Basic Requirements for Neymar's Debut Season with Barcelona
The clock is ticking down to Barcelona's match against Levante at Camp Nou, this week revealed as their first game of the new season, which will likely present Neymar with his first competitive opportunity to impress.
After excelling at the Confederations Cup, the expectations—which were already high—have seemingly risen ahead of the next part of the 21-year-old's career.
It's a big move for the young Brazilian, though, and it is worth remembering that he will not just be adapting to a new club, but also to a new country, a new continent and a new language.
With that in mind, and presuming not to expect too much in Neymar's first season in Catalunya, what are the minimum expectations for his debut campaign?
Stay Fit, Stay in the Team
On a personal level, this is probably the most important requirement for Neymar's first season in La Liga.
As we approach the World Cup in Brazil next summer, he will want to once again—like at the Confederations Cup—be the man to take the hopes of a futebol mad nation on his shoulders.
If he doesn't stay injury free and in the Barcelona team throughout the coming season, he may not be at his best in 2014.
From Barca's point of view, they want their expensive signing fit and playing as much as possible too.
Make the Right Decisions
When the tricks come off, you obviously look like a massive hero; if they don't, people can become frustrated quickly.
As a club which resides in a city which produces two daily newspapers near enough solely devoted to football, Barcelona's players are rarely out of the spotlight.
Cesc Fabregas, as an example, has often suffered with the Catalan press.
Neymar can beat a man in the blink of an eye, but it's important that's not all he tries on the Blaugrana left-side or frustration may build in the stands—football's an increasingly impatient game.
Everyone loves the finer details of the game—quick passing and tricky feet—but if you work hard for the team, you're always more likely to be appreciated.
Barcelona have, in recent years, relied on a pressing game in the last two-thirds of the pitch which requires their players to work and harass the opposition as soon as they lose the ball.
It wasn't completely evident last season. Therefore, if Neymar can help bring it back on a regular basis, he'll have fulfilled one of the basic requirements.
His skills and goals will make him liked. His work ethic could make him loved.
Function with Messi
Can Lionel Messi and Neymar function together next season? That's one of the main questions hanging over world football at the moment.
Speaking to the press last week, Pep Guardiola suggested he thinks they'll be fine, according to Goal.com:
"Will they work together? The best player of all time alongside a brilliant footballer? I’m sure they’ll work together."
We don't have much longer to wait to find out.
Score More Than 11 Goals
After Lionel Messi, Barcelona's top goalscorer last season was Cesc Fabregas, who scored 11 times in La Liga—next were Alexis Sanchez (8) and Pedro Rodriguez (7).
And whether they're vocal about it or not, Barca will be hopeful that Neymar can lift some of the weight from Messi's shoulders.
In his last full season with Santos in Brazil, the 21-year-old struck 23 times in 31 appearances, while scoring four times in five appearances for his national team at this summer's Confederations Cup.
It might be unfair to expect too many goals, but to better Fabregas's 11 is not asking too much at all.