Neymar continues to star for Barcelona!
Lionel Messi rejoined Barcelona training session on Monday, where he began running in isolation and doing some ball work, for the first time after tearing a ligament in his left knee on Sept. 26.
However, while the formidable prospect of Barca’s No. 10 returning to scare the historical rivals in front of a global audience is appealing, common sense must prevail. If doctors have the slightest suspicion about Messi’s full fitness, Luis Enrique should prioritize the player’s long-term health first.
Skeptics expected the Blaugranas to struggle shakily without their talisman leader. While the team’s performance standard in the first couple of matches following the injury dropped significantly, obvious progress has been notable since thanks to stalwart individual contributions from striking partners Neymar and Luis Suarez, as well as the return of Iniesta and the team’s defensive improvement.
The pair have netted 20 of Barcelona’s 23 goals in that time, and while any team would be less appealing without Messi, it is Neymar who has gladly stepped up and shouldered the lion’s share of responsibility.
Neymar, a Brazilian, scored two goals apiece in his last two games, first against BATE Borisov to effectively seal Barcelona’s eligibility through the group stage of the Champions League, and after that against Villarreal as the club secured the the top spot of the Spanish league.
The final goal that ensured Villarreal’s 3-0 loss on Sunday was such an absolute masterpiece of timing and instinct that it might have been — well — Messi.
Still only 23 years of age, after spending two years at the club the Brazilian is slowly but reassuringly reaching a level of influence that is already in the similar standard of legendary compatriots like Ronaldinho or Rivaldo.
An undeniable genius with the ball on his feet, almost impossible to contain when dribbling past defenders and generous enough to find open partners, Neymar fully deserves the prime role that Luis Enrique has bestowed upon him as Neymar continues to star in Messi’s absence.