Neymar can overthrow Messi and Ronaldo domination
Neymar has done something no other footballer has ever managed to achieve since 2008. He played Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo bravely at their own game and held his own fort rather incredibly.
Since Fernando Torres seven years ago, at his absolute peak with Liverpool, no other forward has proudly reached the Ballon d’Or top three shortlist.
Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery was as close as it gets but the others put up alongside the sparring Argentine and Portuguese merely had different skill-sets. Manuel Neuer, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, maestros in their own way but merely the inclusion to Messi and Ronaldo’s long-running duopoly.
Ronaldo won the title for the first time in 2008, with Messi being second, and since then the duo have refused to relinquish it. Messi won it an incredible four times in a row, Ronaldo twice more following that.
But Neymar will stand on the podium in Zurich and know this, however the vote goes, he has officially joined the stars. In the Champions League last season the trio finished on 10 goals each, with Barcelona picked the trophy, one of five won in the year 2015.
Neymar played at a consistently fabulous standard through 2015 and even if he should defer to Messi at club level owing to the Argentine’s history, his performances offer things that even his team-mate cannot perhaps muster.
The Brazilian has the flair that his compatriot Ronaldinho carried the banner for excellence at the Nou Camp, the magic touch which can make the crowd go gaga, screech and rise to their feet to break into applause. He can be the first player being outside of the usual suspects to gain it since his compatriot Kaka, in the year 2007.
At just 23 Neymar has usurped Ronaldo, hitting the heights very few believed anyone could be able to achieve. Has he done enough to beat Messi though? Brand loyalty may count against him this time in the vote, but he is just as vital to Barcelona’s formidable attack as anyone else.