The Day A Barcelona Legend Was Born or How I Learned to Finally Appreciate Neymar
Neymar is a luxury. Neymar is style over substance. Neymar can’t stop diving. Neymar isn’t as good a player as he thinks he is…on and on it goes.
It’s fair to say that prior to last night’s events I was not the biggest fan of the 25-year-old Brazilian but in my eyes the Nou Camp attacker came of age during the course of Barcelona’s 6-1 thumping of PSG.
Whilst Lionel Messi pretty much vanished from the scene and Luis Suarez proceeded to dive all over the place it was Neymar who galvanised the La Liga side in the face of overwhelming odds.
His manner was superb, his calmness under pressure was exemplary and his efforts on the field of play were nothing less than poetic.
The free-kick he put away was a thing of genuine beauty and the late spot-kick was put away with a minimum of fuss when any mere mortal would succumb to the unrelenting pressure.
Then five minutes into injury time Neymar had possession on the edge of the box and I fully believe that a less mature Neymar would have attempted a blistering long range effort but such is the player’s progression, and growing maturity, of late the former Santos man elected instead to thread a beauty of ball for Sergi Roberto to grab the last gasp sixth to see Barcelona through to the next round.
Some will point to a drop in goals from Neymar in La Liga action this term, but then fail to note that only two players have provided more assists in Spanish top tier action.
Over the course of his three seasons at Barcelona Neymar contributed 72 goals and 34 assists in La Liga and Champions League action alone but it’s his display against PSG is without doubt his single most effective performance of his professional footballing career to date.
Without a doubt Neymar is something of a showboat and he does have a tendency to over-embellish but when he has the end product this is less of an issue.
On Wednesday night he acted as the catalyst, along with Andres Iniesta when he was on the field prior to be subbed, and his stock grew immensely.
After Edinson Cavani had netted on the hour the game should have been done and dusted and a few Barcelona players sunk and whilst other players with more seniority should have rallied the side it was Neymar who took it upon himself to act as commander in chief.
Gone where the theatrics. When fouled Neymar bounced back up, got on with the play, whereas the likes of Suarez and Busquets would look to get opposition players booked.
Even as the game marched towards a seemingly negative result for Barcelona this didn’t phase Neymar and he simply did not give up.
Clearly Neymar has more than proven himself over the course of his three and a half seasons at Barcelona but has, to some extent, been in the shadow of both Messi and Suarez and last night should see the creative talent become a legend in his own right.
As the junior member of Barcelona’s mouthwatering attacking triumvirate Neymar is a key part in the club’s future and though speculation over his future at the Nou Camp, chiefly related to the way in which his 2013 transfer was conducted, one imagines the Sao Paulo based forward is happy to remain at the European superpower for the foreseeable future.