Neymar, Leading Role or Supporting Actor?

Fill a room with Hollywood’s biggest, brightest and best writers and they’d struggle to come up with a better fairytale script for Neymar than the actual chain of events that took place at the Olympics this summer.

Entering the tournament with the expectations of 200 million Brazilians on his shoulders, Neymar struggled in the two opening games of the Olympics as his nation staggered to two goalless matches against Iraq and South Africa.

The Brazilian public was less than happy with his performance as Brazil had to beat Denmark in their final game. Neymar didn’t disappoint fans as he led Brazil to victory on that occasion.

Up next were Colombia in the quarters and Honduras in the semis, with the former Santos hero putting on a show for the eager fans and breezed through both matches.

The final was played at the Maracana against Germany. Sound familiar? Just two years ago, there came the infamous 7-1 demolition of Brazil by the Germans in the World Cup semi, a game in which Neymar didn’t feature.

Drawing the match one each with Neymar scoring for his country, the game went to penalties, and after Nils Petersen’s miss, it gave the Golden Boy a chance at revenge.

The nation held its breath as the Barcelona winger stepped up, and rejoiced as he coolly slotted home.

After a much-deserved rest, the Olympic Gold Medallist will return to the most familiar surroundings of Barcelona.

Returning to play second fiddle to Leo Messi and arguably to Luis Suarez, it’s a whole different ball game to the pressure put on him during national team duty.

Despite scoring 70 goals and assisting a further 27 since Suarez’s arrival two seasons ago, Messi and the Uruguayan have received the majority of the plaudits.

As a result of Luis Suarez’s tumultuous past, Neymar was able to capture the 3rd place in the Balon D’Or behind the currently immovable Messi and Ronaldo.

But is the Suarez and Messi’s partnership holding the Brazilian back? By far the youngest of the three, aged 24 in comparison to Messi and Suarez who are both 29, Neymar will be hoping to replicate their goal-scoring exploits of the past two seasons.

Neymar’s goal-scoring record for Brazil is more impressive, with 46 in 70 games than his Barca record since Suarez joined, scoring 70 in 96 games.

Despite having better goals to game ratio at Barca, Neymar’s goals have been pivotal for Brazil. For example, all of his Olympic goals came in the knockout stages of the tournament.

Neymar will be aiming to score as many important goals at the Camp Nou as he does for Brazil in the coming season and help his side recapture the Champions League.

As it stands, Neymar isn’t being held back by the sheer brilliance of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, but is in fact learning and growing by playing with players of their quality on a daily basis.

However, the longer Neymar isn’t the key man at the club like he is in Brazil, the more the likely he may be tempted by the lure and prestige of Real Madrid or the money of the Premier League. One thing is for sure; Neymar will continue to have a blockbuster career.


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