Things haven’t gone to plan for Neymar this season. He departed Barcelona with the intent of stepping out of Messi and Ronaldo’s shadow by winning the Champions League with PSG. Instead, his side crashed out in the round of 16 thanks to three goals over two legs from Ronaldo, while Barcelona have gone from strength to strength under Ernesto Valverde without the talented Brazilian.
To make matters worse, an injury following the Champions League first leg ruled the 26-year-old out for the rest of the season, meaning he hasn’t competed for even individual honors such as the European Golden Shoe, something he had a realistic chance of winning judging by his statistics for PSG.
It’s not alll doom and gloom, howeve., Neymar should be back for the World Cup in Russia and will be very confident of outshining Messi and Ronaldo on the international stage. Neymar has been fantastic for his country, carrying them to a World Cup quarterfinal. Times have changed and one could argue Brazil are challengers with or without Neymar, with new manager Tite replacing the old guard with some seriously talented youngsters such as Gabriel Jesus.
The fact Neymar isn’t as crucial to his country as he was four years ago might seem to reflect poorly on him as a player. On the contrary, it’s more of a reflection of how much Brazil have improved and if Neymar can find even half his usual form for the national team, then Brazil are comfortably in with a chance of winning a sixth World Cup.
Honorable mentions: Gabriel Jesus, Marcelo