For the Spaniards of my generation, Saint-Tropez was renowned for being the place where 1960s sex symbol Brigitte Bardot took her summer holidays. Now, that beautiful city situated on the Côte d’Azur is hitting the headlines again because Neymar has gone there to chill after his transfer to PSG. Neymar together with his ‘toiss’ – his posse, that band of breezy, over-confident and carefree chums, who follow him around like a group of Mariachis – ditching the guitars and sombreros for garishly-coloured swimming trunks; they are just as boisterous and loud.
Neymar and posse, living the high life on the Côte d’Azur
Neymar and his entourage slept in a chateau hired by his sponsors Nike and, according to local media, protected by 20 bodyguards which the club hired for them. Such lavishness suggests that Neymar represents a new breed of football superstar – one far removed from the old guard – those players who tended to shun the limelight. What seemed the norm not so long ago now appears outdated. Even quite some time back you got the impression that Neymar felt he could do whatever he liked – against the wills of the coach and indeed any authority at the club. The way he’s heading, it wouldn’t be a massive surprise if he started insisting that he will only drink purified water extracted from Chilean glaciers or making other, similarly ostentatious demands.
Neymar represents a new era of football superstar culture
Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised. They’ve splashed out 222 million euros on him and as soon as he arrived in Paris, the capital of so many things, he could see for himself how his transfer sent the city into a wild frenzy. Football is a huge draw with the masses who not only tolerate, but even approve of these lavish presentations of big name stars. Our beloved Xavi and Casillas, now in the twilight of their careers, are the last of the generation of classic superstars. With Neymar, the game has taken a definitive leap into a new era – one in which not being showy will be the unusual thing to do – a sign of the times we’re living in I'm afraid. Neymar has yet to competitively kick a football for PSG, but at least he is already living up to expectations.