One of the most popular idioms in the world is “actions speak louder than words.” Neymar has seemed to take the phrase to heart because amidst all the controversy surrounding the 23-year-old, he’s just continued by playing some of the best soccer of his Barcelona career.
In his homeland of Brazil, the national team’s captain currently has over over €40 million of his assets frozen because he is accused of failing to pay over €14 million in taxes. Along with that, his former club Santos asked FIFA to ban the forward for six months because they felt his transfer to the reigning treble winners was handled illegally by his father without their consent before they teams began discussing the terms. Neymar Sr. spoke to Brazilian newspaper Sport earlier in this week to defend his son.
“They [Barcelona] are pissed off. It’s all out of place. [Santos] have acted without intelligence, it’s as if the owners of the club have mental diarrhoea. Two years have passed since my son came to Barcelona and now they’re questioning a transaction made by FIFA. Who had the federative rights? Santos. And now? Barcelona. It’s that simple.”
The legal issues have slowed down his contract extension talks with the Catalans and Lionel Messi is out for up to two months due to a knee injury. The pressure was put on Neymar by fans, his team and the media to help carry the load and he’s thrived immensely. In the Blaugrana’s last three matches the 2014-15 leading scorer of the Champions League has contributed to each of the goals scored. Against the back-to-back Europa League champions Sevilla, Barcelona lost 2-1. Neymar scored their only goal and created six chances for his side. The member of the 2011 Copa Libertadores champions played the best game in his early Barcelona career in the following match when his side won 5-2 over Rayo Vallecano. The two-time South American Footballer of the Year scored four goals, the most he’s scored in a game for Barcelona, and added an assist. He received major plaudits following the performance. “Neymar has the capability to be a leader in the absence of Leo [Messi]. He’s one of those players who can make the team feel better,” said midfielder Sergio Busquets.
Manager Luis Enrique also heaped praise on the 2011 FIFA Puskas Award winner. “Neymar is electric. Defences must either foul him and give away a penalty or he will score goals. Since he has started the season has been great, and today he was decisive. In a nutshell, he has been very impressive.”
In yesterday’s 2-0 victory against BATE Borisov, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Dream Team member controlled the game as a playmaker and assisted on both goals scored by midfielder Ivan Rakitic while also creating six more chances. The Croatian international commended his teammate by focusing on the games instead of his issues in Brazil.
“Sometimes, it’s better not to talk too much about it. He keeps speaking out on the pitch. He is playing artfully, and we hope it continues,” said Rakitic to Spanish newspaper El Larguero.
Barcelona is currently tied with hated enemy Real Madrid and Celta Vigo at the top of the league with 18 points each. But goal differential has them in the rear out of three squads. If Neymar can continue to use the controversy as motivation then Messi’s absence won’t hurt the team as much.