Neymar: Just how good is the PSG star at 27 and what has he got left to prove?

Neymar: Just how good is the PSG star at 27 and what has he got left to prove?

SOME will consider the comparison a sacrilege. But it came to me long ago, and was in my mind back in 2012 watching him at Old Trafford playing for

How John of God cult’s sick leader ran sex slave farms where young girls were held captive to produce babies like real life Handmaid’s Tale
Ten feared dead in fire at Brazilian giants Flamengo’s youth team training centre
Youth players among 10 killed in fire at Rio de Janeiro's Flamengo football club


SOME will consider the comparison a sacrilege.

But it came to me long ago, and was in my mind back in 2012 watching him at Old Trafford playing for Brazil’s Olympic team. There is something of George Best in Neymar.

Neymar
How good is Neymar?
EPA

It is in the extraordinary flexibility of the ankles, permitting a balance which enables a range of movements at pace.

It is in the velocity of thought; opponents seem to be operating in slow motion in comparison.

Plus, of course, the technical ability to improvise at high speed, to do things that many other world class players could not even dream about.

But Neymar, of course, will not be showing off his Best-like tricks at Old Trafford tonight.

Neymar
Neymar boasts pace and skills that leave defenders standing still at times
Reuters
George Best
His style is comparable to George Best
Getty – Contributor


A fractured metatarsal rules him out of the Paris Saint Germain side that come to Manchester for the first leg of their Champions League clash.

PSG are hoping that he might be back in time for the quarter finals. That, of course, depends on his team-mates overcoming a resurgent United.

Their failure would be especially frustrating for Neymar. Leaving Barcelona to join PSG was a gamble.

And with no opportunity to shine in the knock out stages of the Champions League, an early PSG elimination would effectively mean that Neymar’s first two years in France have been wasted.

Neymar
But Neymar will be missing in action against Man United after suffering a fractured metatarsal
AP:Associated Press
Neymar
Neymar is rightly judged by his performances in tournaments when it counts
AP:Associated Press

The depth of his new club’s financial resources have inevitably turned the domestic championship into a cakewalk.

Those same resources mean that PSG fully expect to reach the knock out stages of the Champions League.


DEVIL’S DELIGHT Manchester United Vs PSG Wags: Meet the stunning ladies decorating the arms of stars from two of Europe’s biggest clubs


This, then, is when the real stuff begins. As a player, as a leader of the pack in an environment he chose, Neymar at PSG was always going to be judged by his performances at the business end of the Champions League.

Last year, though, he only had 90 minutes to show his stuff – and put in a poor display in the first leg against Real Madrid.

Neymar
But Neymar hasn’t quite had the opportunity to shine for PSG in the latter stages of the Champions League
Reuters
Neymar
In truth, Neymar has been cursed by injury
PA:Press Association

By the return game he was out of action, breaking down with a metatarsal injury. And the curse has struck once more.

Last year’s injury also cut back on his preparation time for Russia 2018 – and his previous World Cup campaign also ended in injury heartbreak.

All of this has sparked a debate – how many of his injury problems are brought on by his style of play?

This is eclipsed, though, by a bigger discussion; just how good is Neymar? How much is hype and how much is substance?

Neymar
The question can be asked that how many of Neymar’s injuries are brought on by his style of play
Reuters

It is fascinating that these questions still hover over the career of a player who last week celebrated his 27th birthday.

By that landmark George Best was well into his downward slide and had little future in front of him at Manchester United.

And to use a more contemporary example, closer to Neymar’s heart, by the age of 27 Ronaldinho had already conquered the world, left a legacy of memories for which he is still revered and had effectively given up on meeting the demands necessary to keep playing at the highest level.

Neymar, meanwhile, still has plenty to prove.

Neymar
Neymar recently celebrated his 27th birthday
Splash News

It is hard to think of him as a 27 year old. There is something of the perpetual adolescent about Neymar – who, incidentally, continues to style himself as Neymar Junior.

The good news is that the comparisons with Best and Ronaldinho only go so far. Neymar may well enjoy all the celebrity trappings.

But as yet there are no signs of him going off the rails like Best, or of having fallen out of love with the rigours of the professional game a la Ronaldinho.

He still appears to love what he does, and the reports of those who play and train with him are usually positive.

Neymar
Neymar enjoys the trappings of fame, as well as high-profile girlfriends
AP:Associated Press
Neymar
However, Neymar doesn’t let his lifestyle off the pitch distract him from his love of the game
AP:Associated Press
Neymar
And with time still on his side, Neymar can still prove his worth and cement his name as a great in the game
The Mega Agency


Time is still on his side. Providing his body can stand the strain, he still has some seven years, and two World Cups, to prove himself at the highest level.

And should PSG manage to rise to the occasion without him and get through to the quarter finals of the Champions League, there may be just a crumb of comfort for United fans.

If Neymar can get fit in time, then something of the spirit of George Best will be present in the closing stages of the world’s premier club competition – and we all might get a little closer to being able to come up with an answer to one of football’s most fascinating questions; just how good is Neymar?

//players.brightcove.net/5067014667001/default_default/index.min.js



COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 0
DISQUS: 0