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Why Felipão and Neymar Should Both Be Monitoring Lucas Moura's PSG Progress

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 10:  Lucas of PSG is challenged by Sergio Busquets of Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg match between Barcelona and Paris St Germain at Nou Camp on April 10, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Christopher AtkinsContributor INovember 24, 2016

As Paris Saint-Germain left the Camp Nou pitch following their 1-1 draw with Barcelona last night, it was in the knowledge that they had arrived on the scene as a major player in European football.

The Parisiens may not have had as smooth a sailing in Ligue 1 this season as some would have liked to have seen, but few sides have taken the game to Barcelona at the Camp Nou and come away so relatively unscathed.

But for the away goals rule—the merits of which are worthy of discussion—they may have had the chance to down Barcelona in injury time, with game-changer Lionel Messi almost unable to run by the end of the 90 minutes.

Whatever the final outcome, PSG left the field with their reputation greatly enhanced and, among their ranks, none more so than 20-year-old Brazilian Lucas Moura.

In a vibrant first-half display from the visitors, Lucas was electric. His pace and trickery had Jordi Alba worried throughout, and, with Ezequiel Lavezzi doing likewise, PSG were able to pin back Barcelona's much discussed full-backs.

With Daniel Alves and Jordi Alba taken out of the equation as attacking threats, defending the Barcelona onslaught became a substantially easier task.

If it was the night that PSG announced their arrival among Europe's elite, then it was likewise for Lucas. Good performances against Valencia and in Ligue 1 are commendable, but it is nights like Wednesday that will ultimately define his career.

In making Spain star Jordi Alba look lost on regular occasions for the first hour, he has made a fine start to life on the main European stage.

While his major role in São Paulo's success in the Copa Sudamericana late last year may have failed to propel him into the Brazil first XI, more nights like this just might.

Selecao manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has been seeking a fourth member of his attacking unit to play alongside Neymar, Fred and Oscar, and the evidence suggests Lucas may just be that man.

In terms of natural talent, he is certainly ahead of Hulk, while much will depend on whether Felipão continues to look to Ronaldinho or Kaka to provide experience. One could argue that it is more important to play your best eleven players and, on his form over the past six months, that includes Lucas.

Thus far, though, he remains underused. Lucas has appeared 23 times for his country—a fine record at his age—but has only started on seven occasions, completing 90 minutes just once.

In total he has played just 755 minutes—the equivalent of eight matches.

With the Confederations Cup ahead, his continued good form—albeit in domestic action—will leave Scolari open to some difficult questions if he is not included from the start.

That, then, brings us to Neymar. The debate over his future, and when or if he leaves Brazil, has been tiresome. It is, as Lucas himself said, a personal choice for the Santos man to make (h/t Sambafoot.com).

However, while Lucas was busy cutting Barcelona down to size, and Oscar, likewise, preparing to challenge for Europa League and FA Cup honours, Neymar was travelling to the small state of Piauí for a Copa do Brasil clash against amateurs Flamengo-PI.

The contrast could not have been bigger and, while not a particularly fair comparison, it will once more see Neymar's decision questioned.

Put simply, Neymar is and has always been the leading light of the Brazilian trio, in terms of talent and achievements. What he is gaining from staying in Brazil, though, is questionable—other than financial rewards.

There is nothing overtly "wrong" with his choice and, given the age of his young son, it is understandable. He could go to Europe in 2014 at the age of 22 and have plenty of time to achieve his career aims. He, undoubtedly, has the talent to rank among the very best in the world.

For Brazil's ambitions at the 2014 World Cup, though, it is perhaps not ideal. It will also be interesting to see whether, having always been the star, the propulsion of Lucas and Oscar to the back pages of papers the world over will have an influence in his decision making process in the coming months.

Lucas is now taking his opportunity in Paris and testing himself against the very best in the world. On Wednesday night, he proved to many that he is perfectly at home on that illustrious stage.

Scolari will no doubt have been watching on from across the Atlantic and will surely have been impressed with what he witnessed. But, make no mistake about it, Neymar will also have been watching his friend with keen interest.

He has spoken before of the attraction of the Champions League and, in all honesty, it is the place where he and his prodigious talents deserve to be. The long flight home from Piauí will no doubt be a time of reflection as he watches his colleague share the limelight.

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