Neymar Discusses Pele Criticism, PSG Exit Rumours, Champions League Ambition

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2019

PSG's Neymar celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the League One soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Guingamp at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Michel Euler/Associated Press

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar has responded to criticism from Brazilian football legend Pele, saying he does not "approve" of it, and also dismissed the persistent exit speculation and links to La Liga.

Neymar came in for criticism during last summer's World Cup for going to ground too easily, and in a recent interview with Folha de Sao PauloPele said his fellow Brazilian's behaviour is "difficult to defend" and he "complicates" his gift of football.

Speaking to Canal (h/t Goal's Michael Plant), the Brazil international was asked about Pele's criticism and said he respected his opinion, even if he didn't approve of it:

"Pele's criticisms? I've found them interesting.

"As soon as you don't win, criticisms come. I've never been acting during the World Cup, I've just been subject to fouls.

"Today people talk a lot about that because it's Neymar and everything is amplified. I respect Pele's criticisms but I don't approve them."

Legendary Brazilian footballer Pele, speaks during the opening event of the 2018 Carioca Football Championship at Cidade das Artes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on January 15, 2018. 
Pele was named ambassador of the Championship.  / AFP PHOTO / MAURO PIMENTE
MAURO PIMENTEL/Getty Images

The 26-year-old was also asked about the latest round of rumours linking him with a return to Spain.

Former club Barcelona recently refuted claims they have been in contact with his father, per Goal, and Neymar said rumours of him leaving his club have been around since his debut for Santos: "Rumours of me leaving? There have been rumours like that since I've become a pro. But there's nothing concrete. As soon as there is something certain, I'll talk about it and I'll assume it, be sure of that."

The Brazilian is in his second season with PSG and has maintained an incredible scoring record for the Ligue 1 giants. He has formed a phenomenal attacking trident with Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani, battering all French opposition into submission.

While all three have been great since the trident came to life in the summer of 2017, Neymar has been the most efficient:

PSG dominated Ligue 1 in most of the seasons before Neymar's arrival, however, and the success of his transfer will ultimately be judged by what they do in the UEFA Champions League. He said he has a particular eye on that competition:

"I want to win everything, especially the Champions League, since it's every player's dream.

"United will be a good game for us and for people who like football. What do we lack in order to win the Champions League? You have to grow in this competition, everyone must attack and defend well. We were good defensively in the first games, we're getting better and better."

PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 19: Neymar Jr of Paris Saint Germain  during the French League 1  match between Paris Saint Germain v Guingamp at the Parc des Princes on January 19, 2019 in Paris France (Photo by Jeroen Meuwsen/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

He had two goals and an assist in his last outing, an incredible 9-0 win over Guingamp that pushed their lead in Ligue 1 back to 13 points, with two matches in hand still. Guingamp had bounced Les Parisiens from the Coupe de la Ligue earlier this month.

Les Parisiens will resume their Champions League campaign on February 12 against Manchester United.

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