Former Paris Saint-Germain man Jérôme Rothen blasted Neymar's delayed return to France until later this month after the French giants confirmed that the Brazil international will continue his recovery from an ankle injury in his homeland until at least Jan. 9.
Rothen, now a pundit, played for PSG between 2004-2010 while Neymar has been at Parc des Princes since 2017 and the Frenchman took exception to the South American's latest extended period away from Paris on his RMC Sport show.
"Late returns, we have all been there when you play a lot over the first part of a season," said the 43-year-old. "I will not even bother talking about the players returning to training 48 hours before a game (Vannes OC in the Coupe de France). If they get by, as they should (a 4-0 win), it is no problem. If not, that is professional misconduct. However, hearing about Neymar, Mister Neymar, it is a total joke. Him alone but also the club. An absolute sketch."
Rothen pointed to Neymar as a declining force in PSG's attack after a painfully slow start to the 2021-22 season after last summer's Copa America on home soil which was followed by the ex-Barcelona man indicating that he sees the 2022 FIFA World Cup as his last.
"How is it acceptable from such a player who has played 50% of games this season and is returning below previous years in terms of goals and assists?" questioned the former France international. "He is less efficient, getting older, puts on weight when he is out of action and does not lead a healthy lifestyle. When you are over 30, you do not recover like you did at 25."
Neymar was not the only one to feel Rothen's wrath, though, as the former AS Monaco and Rangers man slammed sporting director Leonardo for allowing his compatriot to behave in such a manner which damages the club's reputation.
Atualização Médica: “Neymar Jr continuará seus cuidados no Brasil até o dia 9 de janeiro com membros da equipe médica e de performance do Paris Saint-Germain. Seu retorno aos treinos ainda é esperado em cerca de três semanas”.#neymar #neymarjr #njr #psg #parissaintgermain pic.twitter.com/zPcVMKJ91T— Neymar Jr Site (@NeymarJrSite) January 3, 2022
"It is unacceptable from the club," he said. "Once again, I blame the sporting director as he manages the sporting side of things. Also, his hands are not tied. We must stop thinking that the leaders, the president, or the coach stop him from doing this or that. He decides everything and he approved Neymar staying in Brazil until Jan. 9 for treatment."
Rothen suggested that Leonardo's second spell as PSG's transfer guru, which has come with increased powers, has been less impressive than the first and that there are more serious examples of how to perform the sporting director role in Italy, Germany, and England.
"You say that you are the sporting director for one of Europe's biggest clubs and that you want to win the Champions League," he went on. "In terms of the means, that is no problem. Compare him after his recent spell in Italy with Germany or England and see for yourself. How can there be so many absentees when returning to action? That never happens in other leagues."
Rothen reserved one final jab for Neymar in his outburst when blasting the player's regular use of social media to paint a picture which the former player feels is far from the truth ahead of February's UEFA Champions League showdown with Real Madrid on Paramount+ and CBS.
"You never have one of your key players treated abroad and less in his own country," said the Frenchman. "Neymar is on holiday. It is not normal, and PSG still suffers through this. Neymar's social media bullshit, poker, parties, and new year stuff. Now he is going to make comeback videos for us doing weights and say that he is getting ready to come back on form in February."
PSG travel to Olympique Lyonnais in Ligue 1 this coming Sunday before home clashes with Stade Brestois 29 and Stade de Reims to round out January as Les Parisiens await the result of Tuesday's latest Coupe de France draw.