Player Profile - Neymar

Neymar Returns To Revive Brazil

Personal information
Full name: Neymar da Silva Santos Junior
Date of birth: 5 February 1992 
Age: 23
Place of birth: Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil
Height: 1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)
Playing position: Forward

Club information
Current team: Barcelona
Number: 11

Youth career
1999–2003: Portuguesa Santista
2003–2009: Santos

Senior career
2009–2013: Santos 225 Appearances, 136 goals 
2013– Barcelona 107 Appearances, 65 goals  

National team
2009 Brazil U17 3 Appearances, 1 goal
2011 Brazil U20 7 Appearances, 9 goals
2012 Brazil U23 7 Appearances, 4 goals 
2010– Brazil 67 Appearances, 46 goals 

Neymar is back in Brazil's squad for the upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifying matches against Argentina and Peru. He was absent in the first two games because of a four-match ban after being sent off in the Copa America, but is now back in the squad. 

On Club level, Neymar has taken up the mantle in Lionel Messi’s absence due to injury with some splendid performances, and Barca are currently tied on points with La Liga leaders Real Madrid. There was a time when Neymar was viewed as an impressive youngster with plenty of room to stretch into as he continued to improve. Neymar's efforts helped secure Barcelona a stunning treble; clearly both he and Luis Suarez offered the team a lot, forming a front line that eviscerated almost every defence put before it. But an overall valuation was tough to reach. Messi's injury, while clearly not a good thing for Barcelona, does at least allow us to see Neymar shine alone. Brazilian striker Neymar said he is in the form of his life after netting twice as Barcelona eased past Bate Borisov 3-0 in the Champions League last Wednesday. Neymar also set up Barca’s other goal on the night for Suarez as the defending champions moved to within a point of sealing their place in the last 16. With a massive 16 goals in 26 games, Neymar is delivering the goods in the Champions League. He is now Barça’s sixth highest goalscorer ever in the competition after his brace against BATE Borisov edged him above fellow Brazilian Ronaldinho in the ranking. ‘El Gaucho’ got 14 goals in his 35 Champions League games for the club, while Neymar has only needed 26 outings to surpass that tally. His goals against the Belarusians also take him ahead of Pedro Rodriguez and Hristo Stoichkov, who got 15 goals in 61 and 30 matches respectively. The skilful forward is also currently top of the La Liga goalscoring charts with an impressive nine goals after 11 matches; and if that form continues for the Catalan gianst, Neymar could surely be a contender for the Ballon d'Or. 

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The Brazilian may well have surprised a few people with his performances for Barcelona during the last campaign. Indeed, 2014/15 could certainly be said to be Neymar's breakout year in Blaugrana. Alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, the Brazilian was one of the main components of Barca's second treble-winning season. At just 23 years of age, the wunderkind has the world at his extremely talented feet. Playing for Barcelona brings a certain amount of pressure and, with it, responsibility. Neymar had responsibility at Santos where he was so often the talisman, but Barca is a different ball park altogether. Professional at all times, off of the pitch just as much as on it. But it's clear to see that as of this moment, Neymar feels completely at ease with it all and is taking everything in his stride. His decision-making has been first class, and, more often than not, Neymar has made the right decisions during games, often to win a particular match. At his best, when running directly at defences, he knows that opponents run a huge risk by trying to bring him down. Like the best bullfighters from the region in the past, he will tempt and tease them with the ball, and then with a matadorial body swerve, he is gone. Ole! The scholar will eventually become the teacher, and Neymar has no better example to follow than Messi. Lest we forget that if 27 years of age is still considered the marker for a football player's "peak," then the Brazilian still has four more years of learning and development before reaching that point. Frightening when put into context. Barca have a rich history of Brazilian talent peppering their ranks, but Neymar could theoretically trump them all if his current trajectory continues. His role in the team may change or develop and his importance increases. But as he's shown already, he is more than ready for the challenges that lie ahead. 

With the international break upon us, Neymar will now gear up to take on a Messi-less Argentina. Brazil boss Dunga is under heavy pressure from fans after a 2-0 loss against Chile in Santiago and an unconvincing 3-1 victory against Venezuela in Brazil's first two qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup. The Barcelona attacker has repeatedly proved the difference-maker for his country and he’s return could not be more timely.