Former Marseille midfielder Joey Barton has taken a swipe at Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar, claiming that he is “the Kim Kardashian of football”.
Barton won great popularity at Stade Velodrome for his approach on the pitch, while he will have only have earned more credit in the port city for having a pot shot at the biggest star of OM’s great rivals.
Neymar has come under particular focus following PSG’s 3-2 loss to Liverpool in the Champions League on Tuesday, which left critics unimpressed.
Among those watching on was Barton, who suggested that the 26-year-old is more about image than substance.
“I think he’s the Kim Kardashian of football,” he told L’Equipe. “Neymar’s not the best player in the world, as we saw again in Russia. He’s not at the level of Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi. There are many other players in the world in front of him.
“Neymar’s not a footballing phenomenon, he’s an advertising phenomenon, like the Kardashians.
“When you see PSG wearing a Jordan jersey! Really? Come on guys, this is a basketball brand! And you’re a football club. Is it just me or is that me?”
Barton explained that even his six-year-old son is not keen on the Brazil international.
Speaking about current footballing culture, he said: “Now everyone wants to support the big teams, those that win. When my son plays, he wants to be the best players, Messi, Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah – but definitely not Neymar or Harry Kane.
“We don’t say that name [Neymar] at home.”
Barton played 25 times with Marseille, where he discovered a new way of playing.
“I learned a new style, a different approach,” he said, considering his time in Ligue 1. “In England, some of the things we see in France just wouldn’t happen. Here, football must be like basketball, an attack here, an attack there. Otherwise, fans get upset.
“In France, there’s more patience. Here, football is a show.”
He currently manages Fleetwood Town, who lie eighth in League One, having lost only one of their opening eight matches of the season.