With his special night on one of the greatest nights of Barcelona history, Neymar showed he is ready to step into Messi’s shoes.
“As long as there’s a one percent chance, we’ll have 99 percent faith,” Neymar wrote on his Instagram before he led Barcelona to the greatest comeback in Champions League history.
It’s a night that will be talked about for years to come; the world will for a long time live with the memory of how Barcelona beat the odds to overcome a 4-0 deficit to progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
It’s also a night that is set to seal the destiny of Neymar who stepped up to deliver one of his best performances in a Barcelona shirt. For years he has been touted to become the best player in world football after the inevitable end of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s reign.
At just the age of 25, Neymar has now scored 285 goals for club and country. Incredible stats. The jury, however, has always been out on him. He suffered a massive drop in form earlier in the season when he endured a nightmare spell of three months without a goal. His decision making and showboating can often be frustrating to watch.
However, against Paris Saint-Germain, Neymar finally showed why he is the next Barcelona man after Messi.
Much of Luis Enrique’s trouble this season has come from his decision to gradually reduce the influence of Messi. He’s been trying to find another role for the Argentine, bringing him closer to the midfield to allow Neymar more space upfront. This decision has however caused a row between Enrique and Messi but against Paris Saint-Germain, the manager was vindicated.
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Neymar won the second half penalty which Messi converted to score Barcelona’s third but it was in the last 10 minutes of the game that the Brazilian stepped in to have his special night.
He stepped up to curl a free-kick into Paris Saint-Germain’s net in the 88th to spark the comeback after Edinson Cavani had netted an away goal for the visitors. He took over penalty duty when Luis Suarez was fouled in the box to make it 5-1.
It was Neymar again who created Barcelona’s winning goal in added time, showing incredible skills to round up Marco Verratti before dinking an inviting ball which was finished by Sergi Roberto.
On a night when Messi was withdrawn to midfield, Neymar showed up to send his message; “I’m the man now.”
The true measure of the value of any leader is performance; with his special night on one of the greatest nights of Barcelona history, Neymar showed he is ready to step into Messi’s shoes and become the new king.