Neymar – Should he stay or should he go?

One of the biggest transfer stories of the summer has been Neymar requesting to leave PSG and hoping to go back to Barcelona.  In this blog I’m going to look at how well Neymar performed last season compared to both his PSG teammates and his peers at Barcelona.  I have also included Barcelona’s major summer signing, Antoine Griezmann, to see how he also compares.  Once again, the stats I’m using come from understat.com which is a great resource.

The first chart compares Non Penalty Goals per 90 Minutes, alongside their expected equivalent.  The closer to the top right a player is the better he has performed and of course the closer to the bottom left the worse they performed.

As you can see Kylian Mbappe stands out on his own here.  Mbappe scored 1.23 NPG90 last season off an xNPG90 of 1.09 goals.  This is an incredible output by the young Frenchman.  Lionel Messi is next with an NPG90 of 1.07 compared to his xNPG90 of 0.74 goals.  Neymar sits in the middle group along with Suarez and Cavani.  Interestingly enough, Griezmann didn’t have the best scoring season last year.

From this chart, it looks like PSG won’t really miss Neymar’s goals as long as Mbappe continues this sort of form.  Barcelona, however, may be strengthened with Neymar coming back to the Nou Camp, as Luis Suarez scored less NPG90 than his xNPG90 and with Griezmann, Coutinho and Dembele not looking like prolific scorers.

What does Neymar bring to PSG in terms of assists?  Lets have a look at that and see if this is something that PSG would miss if Neymar leaves this summer.

Neymar is definitely more of a creator for PSG than a goalscorer.  If Neymar leaves, this would have to do replaced as Mbappe could struggle for goals if the chances are not being created for him.  Barcelona having Messi and Neymar back together creating chances could be lethal for any opponent though!

Neymar can’t just be judged on one season, so lets have a look at what he has done over the past 5 seasons.

Neymar’s best performances seem to come when he was at his happiest, back in 2014/15 at Barcelona and his first season at PSG.  His most unhappy seasons have been 2016/17 at Barcelona and 2018/19 at PSG.  Neymar’s morale and happiness do seem to make a big difference to his goal scoring prowess.

Looking now at his assists over the past 5 seasons, you can see that his best season again came when he was happy at PSG in 2017/18.  Considering how good of a creative season he had in 2018/19, this chart shows how good he was in 17/18 and how consistent he is overall with setting up teammates.

So, should PSG sell Neymar?  Short answer is yes.  When Neymar is unhappy his performances do suffer.  Mbappe should be able to take over the goalscoring duties and should still improve with age.  Barcelona will benefit from Neymar’s goals considering they seem to be relying more and more on Messi.

Creatively PSG may suffer.  There has been talk of Dembele and Coutinho moving to PSG as part of the deal.  Despite not having the goals, they are creative.  Only Messi and Neymar had more xA90 than Dembele and Coutinho last season, so they would be relied on to create the chances for Mbappe.

This could be win-win for everyone involved (well, for maybe two seasons for Barcelona before Neymar gets unhappy again!)

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