With Barcelona already boasting the best player in the world in Lionel Messi, many wondered why Tito Vilanova's squad went and signed Neymar, who, for the most part, plays the same position.
Now flash forward to moments after Brazil's 2-0 Confederations Cup win over Mexico on Wednesday afternoon.
Oh, so that's why.
With Neymar, it has never been a question about talent. Seemingly the next in the line of world-class Brazilian players, there is nothing the 21-year-old can't do with the ball at his feet.
And I mean nothing:
On talent alone, he is already arguably a top-three player in the world.
But there have always been concerning questions surrounding the flashy forward. Is he too selfish? Does he dive and spend too much time trying to persuade calls from the refs? Does he settle for substance and style over production and output?
His deficiencies, in a word, are mental.
As such, you sometimes forget what he is capable of—but on Wednesday he reminded us in spectacular, jaw-dropping fashion.
Most will initially point to his involvement in Brazil's two goals.
In the ninth minute, a poor Mexico clearance found the foot of Neymar at the top of the box, where he sent in a scorching volley just out of the reach of goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona:
The deflection was a little fortunate, and it was poor marking on Mexico's part, but that finish was both gorgeous and clinical.
We would have to wait more than 80 minutes until Brazil's second goal, but the wait was undoubtedly worth it.
Stuck near the touch line with two Mexican defenders draped on him, it looked like Neymar had nowhere to go. Suddenly, after lulling the defenders to sleep, he knifed through them both, freed himself in the box and delivered a perfect ball to Jo, who finished easily:
What can you even say about that? That's beyond world-class. That's out-of-this-universe-class.
Moreover, while the time spent in between those two marquee plays wasn't nearly as spectacular or SportsCenter Top-10 worthy, it was productive.
According to WhoScored.com, Neymar was third on Brazil with 64 touches. He fired off two shots on target, completed 31 passes at an 87 percent success rate and was constantly beating opponents down the sideline and delivering in tantalizing crosses.
Neymar was active, involved and interested, and he put on an absolute clinic in every aspect of the game, completely out-classing everyone around him.
This makes him 2-for-2 on spectacular Confederations Cup performances (although he was better on Wednesday than he was against Japan).
If he continues to showcase this kind of focus and determination, he has the talent to produce many more enthralling moments like this with Barcelona and back at home in the 2014 World Cup.
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