The Raging Debate Involving Neymar, Mbappé, and a Poker Night

  • After losing to Bayern, Mbappé called on his team to recover properly for the second leg
  • Neymar was spotted playing poker that night into the early hours and stopping for fast food after
  • Pundits and fans have debated the issue since, with some claiming Neymar was disrespectful
  • Neymar could be a doubt for the second leg regardless after suffering an injury at the weekend
Back of Neymar shirt
A heated debate has raged on for almost a week over Neymar’s late-night poker session following a major Champions League loss. [Image:]

Poker and fast food

While UEFA Champions League success might be the goal Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) craves the most, it seems that not all of the team’s superstars are on the same page about what it might take to attain it.

The French soccer giant lost the first leg of its Round of 16 matchup at Parc des Princes on Tuesday, with Bayern Munich coming out on top 1-0. In the aftermath of the game, star striker Kylian Mbappé spoke about the importance of players getting plenty of sleep and good food to fully recover for the second leg in Germany on March 8. 

Neymar was spotted playing poker in the early hours of Wednesday morning

Despite these comments from his teammate, Neymar Jr was spotted playing poker in the early hours of Wednesday morning. He was participating in the €10,200 ($10,892) Mystery Bounty tournament as part of the European Poker Tour (EPT) Paris event. The Brazilian soccer star made a deep run in the tournament but fell just short of the cash positions. After exiting, the 31-year-old then stopped off at McDonald’s for some fast food.

A raging debate has since erupted in TV studios and on social media with some even claiming Neymar and Mbappé may be at loggerheads.

Professionals have their say

PSG manager Cristophe Galtier was quick to play down any suggestion that Neymar had done anything wrong by taking part in the poker game, but confirmed he did have some words with the star over the fast food:

That hasn’t stopped the French pundits from reporting heavily on the subject however, leading to heated debates.

Some have suggested Neymar acted unprofessionally and disrespected his teammates on the night in question. Speaking on TV last week, RMC sport pundit Eric Di Meco questioned whether Neymar’s night out was a direct shot at Mbappé for the comments he made after the Bayern game. He pondered whether the Brazilian “wants to show that no one is telling him what to do.”

all will be forgotten if Neymar helps PSG get past Bayern

In contrast, popular pundit Karim Bennani does not believe that Neymar’s actions were a retaliation to Mbappé’s comments. He said that the Brazilian is entitled to do what he wishes during his time off, adding that all will be forgotten if Neymar helps PSG get past Bayern and into the Champions League quarter-finals.

More reaction online

PSG fans have a reputation for being very passionate about their team and many on social media have come to the defense of Neymar. One of the popular PSG fan accounts on Twitter had this to say in support of Neymar’s actions:

Another Twitter user called GR63_NJR urged those criticizing Neymar to “let the man live, seriously.” In a similar vein, neymessimbakimi, said: “Neymar getting hated on for playing poker at a professional poker event and going to McDonald’s with friends on his day off was not on my 2023 bingo card but go off I guess.”

After all the drama, Neymar is now a doubt to play in the second Bayern game anyway. He badly twisted his ankle during PSG’s 4-3 win over Lille on Sunday. While the club has confirmed that he did not suffer an ankle fracture, further tests will be necessary to gauge the severity of the injury. 

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