We all know Neymar is an amazing football player, but is he one of the greats?
Is he really good enough to be mentioned as one of the best next to Messi and Ronaldo?
Another season is on the books and the highest paid player in history once again failed to deliver the decisive blow when it mattered the most for his squad – PSG lost to Bayern in the Champions League final last Sunday and their star player had one of his worst performances of the season.
The Brazilian striker failed to register a key pass and completed only four dribbles, all in areas that didn’t concern Bayern. After his great performances against Atalanta and Leipzig it was expected that the 28-year old would finally show his tremendous talent on the biggest stage but he was stopped in his tracks by Joshua Kimmich and co. leaving his PSG squad without the trophy they spent a small fortune chasing.
And this wasn’t the first time Neymar didn’t meet the expectations.
After four seasons with Barcelona and winning his only Champions league trophy, Neymar wanted to get out of a team built around Lionel Messi, and show everyone that he is ready to lead a squad to the glory on his own.
He moved to PSG for a record €222 million and showed his magic in the French Ligue 1. He scored 47 goals in 52 matches which seem impressive but the fans from the French capital have seen top performances domestically before, notably from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani. The only way Neymar could meet the expectations and make the investment of the Qatari owners worthwhile was by bringing the Champions League trophy, something he hasn’t managed to do in the past three seasons.
In his first season with the PSG, they were eliminated in the round of 16 by Real Madrid. He didn’t score on Santiago Bernabeu and he didn’t play in the return match due to an injury. He was solid in the group stage the following year, but missed the clash against Manchester United in the first elimination round due to leg pain.
The argument that he was not made for big games carries even more weight when his performance for Brazilian national team is taken into consideration. As is the case for his club when he is the main-man against Granada or Bilbao, Bordeaux or Montpellier, so it is the case in the national team against Ecuador or Bolivia, but when his whole nation expects the glory, he has not been able to perform. At the 2014 World Cup, he played well only in the group, after which he got injured. Two years ago, he was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Belgium.
At the Copa America in 2011, Neymar and Brazil were stopped in the quarterfinals against Paraguay and the same happened four years later. To make the paradox bigger, Brazil became the champion of South America last summer, but Neymar didn’t even participate in the competition due to a ligament damage injury.
Unlike his fellow countrymen Pele or Ronaldo, who brought joy to Brazil with goals in the World Cup finals or the greatest players in his time, Messi and Ronaldo who always deliver, Neymar still hasn’t got even close to them and the only way to do so is to score when it really matters.