PARIS — After a tumultuous offseason, Brazilian superstar Neymar made his season debut with Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday. He was met by raucous booing from the home fans in Paris before scoring a stunning, winning goal.
The 27-year-old Brazilian had not played in any of PSG’s first four regular season matches as a transfer saga involving his old club Barcelona played out. The transfer window closed on September 2.
On Saturday fans booed almost every time he touched the ball.
But in stoppage time the star earned a little applause when he scored a goal-of-the-year candidate with a bicycle kick that kissed the left post before crashing into the net. But even as some cheered, others booed the striker.
PSG defeated Strasbourg 1-0 to stay undefeated in the French league.
ESPN reported the striker said he had no message for the home fans.
“I knew this would probably be tough. If they want to yell at me, they are free to,” he said, according to ESPN. “They should not focus on me, though. The most important thing is the team. From now on, I will be playing every home match as if it is away.”
The Brazil captain joined French side PSG from Barcelona in 2017 for a world record fee of 222 million euros (which translated to $263 million at the time).
Following surgery on a foot bone in March 2018, he missed the remainder of the season, finishing his first season in Paris with 28 goals in 30 matches.
In the 2018-19 season, PSG won the French Ligue 1 title for the second year in a row, but injuries once again plagued Neymar’s campaign. He missed 18 games in all competitions, including PSG’s dramatic exit from the Champions League at the hands of Manchester United.
The Brazilian forward also had to recover this year from a separate injury to his ankle, which he sustained in a friendly against Qatar in June. He didn’t play in Brazil’s triumphant Copa America campaign.