Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar refuses to change for his critics and curb his party habits.
"So, who doesn't like to party? Everyone likes to have fun," Neymar said to French television channel TF1 (via Adriana Garcia of ESPN). "I know when I can go, I know when I can do it, when I can't. Contrary to what people think, that I'm immature, that I don't know what I do."
Most recently, Brazilian media reported the 28-year-old was planning a large gathering in Rio de Janeiro despite Brazil reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. His spokesperson denied the accusation.
The New York Times' Rory Smith reported in August how the opinions about Neymar's off-field habits were far more deep-seated, especially after his 2017 transfer to PSG.
"In those first couple of years, the warning seemed apposite," Smith wrote. "Neymar was not just one of the most gifted players on the planet, and not just a marketing tour de force. He was, instead, the crown jewel of a project that was as much political as it was sporting, the world-record breaking centerpiece of Qatar's co-option of soccer in general, and PSG in particular, to transform the country’s global image.
"And so he was protected, coddled, infantilized. 'Of course Neymar has privileges,' the former PSG midfielder Adrien Rabiot once said. He could throw a birthday party a couple of days before a game, whether his coach knew or consented or not. He could train, at times, very much on his own schedule. He could disappear to watch the Davis Cup in Madrid with [former Barcelona teammate Gerard] Pique, much to [then-PSG manager Thomas] Tuchel's chagrin, and yet not be punished, because his coach is 'not his father, not the police.'"
To some extent, that's the cost of doing business when you employ a prodigious talent. Superstar players will get superstar treatment.
ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported how the Houston Rockets bent over backward to cater to James Harden, who at times was allowed to stay an extra night in one of his favorite road cities or have an off day so he could fly to a party destination.
The trade-off largely worked for the Rockets because Harden performed up to expectations on the court and made Houston a championship contender.
The same is largely true for the PSG and Neymar dynamic. The club has won three straight Ligue 1 titles following his arrival, and the Brazilian has scored 53 goals in 62 league appearances. He also had three goals and four assists in last year's Champions League campaign as PSG made their first UCL final.
Of course, the conversation may start to shift slightly if Paris Saint-Germain fail to improve upon their current third-place standing in Ligue 1.