Mocking It: Did PSG Take ‘Trash Talk’ Too Far With Erling Håland?

Mocking It: Did PSG Take ‘Trash Talk’ Too Far With Erling Håland?

The Parc des Princes may have been empty last night, but there was still plenty of smoke.

March 12th 2020

Despite the entire stadium being empty, PSG's bagsman brotherhood of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé rolled into the Parc Des Princes looking ready to entertain the world last night.

Bopping in with a Beats Pill on blast and dancing into the home changing room in nonchalant fashion, the pair looked more like they were readying up for a big night out on the tiles in Paris, rather than trying to taking PSG into the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time together.

The pair were on complete smoke; from the start to (well after) the finish. After bagging the game’s opening goal and sparking wild celebrations with his teammates out on the pitch, Neymar would then indicate who he and his teammates were really taking aim at with their outward show of braggadocio, when he posed with his hands together and copied Erling Håland’s “Zen” celebration.

What followed when PSG finally secured the dub to send Dortmund packing was even more blatant shithousery. Kylian Mbappé would join in the act with his fellow forward, encouraging his jubilant team-mates to strike the same pose on pitch after the final whistle blew as well as in the changing room for an Instagram live video, in a futher, blatant taunt of the Norwegian teenager.

Neymar would double down on mocking it even further after this, posting “Paris is our city, not yours” on Instagram while in Håland’s now-infamous pose. 24 hours earlier, Håland had reportedly stated the French capital “belonged to him” on a Snapchat post, sparking a hugely mixed response to their actions on social media, with some questioning why a star-studded squad and world-renowned players felt the need to belittle the new kid on the scene to such an extent.

It’s clear that Håland had absolutely rattled the mega-egos at PSG with his goals and posts prior to the game, with the players reaction exemplifying just how rent free the Leeds-born baller was living in each of their heads. This feeling was shared by the BVB’s official Twitter account, who actually tweeted out “Rent Free” themselves in response to PSG’s gloating, before they quickly deleted the original post.

But while the likes of Gary Lineker cited their “lack of class”, a lot of people also argued that this “trash talking” between the game’s new star players is actually an entertaining brand of shithousing that football needs more of.

While we’re not trying to go on some mad Piers Morgan-like anti-snowflake agenda, tribalism – one of the key essences of why we all love football – can be argued to have waned in recent years. Most modern professionals share huge mutual respect, with Instagram ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ being a very visible window into how friendly players are with eachother. As a result, PSG using their post-game celebrations to clap back at a rival club adds a new layer of intrigue to things…whether you agree with it or not.

For one night only, football moved a step closer to what we’ve seen for years in boxing, UFC and even NBA. Personal rivalries are points of real interest and engagement in so many other sports, and it’s something that’s traditionally been missing from the Beautiful Game. Messi and Ronaldo might have been the two stand-out players for an entire generation – but did we ever really feel there was any tension when they were on a pitch? Not really.

By picking on a 19-year-old kid who just suffered his first Champions League elimination, Neymar and Mbappé might have broadcast their fragile egos to the world – and perhaps indicated that they don’t have the mentality required to go all the way – but it’s added an interesting subplot in the race to be global football’s new young king. The next GOAT will have grown up in the social media age and they’ll be more affected – and triggered – by what they see online.

Håland – being the laboratory-produced hitman that he is, will remember this moment for as long as he plays the game. In all likelihood, Håland will meet PSG again soon in his fledging career as a gunman, with decades of goals ahead of him in the game.

Should he meet last night’s opponents once more, and inevitably bag another goal against them, you’d be hard placed to find one person that wouldn’t love to see him adopt his “Zen” position once again while accompanied with a chorus of boos and plenty of pissed off Parisians.