Brazilian forward Neymar insists club teammate Lionel Messi has nothing to prove to his critics in his second season as a Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) player.
Messi had an underwhelming first campaign with PSG following his move from FC Barcelona, scoring 11 goals in 34 games.
This was down on the 38 scored with Barca the previous year.
The Argentina captain assisted 14 goals, though, 10 of which came after the turn of the year.
Only Barca’s Ousmane Dembele (11) has managed more across Europe’s top five leagues in 2022.
The 35-year-old impressed in his first competitive outing of the 2022/2023 campaign on Sunday as he opened the scoring in PSG’s 4-0 Trophee des Champions win over Nantes.
However, when asked if that display is a sign of a new Messi at PSG, Neymar leapt to the defence of his colleague.
“I don’t think so. I think people talk too much,” he said. “They don’t know what’s going on every day, what’s going on inside.
“Leo, it’s Leo. It’s still Leo, it doesn’t change. No, he continues to make the difference. He adapts.
“It is obvious that we hope that everything goes well for the three of us, for me, for Leo, for Kylian [Mbappe]. If the three of us are well, I’m sure it’s good for the team.”
Neymar scored twice after Messi had opened the scoring in Tel Aviv and Sergio Ramos was also on target as PSG won their first silverware under Christophe Galtier.
The Parisians have now won 11 Trophee des Champion crowns, including nine of the past 10 editions of the competition.
Neymar, who also created a game-high three goalscoring chances, is pleased to have started the new campaign —- his sixth with PSG —- in style.
“I’m satisfied. We had a very good match with the team,” he said. “It’s very important to start winning and it’s a match that ends in a trophy. Whatever happens, you have to win.”(dpa/NAN)