Neymar is seen as the heir to Lionel Messi’s throne and one former Barcelona player thinks the changing of the guard could happen sooner rather than later.
Luis Garcia thinks Neymar could usurp the Argentine as Barca’s star in as little as three years time.
Messi will be 31-years-old then, Neymar 27. Given a sportsman’s peak years are believed to be 27, Garcia might have a point.
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Yet it’s impossible to imagine Messi not being Barca’s main man. For close to a decade he has been the main attraction at the Camp Nou but, of course, one day his period of dominance will come to an end.
And Garcia reckons Neymar, who finished third in January’s Ballon d’Or voting, could be the man to take the crown.
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“He is happy at Barcelona, I think we can see that,” Garcia said in response to speculation linking Neymar with a move away from Catalonia. “He just signed a new deal until 2021 and he knows that Messi right now is 27, 28,” Garcia told Omnisport, per FourFourTwo.
The former Liverpool man continued: “In a couple, maybe three years, maybe Neymar is going to be the star. I doubt it, but it is possible. He's got all the light on him also, everybody is looking at those three.
“It's not that he is in the shadow of Messi or in the shadow of Luis Suarez, he's got the importance to the team, they know he is a key player for Barcelona.
“I think the supporters and the coach give him that importance into the team, so that's why he is so happy.”
Neymar and Messi take on Real Madrid on Saturday looking to complete the double over their biggest rivals.
Barcelona have a nine-point lead atop La Liga and Garcia thinks the Spanish trophy can be inscribed with Barca’s name if they overcome Madrid at the Camp Nou.
“[Barcelona] are a team that right now has the momentum in the league, so Real have to fight against that and that's a lot of pressure for the players,” he continued. “Real Madrid have got probably some of the best players in the world, they are a quality team.
“But when you have that moment when you have to change the manager and a new manager comes in, the situation is not very good. You don't get the squad that you expected and you get in that circle of doubt and you see your opponent is going and going and they keep on going, imagine the frustration of the players.
“Real have had a few injuries that didn't help them, so right now is a very difficult moment for Real Madrid. For Barcelona, if they get the three points the lead is going to be more like 15 points probably, then the league will be done."