Barcelona Transfer Rumours: Picking a Starting XI to Include Neymar

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIApril 12, 2012

Barcelona Transfer Rumours: Picking a Starting XI to Include Neymar

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    Neymar is without doubt the hottest young prospect in world football.

    It seems that with every passing day, a new report circulates about the Brazilian. His name is everywhere—from Pele to the Guardian newspaper—he simply can't get out of the news.

    And perhaps the most discussed topic is about a potential move to Spanish giants Barcelona, where Neymar would link up with fellow superstar Lionel Messi, according to

    The 20-year-old is simply too good for the Brazilian league and deserves his time under the lights of football's brightest stage; Barcelona are without doubt the front-runners to securing his signature.

    If he does come to Camp Nou, he'll obviously make an impact—with many speculating that his move to the Barcelona could turn them into a dynasty of footballing greatness.

    Where will he fit in an already star-studded side?

    Here's the likely starting side should the mohawked Brazilian make a move to Barcelona.

GK: Victor Valdes

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    Age: 30

    Nationality: Spanish

    Victor Valdes has been solid all year for Barcelona—chalking up 24 clean sheets for the Spanish giants this year.

    And short of Neymar turning out to be the world's greatest keeper, Valdes will continue to don the gloves for several years to come.

LB: Carles Puyol

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    Age: 33

    Nationality: Spanish

    The defender has been a regular for Barcelona this season and will continue to find himself in their back four for many more matches to come if he continues his run of solid form.

    Carles Puyol also has four goals to his name this year throughout the Copa del Rey and La Liga tournaments.

    Puyol currently averages over 40 passes per game for Barcelona this season—completing at more than a 90 percent success rate.

    His mistake-free play also makes him a competent part of this back line, with just 22 turnovers to his name this season.

LCB: Gerard Pique

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    Age: 25

    Nationality: Spanish

    Across the back is Gerard Pique—another regular in this Barcelona outfit.

    He has been much more of a threat in the UEFA Champions League than he has been in La Liga this season, with passing of a much higher standard and completion rate.

RCB: Javier Mascherano

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    Age: 27

    Nationality: Argentinian

    Javier Mascherano has been one of the players of the year for Barcelona, holding together an already strong back four.

    He leads the team in both interceptions and successful tackles this season, and together with his 89 percent completion rate on his passes, is one of the toughest defenders in the league.

RB: Dani Alves

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    Age: 28

    Nationality: Brazilian

    Dani Alves has been a critical part of Barcelona this year—particularly with his attacking skills.

    The right side has been a focal point of their attack this season, shown through the four goals and 13 assists that Alves has to his name this year.

    Also ranked in the top four in key passes per game and overall passes, the Brazilian's complete footballing skills make him a crucial part of Barcelona's attack and defense.

LM: Francesc Fabregas

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    Age: 24

    Nationality: Spanish

    A critical part of the Barca attack, Francesc Fabregas continues to prove his worth with his attacking skills and midfield play—chalking up 15 goals and 11 assists this season, as well as 1.3 key passes per game.

    Statistically speaking, the Spaniard ranks in the top three for the team in average match rating behind Xavi and Messi and is certainly a valid selection in the starting side for Barcelona.


CM: Sergio Busquets

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    Age: 22

    Nationality: Spanish

    I've put Sergio Busquets in the middle of the park, mainly for his central defending skills that come to the fore in his midfield play.

    Whilst he may not boast the attacking depths of Francesc Fabregas or Xavi, his ability to hold the middle and command the possession that Barcelona thrives on is crucial to this side.

    The 22-year-old ranks in the top three in total passes per game, accurate passes per game and accurate long balls per game and has justified his selection in the midfield throughout the entire year.

RM: Xavi Hernandez

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    Age: 32

    Nationality: Spanish

    Arguably the most critical part of the Barcelona midfield is Xavi, whose numbers justify those claims.

    Throughout the year, Xavi currently averages a phenomenal 105.4 passes per game at 93.5 percent completion, as well as eight accurate long balls and 2.2 key passes per match.

    Throw in to that mix 14 goals and seven assists, and it's little wonder that Barcelona's attack occurs down the right side of the field more than any other area.

LF: Neymar

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    Age: 20

    Nationality: Brazilian

    Finally, we get to Neymar.

    Should the Brazilian end up moving to the Spanish super side, I've got him down at left-striker for Barcelona as the most likely position where he fits in.

    I can't see him taking over for Lionel Messi in the middle or Alexis Sanchez on the right, and especially considering the possession-style football that the Barcelona midfield enjoy, he wouldn't fit that well in the midfield, either.

    Which means left-striker it is for the 20-year-old, who will surely set the footballing world alight with his incredible skills for many years to come.

CF: Lionel Messi

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    Age: 24

    Nationality: Argentinian

    Barcelona have the greatest player in world football up front for them, and it's shown this season, as Lionel Messi continues to outclass and outshine anything that comes in his path.

    Bound to benefit from Neymar's ability to attract defenders, Messi could do the impossible if the Brazilian joins Barcelona—he could have an even greater year than he already has.

    Considering the 66 goals, 18 assists and 28 Man of the Match awards he's chalked up already this season, that truly is a scary thought.

RF: Andres Iniesta

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    Age: 27

    Nationality: Spanish

    Known mostly as a midfielder, Andres Iniesta fills the final spot in the starting side for Barcelona here—though it very easily could have gone to Alexis Sanchez as well—as the right striker.

    With two superstars already up front with him in Neymar and Lionel Messi, Iniesta fits the mold better because of his assist work and passing skills to feed the other two.

    His ability to hold on to the ball and hit that key pass would truly complete an already feared Barcelona attack.

    If Neymar does come to Barcelona, he'll have no trouble finding the back of the net in a side that averages more than four goals per match.

    Having said that, this is a team of superstars, and he must know that for all of his skill, he most likely wouldn't be the main man in their attack—not just yet, anyway.

    There's still plenty of years left in the dynasty for that to happen.


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