Neymar’s stunning world-record move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain has shocked the football world, but it is in keeping with the French club’s rich history of attracting Brazilian stars to the capital.
The 25-year-old follows ex-Barcelona team-mate Dani Alves – scorer on debut in a 2-1 Trophee des Champions win over Monaco – in moving to the Parc des Princes this transfer window and will link up with a number of other compatriots at PSG.
There will be a great deal of expectation on Neymar’s shoulders given his eye-watering €222m fee and his already sizeable reputation as one of the world’s best.
Here, we samba our way through a selection of PSG’s boys from Brazil, who Neymar will attempt to surpass as the club’s greatest import from the country.
After spells at Flamengo, Sao Paulo, Valencia and Kashima Antlers, Leonardo flourished during a single campaign at PSG in 1996-97, later returning as director of football following the takeover by Qatar Investment Authority in 2011 to kick-start the club’s recent domestic hegemony.
— Leonardo (@leo_de_araujo) May 20, 2017
A team-mate of Leonardo’s at Sao Paulo and with Brazil, Rai enjoyed a glittering five-year spell at PSG from 1993 to 1998, winning the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, Ligue 1, Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue. He is the Brazilian with the most PSG appearances, 215 in all competitions.
— PSG Officiel (@PSG_inside) April 4, 2017
Ronaldinho is chiefly remembered for his career-best form at Barcelona from 2003 to 2008, but it was a two-year stint at PSG from 2001, encompassing Brazil’s success at the 2002 World Cup, that provided him with a springboard to global stardom.
Joyeux anniversaire à Ronaldinho qui fête ses 37 ans ! #PSGbirthday
— PSG Officiel (@PSG_inside) 21 March 2017
Lured from AC Milan at great expense in 2012, and followed soon after by the capture of Zlatan Ibrahimovic from the same source, centre-back Thiago Silva has since proven to be a major foundation of PSG’s pre-eminence in Ligue 1, which was only interrupted by Monaco against the odds last term.
Apparently something of an unofficial middle man in PSG’s Dani Alves coup, Maxwell rarely put a foot wrong in five years at Parc des Princes, having moved to Paris from Barcelona in 2012, before hanging up his boots this year.
— PSG Officiel (@PSG_inside) May 21, 2017
A naturalised Italian but born in Brazil, Thiago Motta also beat a march from Milan to PSG in 2012, but came from Inter rather than the Rossoneri. Now 34, he is still going strong and approaching 150 Ligue 1 appearances.
Unmissable on the field thanks to his Sideshow Bob haircut, David Luiz was a regular alongside Thiago Silva and kept another compatriot in the shape of Marquinhos out of the team during his two years at PSG from 2014 to 2016, before re-joining Chelsea and winning the Premier League last season.
— David Luiz (@DavidLuiz_4) March 14, 2016
PSG are believed to have seen off interest from Manchester United and Inter to capture forward Lucas Moura from the Sao Paulo production line in 2013, and he has proven to be a shrewd acquisition, scoring 32 goals in 145 Ligue 1 appearances, winning the title four times.
THE BEST OF THE REST
Alex, Marquinhos, Marcos Ceara, Nene, Ricardo, Valdo, Aloisio, Reinaldo and Christian are just a few more of the array of Brazilian players to have represented PSG, which is no mean feat given the club’s relatively brief history.
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