When Neymar joined Barcelona he was touted as one of the most promising players in the world, but many expected him to find the shadow of Lionel Messi too big to overcome.
However, for the past year the MSN - as journalists and fanatics call the Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar - partnership has broken every record there is to break. Even in the absence of the Argentinian, the latterly mentioned has raised his game even more.
The composure that the Brazilian shows on the field is way beyond his 23 years. Scoring 16 goals in 20 games so far this season, as Barcelona have continued to dominate both domestically and internationally. With fans around the globe holding Luis Enrique’s team in the same regard as Pep Guardiola’s magnificent 2009-11 class.
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Central to all of the praise is Neymar. A player who came with a reputation of being one of the best young talents in the world, he has avoided the possibility of letting his new fame go to his head - which can happen with many young players.
Neymar and Messi have put their egos to one side and instead created a friendly relationship both on and off the field that allows them to thrive. During the clash with Roma two weeks ago, this relationship was more evident than ever when the Argentine allowed the Brazilian to take a penalty - giving up the chance to complete his hat-trick for his goal-less partner in crime.
When the penalty was missed and Adriano proceeded to score, Messi’s first reaction was to hug Neymar instead of running to the scorer and celebrate with the rest of their teammates. His willingness to let Neymar kick the penalty shows how highly regarded the Brazilian is within the team.
If Neymar were to win the Ballon d'Or, he would be the first player since 2007 that isn't Messi or Ronaldo to win the award. Bringing a much-needed change to the world of soccer, in times when corruption has been at the very core.
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