Group H with one game to go.
But the French champions are in the driving seat as they host eliminated Istanbul Basaksehir on Tuesday, while United need a point when they travel to Germany.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were left to rue a host of huge chances early in the second half with the match poised at 1-1 after Marcus Rashford cancelled out Neymar’s early opener.
“We had some big chances, big moments and that’s the difference when you get to the big games,” said Solskjaer.
However, the United boss’ decision not to replace Fred before he was sent off seconds after Marquinhos scored PSG’s second was a naive mistake which cost his side.
The Brazilian midfielder had been lucky to escape a red card before half-time when he was only shown a yellow card after a headbutt on Leandro Paredes was reviewed.
“Fred shouldn’t put his head towards him, it’s either nothing or a red card, he’s a bit lucky to stay on,” conceded Solskjaer, who admitted to considering making a change at half-time.
“We spoke about staying calm, staying on your feet and the second one is nowhere near a yellow card.”
Leipzig’s late winner in a 4-3 thrillier in Istanbul earlier on Wednesday piled the pressure on PSG to win and keep their fate in their own hands going into matchday six.
The visitors started brightly in response and went in front after just six minutes when Neymar pounced on Kylian Mbappe’s deflected shot to drill low past David de Gea.
Fred’s first lucky escape came on 24 minutes as Italian referee Daniele Orsato decided a yellow card was sufficient after reviewing the headbutt incident.
Tuchel was furious when United needed just eight more minutes to make the most of that reprieve when Rashford’s shot took a wicked deflection off Danilo to wrong-foot Keylor Navas.
Fred was fortunate again moments later when he trod on Paredes, but it was the Argentine who was booked.
But if PSG’s luck was out before the break, they got the let-off they needed at the start of the second period through United’s profligacy.
Anthony Martial somehow blazed over with the goal at his mercy after brilliant work from Rashford and Edinson Cavani.
Cavani is PSG’s record goalscorer after scoring 200 times in seven seasons at the Parc des Princes, but the Uruguayan was allowed to leave for free when his contract expired in June.
The 33-year-old was inches away from exacting revenge with a delicate chip over Navas that came back off the crossbar before Marquinhos’s brave block denied Martial again.
Tuchel’s future as PSG boss would be plunged into doubt by a failure to progress from the group stage, but he made a telling contribution with a change of system to shore up his side’s susceptibility on the counter-attack as Ander Herrera and Mitchel Bakker were introduced.
De Gea produced an incredible save from Bakker low to his left, but that only delayed PSG retaking the lead by a few seconds as, from the resulting corner, the ball broke for Marquinhos to prod home from close range.
“We knew the little details would make the difference,” Marquinhos told RMC Sport. “They didn’t take their chances, we took ours and we are delighted tonight.
“In the second half, we had the courage and personality to play and take risks. The coach gave us confidence, telling us to take risks. It worked and we are really pleased.”
Less than a minute after the goal, United were finally down to 10 men as Fred’s luck ran out despite playing the ball before tripping Herrera.
United still came close to salvaging the point they needed to qualify as substitute Paul Pogba’s sweetly struck volley flew just over before Bruno Fernandes headed too close to Navas.
But PSG gained some measure of revenge for their stunning Champions League elimination to United in 2019 by sealing a huge win with a third in stoppage time when Neymar rolled home Rafinha’s cut-back.
European player of the year Robert Lewandowski is one of 10 players on the shortlist for the Best FIFA Men’s Player award unveiled Wednesday, alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe.
Besides Polish striker Lewandowski, one other winner of the Champions League with Bayern Munich made the list, Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara, who joined Liverpool in September.
The English champions also count Senegal’s Sadio Mane, Egyptian Mohamed Salah and Dutchman Virgil van Dijk on the shortlist.
Paris Saint-Germain, beaten Champions League finalists, are represented by Mbappe and Neymar.
Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos complete the list.
Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa, who led Leeds into the English Premier League, headlines a list for the men’s coach award, which also features Bayern’s Hans-Dieter Flick, Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui and Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane.
A nervy Paris Saint-Germain were outplayed for long spells but held on after an early Neymar penalty to beat RB Leipzig 1-0 on Tuesday and revive their Champions League campaign.
Last season’s runners-up had lost two of their opening three matches in Group H and would have been staring at an early exit from the competition had they lost again to the Germans behind closed doors at the Parc des Princes.
Yet Neymar’s 11th-minute spot-kick proved enough for PSG as Leipzig failed to convert any of the chances that came their way.
Both sides are now level on six points with two games still to come, with Manchester United three points clear at the top of the section after easing to a 4-1 victory over Istanbul Basakeshir on Tuesday.
Crucially, PSG have the head-to-head advantage over Leipzig, thanks to an away goal, if the two teams end level on points. They lost 2-1 when the teams met in Germany three weeks ago.
Thomas Tuchel’s team go to Old Trafford next and the feeling is that the French champions could still just as easily advance to the last 16 in the first place as they could fail to qualify at all.
They brushed Leipzig aside in the semi-finals of last season’s competition in Lisbon in August but collapsed worryingly in their last meeting with Julian Nagelsmann’s team after taking an early lead.
Here they again went in front and then succeeded in seeing the game out despite struggling desperately to maintain possession and stop the waves of Leipzig attacks.
The spot-kick was awarded when Marcel Sabitzer was rather harshly adjudged to have fouled Angel di Maria just inside the area.
Neymar stepped up to roll the ball home from 12 yards for his first Champions League goal of the season on what was his first start in almost a month after injury.
Alongside him, Kylian Mbappe saw his European goal drought go on — Ligue 1’s leading scorer has still not scored a Champions League goal in 2020 in eight appearances.
Nevertheless, PSG did not need their French World Cup-winning superstar to be at his best as Leipzig — who have not managed to replace Timo Werner since the Germany striker left for Chelsea — were unable to turn their dominance of possession into goals.
Dayot Upamecano saw his header tipped over by Keylor Navas and Emil Forsberg turned a Dani Olmo cross over the top in the first half.
The pressure continued at the start of the second half, but Forsberg and Sabitzer notably missed the target and the chances dried up after the home side reverted to a three-man central defence in the closing stages.