Neymar “decided to go the other way” in joining Paris Saint-Germain and rejected the chance to “play with the best players,” Arsene Wenger has told beIN SPORTS.
The Brazil international left Barcelona to join PSG in a world record €222 million transfer over the summer, where he will form a front three with Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe.
He has had a hand in eight league goals so far, but his new “MCN” partnership, as the French press has dubbed it, has still not proved itself at the highest level in the same way as his “MSN” coupling with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi had at Barca.
“Neymar never expressed exactly in his statement the reasons of his move, because there is always a huge desire for the players to play with the best players,” Wenger said.
“He decided to go the other way, so that is… for financial reasons, or for reasons that he thinks Paris Saint-Germain is tomorrow’s club and will take over from Real Madrid and Barcelona, or for individual reasons, such as maybe he wants to become the player that the team turns around, and to be acknowledged as the best player in the world.”
Neymar’s arrival announced PSG’s intention of joining the very elite of European football with Mbappe set to give them a platform to remain at the top for years to come.
The 18-year-old will cost PSG €180m next summer with a purchase option in his season-long loan deal from Monaco activated if his new side avoid relegation.
Despite him potential price-tag, Mbappe could prove a bargain if Wenger’s belief in his potential is backed up by his performances.
“I think he is exceptionally intelligent, he has an exceptional character, and exceptional belief,” the Arsenal manager said of the teenager, who scored his first Ligue 1 goal for PSG in the 5-1 win at Metz on Friday.
“I say to my friends, ‘Mbappe is the new Pele.’ He can become the best player in the world, because as well the charisma, he has the character, the belief.
“You never think you’re speaking to an 18-year-old when you speak to him. He always gives you the impression when he gets the ball that something special can happen.”
Ian is ESPN’s French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman