Now this is the Neymar we've all been waiting for.
People have expected greatness from Neymar almost since he laced up his first pair of boots. The earliest converts to the "Neymar is Next" religion were Santos's youth coaches, who watched a teenaged, buzz-cutted waif rip through academy defenses with preternatural flair. From there, the cult spread like wildfire across the whole country, when the kid with a little more hair though just as slight of a build began wrecking grown men. The entire world was eventually engulfed via Youtube clips and rumors. The expectations for Neymar couldn't have been any larger or seemed more imminent. And the young Brazilian's clearly on his way to realizing every one of them.
His recent performances for club and country bear that out. Watch the video above, from today's friendly against Japan, and see the new Brazil captain float past defenders at will, manipulate the ball with his toes and feet better than most could with their fingers and hands, and generally do whatever he wants en route to scoring four times. Then remember the eight goals he's scored in six starts and two substitute appearances for Barcelona this season, and realize that we're on the precipice of his talent curve that's about to go FOOM sooner rather than later.
Then, lest you think he's some Johnny-come-lately finally living up to his potential after years of unearned hype, remember that this kid is only 22 years old and is already Brazil's fifth all-time leading scorer with 40 goals. The kid is going places.