Those watching Neymar for the first time at the Confederations Cup have learned two things about him: he is very talented and often dives to draw fouls.
That first part is what could make the young player an international superstar. The 21-year-old forward has a knack for scoring highlight-reel goals and making defenders look silly while trying to guard him.
So far in the Confederations Cup, he has led Brazil to four victories while totaling three goals and two assists. Almost all of his scores have been impressive to watch, and this assist might have been one of the best plays of the tournament:
Neymar will join Barcelona next season, and fans are salivating over the thought of him playing alongside Lionel Messi at Camp Nou. If he continues to play at this level, he will become a household name before the year ends.
Unfortunately, the other notable characteristic is holding him back. The talented player has a propensity for diving onto the pitch whenever a defender is near him.
Uruguay captain Diego Lugano was certainly aware of what to look out for heading into the semifinal match. According to Ben Smith of BBC Sport, the defender said prior to match against Brazil:
Neymar can feign a foul, so we must be watchful nobody is fooled. He is very apt at pretending to be fouled and is very lightweight, so he can drop to the ground and fool the referees and the rivals.
It turns out Lugano knew what he was talking about, as the young player was caught doing this late in the match:
This was obviously not the first time Neymar went down with little to no force from the opposing player. He has made a habit of dropping to the ground and holding random body parts to show that he is really injured. Of course, he then hops up seconds later, as nothing happened.
While this is part of the sport in every league around the world, the Brazilian is developing a reputation as someone who does this too often.
One of his flops earned the ridicule of CNN Italian correspondent Tancredi Palmeri, who joked that Neymar was competing in a diving competition:
Btw Neymar got 9.7 from Luxembourg judge, 9.6 from the German judge, and 9.2 from the swedish, cause the latter didn't like last dive style— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) June 26, 2013
Obviously, this is not the reputation that Neymar wants heading into his La Liga career.
When he is on his feet, the young player can do amazing things with the ball. You do not want to look away when he is on the pitch because you could miss something spectacular.
His incredible talent as an offensive force should allow him to be loved by supporters. Unfortunately, this negative quality will continue to hurt his image as long as it is part of his game.
Hopefully, this becomes something that fades away as he matures as a player with Barcelona.
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