Time for Neymar to step out of the Messi Shadow
After losing a match to Manchester City in the Champions League, Barcelona has been underperforming, and somebody on the team needs to make up for this. Neymar is one player who can look to be even more impactful in order to inspire his teammates because, while Barcelona is famous for its attacking trident of Lionel Messi, Luís Suárez, and Neymar, people think of Messi when they think of Barcelona.
One of the things that makes Neymar a world-class player is his ability to play in and for a team. While Neymar is arguably the most technically-skilled player in the world, even more so than the untouchable Lionel Messi, Neymar knows how to play within a team framework and improve his teammates. The same cannot really be said of Cristiano Ronaldo.
To be fair to Neymar, he doesn’t really defer too much to Messi, but he should view himself as good or better than Messi. Messi himself would play as good or better with a more assertive Neymar, so Neymar’s looking to dominate games more wouldn’t impede Messi from continuing to play more or less the same.
Messi loves to cut in from the right wing, and Neymar has been really impressive when he’s played more centrally, even if playing out left is where he has normally played. Messi’s game is all about his left foot, and Neymar is a truly two-footed player, who uses his weaker left foot to dribble, pass, and shoot.
Andrés Iniesta is injured, and this presents an opportunity for Neymar to claim the role as Barcelona’s primary playmaker. Let Messi play out to the right and continue to cut inside onto his left foot; this doesn’t stop Neymar from playing centrally behind Luís Suárez and Messi.
In a soccer world dominated by Messi and Ronaldo, the fact that Neymar possesses a better skill-set than both goes under the radar. Neymar could be said to be a combination of a Number 10 player and a Number 11, and this makes his game extremely versatile where he can focus on playmaker or focus on playing off of a center forward. If an opponent looks to shut down Neymar’s scoring, then he can focus on setting up his teammates to score.
Maybe it would be better for Neymar to play for a different team, but even without leaving Barcelona, there is room for Neymar to boss games more than he does. Neymar can beat virtually any opponent – or crowds of opponents- off the dribble, and Neymar can destroy defenses with his passing as well. As a goal-scorer Neymar is prolific, and he scores with both feet and his head.
As Barcelona’s play features Messi, Suárez, and Neymar combining together, any improvement in Neymar’s play and work-rate just results in the other two playing better as well, but Neymar needs to make more of an effort to no longer just be Messi’s sidekick because Neymar is too good to accept this role.
Neymar is an electrifying player who is arguably the world’s most skilled player and the world’s best 1v1 dribbling because of his arsenal of tricks and fakes, and he should look to lead Barcelona just as he leads Brazil.