So, one of Paris Saint-Germain’s most popular players in recent times is seeking pastures new after an indifferent campaign that has seen his playing time considerably limited. Nene, a fantastic servant to this football club announced in the week that the time is right for him to uptake a new challenge. Although the news was far from surprising, it was still a feeling of dread that a player who has given the Parisiens some pleasant memories since 2010, will no longer be part of the club.
It was evident really since the summer that this scenario would occur. With a year to run on his contract, the club never ever really looked willing to offer him a new one. Despite their being talks between Nene and the hierarchy, discussions stalled, dates were put back and even deep down the player must have knew his time was up. Even on the last day of the summer transfer window, Turkish giants Besiktas were working excessively to get a deal done for him. Meetings in Monaco were arranged but the sticking point was the transfer fee. PSG wanted €8m but the fee was never agreed. It was no skin of the nose of the club who hardly needed to sell but at the same time were exploring that possibility. It must have been hard for the player after a wonderful campaign in 2012, to be deemed surplus to requirements.
Nevertheless, he stayed and Carlo Ancelotti utilised him sparsely. The injury to Ezequiel Lavezzi gave him some opportunities, but nowhere near the amount he played the season before where he was our best player and finished top goalscorer. The goings on behind the scenes such as Ancelotti’s admission that he was unimpressed with his attitude – leading to him being excluded from his matchday squads – and the row with director of football Leonardo at Camp des Loges, eventually made his imminent departure look all the more inevitable. His exclusion from the last two squads have been due to a niggling injury, according to the club. But, the day that was announced, the player posted a picture of himself on social networking sites at an ice rink – showing no strains of any pains there. Believe what you will, perhaps a little mischief on the part of Nene for uploading the picture, leading to us debating what the truth is.
Hopefully recent events went cascade the contribution of the Brazilian. Arriving from Monaco in the summer of 2010 for just €5.5m (an absolute steal), he scored on his competitive debut against Saint-Etienne and going on to score a flurry in the fall. He was instrumental in the first half of the season and even though his goals dried up, his contribution was a telling one. Antoine Kombouare must take a huge amount of credit. It was he who got the absolute best out of him, playing him on the left, which allowed him to cut inside and link up with Mevlut Erding and Guillaume Hoarau. PSG finished fourth in that first season of his, missing out on the Champions League by just four points. A huge achievement for the club after years of mediocrity.
Then of course came the takeover. An influx of players arrived but that did not deter the influence of the number 10. Without question the best season in his entire career (3/4’s of it anyway) he was named player of the month in October by L’Equipe and the club’s fans on the Official Website and it illustrated just how well things were going. Himself, Javier Pastore and Kevin Gameiro formed a formidable trio in the early going but it was all to fizzle out when Kombouare was eventually relieved of his duties and Ancelotti arrived. The influence was still there but the team faltered massively, a few bad results allowing Montpellier to realise a miracle by winning the title at our expense. Failing to beat them in February as well as Lyon and Lille were damaging. It did not stop Nene from banging in the goals though, scoring a hat-trick in the final home game of the season against Rennes. He finished the league’s joint top-scorer with Oliver Giroud (21). An incredible feat for a player who is not even a striker.
Let us not forgot just how big a role he has played in the club’s recent history. With the takeover, the influx of superstar names, Nene’s contribution in getting the club back into the higher echelons – of not only French but European football – is massive. He, along with a select few (Antoine Kombouare in particular), laid the foundations for what looks set to be a formidable era for the football club.
He will more than likely leave next month and going back home to Brazil looks the most likely. He will be sorely missed but the Parisien faithful will never forget what he has done in the navy blue. One thing is for sure, Lucas Moura has some big shoes till fill when he steps onto the turf of the Parc des Princes.