Copa America 2021 Players in Focus: Neymar Jr. and what does he bring to the table for the Selecao
The embodiment of Happiness, Cheekiness and Flair. When you hear the name Neymar, you think of rainbow flicks, nutmegs and stepovers. Neymar has a Magician’s hat, out of which he pulls the most outlandish tricks and flicks ever seen on a football ground. Taunting his opponents and beating them at will, Neymar will forever be known as one of the most talented footballers the world has ever seen! A true progeny of the Brazilian Joga Bonito!!
“He’s the heir to the throne of Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi.” – – Rio Ferdinand
A strong statement made by the former Manchester United centre-back may not have panned out to be true. Messi and Ronaldo are still bossing football despite being in their thirties. Neymar, for some seasons now have not even made a proper shout for the throne they might eventually leave behind. In fact, his teammate, the young Kylian Mbappe is the new favourite to take the crown.
Statistical measures and team contributions have still been decent for the prolific Brazilian. However, a big share of his headlines has been his on-field antics and ludicrous behaviour off it. The world loves watching Neymar but equally hates his fragilities.
THE WHOLE TRUTH
Neymar came to Barcelona after an impressive haul in Brazil’s Santos football club. In his four seasons at Barcelona, the forward scored 105 goals across 185 matches. Along with 59 assists, Neymar became the most influential player at the Club barring the obvious Lionel Messi. He formed a formidable Trio along with Messi and Suarez, that won almost every trophy there is possible including the Treble.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 24, 2017
“The 18-year-old is a magnificent prospect. He is sleek and skilful, able to beat the defender on either side, capable of combining well, and full of tricks he can put to productive use in and around the penalty area.” —South American football journalist Tim Vickery on Neymar in 2010.
It wasn’t just goal-scoring prowess or the ability to string passes that made Neymar stand out. It was rather his Brazilian flair and his penchant to entertain. Reminiscent of the legendary Ronaldinho before him, Neymar had unique magic about him. Magic that his early years in futsal embodied onto him. This magic was soon recognised by the people at the helm of PSG, resulting in a world-record transfer for the young forward.
Neymar has had a rocky career at PSG, but now looked settled. He also seems to have matured as a person although the player in him hasn’t changed. Countless injuries and infinite criticism have been a torment for the Brazilian captain throughout his career. Nonetheless, his statistics have still been on the radar.
— FootTheBall (@FootTheBall) May 8, 2021
To be told the truth, defining Neymar by his statistics is an injustice to the player’s ability. At the end of the day, the fans are there to watch a performance and not just for the result. There aren’t many players in the world that can entertain like Neymar. With his flicks and tricks, it is an absolute joy to watch him play. There’s sure to be nutmegs or an ankle breaker when the Brazilian daunts the wing.
It’s incredible what Neymar can do with the ball. There are only a few players capable of dribbling the ball without ever losing possession and almost none who can do it as Neymar does. He taunts his opponents inviting them to pinch the ball off him, only to disrespect them when they try. Defenders absolutely hate him, there’s nothing they can do when he’s on the ball. Hence, it’s no surprise he gets fouled often.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) May 1, 2021
Neymar usually plays on the left-wing and drifts inwards with the ball beating opponents with skill and pace. He is what can be described as a playmaking winger. His vision to find teammates and impeccable ability to pinpoint passes is phenomenal. Combine that with a goal-scoring prowess and we get an almost unstoppable trickster.
Neymar made 48 key passes this season and a total of four assists. More than sixty per cent of his passes were forward passes or passes into the middle of the field. Having made fifty shots, he has found the net eight times. All this in just sixteen matches in Ligue 1.
Neymar: No player has made more successful final third passes in a Ligue 1 match this season than @neymarjr vs Reims (36)
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) September 27, 2018
In the Champions League this season, he netted six times and created two assists in just nine appearances. His performances were even more commendable. Every team he played against had to be on their toes when the winger had the ball in his feet. He tore apart the Bayern Munich defence and toyed with their players in the Champions League. Against Man City, he was the most incisive player and was unlucky not to score.
— Neymar Jr (@neymarjr) April 13, 2021
HOW BRAZIL BENEFITS
Well, adding a world-class player with unique ball-playing abilities does increase your chances to win matches exponentially. Just ask PSG or Barcelona, there have been times when Neymar single handily decided matches. Every big-name Brazilian’s have at least once backed Neymar to be a potential Ballon d’Or winner. While that may not be true, he did and still does possess the potential to do so.
“It’s about time for Neymar to take his place as the best in the world.” Ronaldo.
Neymar is Brazil’s second top-scorer with 64 goals in 103 matches, only behind Pele who has 77. Neymar has an Olympic gold with Brazil and has won the FIFA Confederations Cup. However, Neymar was not part of the Copa America triumph in 2019 as he did not make it to the squad due to injury.
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) July 2, 2018
Some say the absence of the “superstar” was a blessing in disguise as Brazil lifted the trophy. Neymar and his antics might cause a distraction for any side he plays and sometimes even undermines his ability on the grass. Although it is clear that Neymar can influence matches for the better, it has also been that he can become a liability.
Neymar is undoubtedly one of the most gifted people on the planet. Few have his ability and even fewer has his passion for entertainment. Will Neymar pull up his socks and live up to the name he has developed or will Brazil succumb with him on the field? We hope, Neymar makes the headlines for his performances this summer!