Barcelona forward Neymar continued his outstanding scoring run this season with a brace against Villarreal on the weekend. The Brazilian international beat the offside trap perfect and showcased real composure to collect a through ball with his weaker left foot and dispatch of his effort at the near post with his second touch. The speed of the move was particularly impressive, and it saw Barca breaking the deadlock on the hour mark.
Neymar’s second goal was a moment of magic to behold. Barcelona broke down the left-hand side through Luis Suarez, who saw his strike-partner in the middle and fed him the ball on the bounce. Neymar collected the pass with his back to goal, lifting the ball over his head to beat the defender in pursuit of him, while spinning anti-clockwise to fool his opponent and to get himself in a position to volley the effort home first time.
Luis Enrique all smiles
The crowd applauded, his manager and coaching staff were all smiles on the bench, and his teammates all celebrated. His goal sealed the contest, and also gave a reminder to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as to who is hot on their heels in the list of top players in Europe. Neymar’s double at the Nou Camp saw him take his tally to 11 in just 10 La Liga games, 13 in 14 games (in all comps). It’s easy to forget that he’s just 23 years of age, and has over a decade of his career still ahead of him.
Emulating Messi and Ronaldo at 23
With a career tally of 137 goals in 240 games, 49% of which have come in a Barcelona shirt, there’s no reason why Neymar shouldn’t be uttered in the same breath as the best players in the world. Ronaldo and Messi were both enjoying prolific seasons goals at Neymar’s current age on a regular basis, and the Brazilian is currently performing on their level. 10 goals in 12 Champions League games last season, coupled with 22 league goals in 33 games while winning the treble with the Catalans is a season Neymar can be proud of. He’s averaging more than a goal a game this campaign at the top level of football, similar to the likes of Messi and Ronaldo, but still he isn’t considered to be on their level.
On the international scale, Neymar’s influence for Brazil is incredible. Captaining the team from a young age, the forward has 46 goals in 67 games at 23. He’s set to break records for goals and appearances for the South American outfit by the time he retires if he can continue going from strength to strength, and such outstanding form for club and country should surely see him among the best in the world.
Where does Neymar rank currently?