When Xavi shoved Neymar in the face during Barcelona’s open-top bus parade in 2015

  • Rob Swan

With respected senior professionals like Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi at the club, Neymar was always going to be kept grounded after joining Barcelona in 2013.

The Brazilian is a playful character who relishes the limelight and there were Barça fans who were sceptical about bringing such a personality into the Camp Nou dressing room.

However, the Catalan giants knew they could ill-afford to allow Neymar, the best young footballer Brazil had produced in years, to join Real Madrid instead.

They subsequently paid Santos an initial £48.6 million - and this proved to be money very well spent.

Neymar went on to score 105 goals in 186 games for Barça, winning two La Liga titles, three Copas del Rey and the UEFA Champions League in the process.

He then decided he fancied a new challenge in 2017 and moved to Paris Saint-Germain, who splashed out a world record £198 million fee to sign the world-class forward.

Neymar, it could be argued, has managed to get away with far more at PSG over the past three years than he would have been allowed to at Barcelona.

He’s the main man at the Parc des Princes and knows it.


However, his ambition to become widely regarded as the best player in the world in Paris simply hasn’t happened. If anything, his reputation has regressed since leaving La Liga for Ligue 1.

Neymar hasn’t managed to inspire PSG to their first Champions League title so far and there’s been plenty of talk over the past 12 months that he would jump at the chance of a return to Spain.

His one and only Champions League title came in the 2014-15 season. He scored the third and final goal in a 3-1 victory for Barcelona over Juventus in Turin.

Barça also won La Liga that season after finishing two points clear of second-placed Real Madrid and the club celebrated their double triumph with an open-top bus parade.

However, there was a rather eyebrow-raising altercation between Neymar and Xavi during the parade, which took everyone by surprise.


Xavi, perched on the side of the bus, shoved Neymar in the face and told him to go away while wagging a finger in the Brazilian’s direction.

Watch the incident here…

But why was Xavi angry with Neymar?

The Spaniard would later tell Qatari newspaper Sport, per the Independent: "He (Neymar) was trying to take my shoes off and pushing me when I was on the edge of the bus.

“I said that they should stop messing about and concentrate on the people that had come out to wave as the bus passed.

"These parades are for the people after all. It’s okay to have three or four beers but the parade is for the people and it’s the chance for us to thank them for our support. You can’t just do what you want to do."


Xavi is one of the few footballers able to put Neymar in his place like this.

He felt his teammate had crossed the line and made his feelings crystal clear there and then.

It was this level of discipline, it could be argued, that Neymar perhaps needed for a little longer in his career.

And this wasn’t the only time that Neymar was publicly reprimanded by Xavi while at Barcelona.

When Neymar tried to embarrass an Athletic Bilbao player with a rainbow flick towards the end of the 2015 Copa del Rey final, which Barcelona had already effectively won, Xavi took a dim view of the incident.

"This sort of thing is accepted in Brazil but here he will need to learn how to win and to lose,” Xavi told reporters at the time. “He is an extraordinary player who also works hard and is very humble but he maybe just needs to reflect a little.

"If you do that [trick] in the first minute when it’s 0-0 it is one thing but if you do it when he did it… he needs to think about that."

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