The Spanish boss says he played a key role in luring the Brazilian superstar to Parc des Princes from Barcelona two-and-a-half-years ago
Unai Emery has revealed the part he played in Paris Saint-Germain‘s acquisition of Neymar, claiming it was left up to him to convince the attacker that the team would be built around him.
Neymar completed a world-record €222 million (£187m/$242m) move to PSG in 2017, bringing the curtain down on a hugely successful four-year spell at Barcelona.
It was Neymar who masterminded PSG’s last-16 exit from Europe’s elite competition, as his late double helped Barcelona overturn a 4-0 first-leg deficit to win 6-1 at Camp Nou and progress to the quarter-finals.
The Brazil international ultimately decided to step out of Lionel Messi’s shadow at Barca and undertake a new challenge in France, becoming the most expensive player in history in the process.
Neymar settled in quickly and played a key role in PSG’s domestic treble success in 2017-18, despite the fact his debut campaign was cut short by injury.
Emery has now taken credit for helping to convince Neymar to join the Parisians, after being backed by club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.
“I always felt supported by president Nasser,” the Spanish head coach told France Football. “For example, when we were about to sign Neymar, it was up to me to explain in person to Ney that we were going to build the team around him.
“With such a phenomenal player, you can’t tell him there is already a team there and that he will have to adapt. You have to create the team for him. Otherwise, he wouldn’t come – that’s for sure.
“The president and the directors discuss the contract, but it’s the coach who has to convince him of the game plan.”
Emery claims he “missed the chance to become the best coach in the world” while at PSG, insisting back luck in the Champions League ended up undermining his achievements domestically.
The 48-year-old took the top job at Arsenal after being sacked by the French champions, succeeding legendary boss Arsene Wenger in the Emirates Stadium hot seat.
He guided the Gunners to a fifth-placed Premier League finish and the Europa League final last season, before being dismissed in November after a poor run of results.
Neymar, meanwhile, has continued to struggle with injuries at PSG which have limited his contribution on the pitch, the latest of which saw him miss Sunday’s Ligue 1 clash with Lyon.