Scott McTominay and Neymar shared some choice words after a Champions League game last season, the Manchester United midfielder has revealed.
Neymar netted a brace as Paris Saint-Germain won 3-1 at Old Trafford in December, but he had grown frustrated with a series of remarks fired his way by McTominay, culminating in a fiery post-match bust-up.
The Scotland international claims Neymar’s “head was gone” at that point, but admits he’s an “amazing player” worthy of “respect”. He told The Athletic: “I do quite like verbal sparring with opponents.
“I had a run-in with Neymar when Paris Saint-Germain came to Old Trafford last season. He ended up grabbing me. You could see his head was gone for a moment in the way he was so aggressive.
“There was a lot of talking going on — words that your mum or dad might not like to hear. But that is part of the enjoyment of football, of competition. He’s trying to beat me, and I’m trying to stop him.
“You saw it with basketball players back in the day — Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, guys like that. They used to talk so much to each other and nobody would get offended, whereas I feel like in this day and age people get upset.
“The whole objective, whenever you’re in battle, is to win. Obviously for us, if that means you have to say certain things to people to take their eye off the game, then fair enough — that is the way it’s going to be.
“That was the way that game was going with Neymar. But he is such an amazing player, he was really good in the second half, and for us, we have to pay him respect.
“He is possibly the most talented player I have played against. Just because you might have a bicker doesn’t mean you don’t have respect.
McTominay also reserved some praise for United teammate Bruno Fernandes, and in particular, his leadership skills. “Bruno Fernandes is always communicating,” he said.
“Sometimes in strong terms! But Bruno is Bruno, he can say what he wants. He is a top personality. A lot of the things we’ve been doing well at United, he’s been firmly at the heart of them. Big credit to him.”