Julio Gomes has a blog for the Brazilian site, UOL Esporte, where he recently wrote the following article about Neymar:
“Neymar estreia “à la Messi”, armando jogo e mais longe do gol”
Translation: Neymar debuts in a Messi role, playmaking and farther from goal
Here is the link for the article, and the translation from Brazilian Portuguese is below:
“Neymar had a good debut in a Paris Saint-Germain jersey. He scored the third goal in the 3-0 victory over tiny Guingamp, off a pass from Cavani – the Uruguayan had scored the second, off the first assist of Neymar for PSG. The floodgates (lit. can) had been opened on Guingamp’s pathetic own goal at the start of the second half.
A goal, an assist, a nutmeg, a good cross that Marquinhos headed into the crossbar. Nothing to complain about.
I am a voice out of order from the majority in the analysis of the soccer of Neymar. The guy is a baller, of this there is no doubt. But, from my point of view, his principal quality is finishing.
With this, I don’t mean that he isn’t a good dribbler or that he doesn’t know how to be the playmaker. I’m just saying that the best version of Neymar is that in which he plays really close to goal, receiving clean balls and with few adversaries in front of him. Preferably, at speed. He has a finishing rate on the level of Cristiano Ronaldo and other finishers around the world.
In four seasons at Barcelona, Neymar scored 88 goals from open play. 40 of those with just one touch on the ball, 39 with a controlling touch and finish and only 9 where he created his own goal.
In his debut, the goal came with one touch on the ball. It’s logical that that proportion is going to change at PSG. He played as a 10. The change of a jersey number never was too loyal to a tactical change. He played Messi’s position at various times with Barcelona, receiving balls in the middle of various adversaries (as the photo below shows). It’s fine. The comparisons will become even easier.
Last season, the first one of coach Unai Emery, Paris almost always played with two players quite wide – including Draexler, Di Maria, and Lucas. This Sunday, Neymar and Di Maria played centrally, opening up the channels for the outside backs. It’s just that it practically ripped the game away from the Italian Verratti, who was originally the principal playmaker of the team.
Daniel Alves had few surges down the right side, with time he will acquire more linkup with the Argentinean. Kurzawa advanced a lot into the space that would have been Neymar’s down the left. From him came the cross that later ended up as a goal for Neymar.
That wasn’t what happened in his debut. He was an attacking midfielder in fact, a playmaker, the principal builder of all the plays. He was more an Isco or Rodriguinho or an Inesta than a Neymar. He was more Verratti than Verratti. This didn’t work out that well on the Seleção in a few moments of slim pickin’s pre-Tite,
He occupied a part of the field where there was more people, more congestion. And he stayed too far from goal.
In the first half, PSG, despite having the ball all the time, created very few chances of real danger. In the second half, they won a present from Ikoko, one of the most bizarre own goals that everyone had seen in our lives.
And then, yes, the game changed. It became easy. PSG came to have more openings. On one occasion, in a counter attack, Neymar played a marvelous pass for Cavani to score a second goal. His first assist with the new jersey.
The number of assists will inevitably increase. But it’s good to jump back to the fact that Neymar already provided many assists at Barcelona. This didn’t necessarily happen by having the position of playmaker.
Honestly, I don’t think that he’ll keep this position, and it’s fair that the coach tries it in a game against a weak adversary like Guingamp.
In the nick of time, I believe that Emery is going to prefer Neymar playing more to the left, closer to goal, where he is much more productive.
If the plan for leaving Barcelona and going to PSG was to be the protagonist and play like Messi, it seems that he will really be in his position. He’s going to be lacking… playing like Messi.”