PARIS. – When Neymar joined Barcelona in 2013, Johan Cruyff could see trouble ahead.
“I wouldn’t put two captains on the same boat,” he said referring to the Brazilian joining the same team as Lionel Messi. “You have to learn from the past on this one.”
For once, the great man was wrong. Neymar and Messi got on so well that they both paid gushing tributes to each other when they parted company this summer. However, it’s unlikely to be that way when Edinson Cavani inevitably leaves Paris Saint-Germain – Neymar has already stopped following him on Twitter and he passed to him just twice in the weekend game against Lyon. Cavani didn’t pass to Neymar at all, and by all accounts went for him in the dressing room after the game.
There are two differences between PSG in 2017 and Barcelona in 2013: Cavani is not Messi, and the Neymar of four years ago is not the Neymar of now.
Messi can be as self-centred as the next superstar but it’s also true that by genius standards he has a remarkably underdeveloped ego, and Neymar benefited from that. At the end of the 2014-15 season Barcelona were thrashing Cordoba 6-0 and Messi, on a hat-trick, let Neymar take a penalty because the Brazilian hadn’t scored yet. It was typical of his attitude during their four seasons playing together.
Whenever they marmalised weak opposition, Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez would make an effort to ensure all three got on the scoresheet. And in closer, more difficult games when Messi felt that his aim was off and that Neymar was turning everything he touched into gold, then he would step aside and let the Brazilian be the protagonist.
In last season’s comeback against PSG at the Nou Camp it wouldn’t have entered Messi’s head to push Neymar to one side for that late free-kick and even later penalty. Neymar was also very keen to show that he had not come to rip Messi’s crown off of his head – even though succession was the general long-term idea.
On the day of his presentation he said: “I’ve never worried about being the best in the world. The best is already here and he’s Messi, who cannot be compared with anybody. I am one of the luckiest men in the world to be able to play alongside him and learn from him. I have come to help him stay as the best and to win many more trophies.” – Mailonline.