It started in the 12th minute. James Milner had just made his presence felt with a firm tackle but to watch Neymar writhing and rolling around, you would have thought the challenge was hip high.

You could see then it was going to be one of those nights. Every time a red shirt came in his vicinity, he would crumple to the ground, his face a scrunched up picture of pain. Not once, though, were Paris Saint-Germain’s medical staff were summoned to administer treatment.

You would think after all the criticism that rained down on him after his theatrical World Cup that the most expensive footballer in history would have wised up but, sadly, his penchant for amateur dramatics remains.

There is no joy taken from writing these words. Neymar should really be on a plateau with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, a magician lording it over the mortals. You saw flashes of that brilliance against Liverpool and his goal was dispatched in the manner of an assassin.

But it is impossible to warm to him. The preening, the posturing – his celebrations after scoring was a show of complete self-indulgence – and the unnecessary desire to take a tumble at the slightest contact all has an impact.

Parisians, of course, love him and they responded when he went to take a corner in the second half, his frantic arm-waving, whipping up some more noise in an arena that was already humming with sound.

You can see, however, that his fellow professionals find it all too much. In the 80th minute, as PSG were trying to finally see Liverpool off, he tumbled in the area with arms outstretched, squealing for a penalty to be awarded.

Virgil van Dijk, who had ushered him down a dead end, lost his temper, barking in his direction and imploring him to get off the floor. Had Van Dijk been given the opportunity, you could have easily seen him pulling Neymar to his feet.

Up in the BT Sport gantry, Steve McManaman observed: ‘Some of the play-acting from the beginning has been ridiculous.’

He was right. Nobody was more culpable than the man wearing No 10 and that is why, unless he changes, he will never be viewed as he should. Ronaldo and Messi do things that make you go ‘wow’. Neymar just does things that make you ask ‘why?’



                   

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