Last year, thanks to his 39 goals in all competitions with Barcelona, his growing physical presence complementing his already lethal dribbling ability, his ever-increasing creative talents, and the hive mind that has developed between him, Lionel Messi, and Luis Suárez, we finally reached the prophesied “One day” foretold in the old adage “One day, Neymar is going to be one of the best players in the world.” Rather than stopping there, Neymar has continued his ascent to the very upper echelon of the sport, getting even better and better.
In part because of Messi’s two-month injury absence, and in part because his talent is so undeniable at this point, Neymar has taken on an even greater role in all facets of Barcelona’s play this year. He is the one the team looks to to score the goals (and he’s provided them, getting 12 in 11 matches, the most in La Liga), to create them (which he has, averaging 3.9 key passes per game and laying on four assists, the first and second-most in the league, respectively), and to make something happen when they are down and out.
Check out these highlights, showing Neymar’s contributions to the team outside the typical goals and assists compilations:
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This kid—he’s only 23!—is really Doing It this season.
For so long, there has been a very clear distinction between the two best players in the world—Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo—and the group of next-best stars beneath them. Players like Sergio Agüero, Arjen Robben, Mesut Özil, Robert Lewandowski, Eden Hazard, etc. are unquestionably great yet still undeniably a ways away from those top two.
Neymar is the first player we’ve seen who has reached that second tier and pushed even higher. His game is so comprehensive, so dominant already, and still offers so much room for growth that he’s already reaching heights previously reserved for the two Gods of the game. He hasn’t stopped yet, and there’s no reason to think he will any time soon.
Video by @Navidjaan
Photo via Getty