Neymar’s name just will not stay out of the headlines at the moment, be it for good, bad or indifferent reasons. The Brazilian became a hot topic once again on Friday as he was nominated for FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but can the PSG man finally get the better of his rivals?
If you had to choose one day from last seoason which displayed Neymar’s credentials, there is no doubt that everyone would pick the same one: March 8 2017.
That was the day that a Neymar-inspired Barcelona side came back from the dead to overcome the Brazilian’s new employers PSG in one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history.
The Samba star scored twice and laid on an assist as his side did the impossible. When Barca needed a hero, Neymar was the man that came to the fore, not Messi.
It was a watershed moment in Neymar’s career, the day that the doubters were finally silenced once and for all, but also the day that he knew that he had to leave the Camp Nou.
For all Neymar’s work, the one lasting image from that night is of Messi saluting the Barca fans, something that never sat right with the 25-year-old.
But therein lies the problem, excellent player though Neymar undoubtedly is, he is simply not better than Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi at this moment in time.
Neymar enjoyed a good season last time out, scoring 20 and assisting 27 in 45 games in all competitions, but it lacked the zip or sprinkling of stardust that his rivals always bring.
Messi won his fourth European Golden Boot last season, whilst Ronaldo fired his side to a Champions League and La Liga double.
Part of the motivation behind Neymar’s move to PSG was to stand on his own two feet and step out of Messi’s shadow, which would suggest that he will have to wait in his quest to be named the best player in the world.
The former Santos man did have a big impact in securing Barca’s only silverware of the season, scoring once and assisting another of their three goals in the Copa Del Rey final, though that is unlikely to be enough to convince the panel to award him the gong.
Neymar is likely to lose out once again this year, but an impressive start to life in the French capital that has to seem him score five and assist five more in his first six games for PSG, he could challenge next season, if he can cut out the petulant streak that threatens to overshadow his genius.