Neymar's move to Barcelona last summer was one of the most talked-about transfers of the past few years, and rightly so. The Brazilian starlet was already one of the biggest names in football, and he was ready to make the transition to Europe.
Since his arrival, Barcelona has already managed to win silverware and are currently alive and well in their three major competitions. Neymar has become one of the most important players in the squad and it is easy to forget that he is still only 21 years old.
But just how successful has the Brazilian been in his first six months at the Catalan club? Let's take a look.
Neymar's Barcelona career got off to a flying start in August, to say the very least. The Catalans faced off with Copa del Rey champions Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa in a two-legged affair that had everything football matches should.
In the first leg, Atletico Madrid took the lead through a beautiful goal from David Villa and looked as though they were going to be able to pull off a vital victory at home.
Lionel Messi was removed at halftime, and it felt like the match would end in a loss. That is, until Neymar made his presence felt.
The Brazilian was subbed on in the second half and managed to score a wonderful header at the far post to level the score which was held until the final whistle. It was certainly the perfect time to score his first goal for the club.
At the time it didn't seem as big as it actually was. Neymar had scored to save Barcelona from defeat, but little did anyone know that his header would actually be the strike that won the trophy for Barcelona.
The second leg at the Camp Nou was played to a scoreless draw and Barcelona were crowned champions thanks to Neymar's invaluable away goal. He had arrived.
Shots per game: 2.5
Key passes per game: 1.7
Dribbles per game: 3.2
Pass completion: 84.5%
Man of the match: 3
Neymar's start to the La Liga season was relatively slow. He was not given the starting spot from day one; Tata Martino made him work for it, which seemed to pay dividends.
The Brazilian linked up well with his teammates and was a real menace going forward. He was creating assists and making his presence felt, but it took until late September for Neymar to score his first La Liga goal in a 4-1 victory over Real Sociedad.
Afterward, Neymar continued to transition into regular European play at a reasonable speed. He played impressive matches and had a major influence on games, but he still looked timid to take chances at goal.
As the season progressed, the 21-year-old eventually found his rhythm. He discovered his role in the lineup and began to put in very consistent performances.
It wasn't until Lionel Messi went down injured that Neymar really began to take off. With the scoring load now on his shoulders, the Brazilian picked up his play more than ever and showed what he could really do.
At this point in the season Neymar has managed to find the back of the net six times while giving eight assists. He is also getting plenty of chances each game and using his dribbling ability to create as well.
Above all else, his strike against Real Madrid and stunning performance in his first El Clasico have already given the fans enough to rave about. That match could be one that fans will talk about years from now.
Though he has looked very good for the most part, Neymar still isn't scoring as many goals as you would expect. Yet at the same time, it is impossible to overlook the overall impact he has had on Barcelona's offense as a whole.
Shots per game: 4.8
Key passes per game: 1.5
Dribbles per game: 4.7
Pass completion: 87.5%
Man of the match: 2
Neymar's statistics in the Champions League are wonderful, yet they can also be a bit misleading. He has managed to score three times in six matches, but it should be noted that all three strikes came in Barcelona's 6-1 victory over Celtic.
For the most part Neymar has been a very important competitor for Barcelona in European play. His ability to impact the offense has given defenders major trouble, and it is no fluke that he has been named the man of the match twice.
However, the same issues still exist for him in the Champions League.
Despite averaging even more shots and dribbles per game, Neymar has struggled in front of goal. It could be that the Brazilian is trying not to be the main attraction but it is clear that he has to do better at finishing off chances.
Scoring problems aside, Neymar has been a big success in the Champions League. Many wondered if he would be able to deal with European football, and he has done a great job of proving skeptics wrong and growing up fast.
Copa del Rey
The 21-year-old has only featured once in the Copa del Rey this season, so not much should be read into his lone performance.
Neymar started in Barcelona's 3-0 victory over Cartagena and looked very composed throughout the match. He was again the most dangerous man on the pitch and the difference-maker. His goal was pure class, and it showed what he can do as a striker.
He will surely be getting more chances in the Copa del Rey, as Barcelona will be looking to win the competition. He could even be in the starting lineup Thursday when La Blaugrana face off with Getafe.
The move to Barcelona was never going to be easy for Neymar. He had so many expectations on his shoulders and the world was just waiting for him to fail.
But he has done a terrific job of proving the critics wrong for the most part. Not only has he showed that he can perform in Europe, he has become one of the most important and consistent players at such a historic club.
Neymar can't receive a perfect grade for his first six months because he is still finding his scoring boots for Barcelona. Fans were certainly expecting more goals from the Brazilian, and sooner or later, he has to deliver.
He has said as much himself. Speaking to El Mundo Deportivo (h/t Marca), Neymar admitted there remains plenty of room for improvement. "I'm very happy with the way I've started here, and I know I can do a lot more for this Barça side," he said.
It is understandable that Neymar would have to get used to his new role and way of playing to be at his best, and that is why I have given him a pass for his lack of goals so far.
If he continues to struggle in front of goal for the rest of the season, then his move to Barcelona will be seen as not having met expectations. But for now, he has done everything else perfectly to deserve a strong grade at this point in the season.
Neymar continues to show that he has the ability to be one of the best players in the world. He still has untapped potential, and Barcelona appears to be the perfect place for him to further develop as a footballer.
What do you think of Neymar's first six months at Barcelona? Has he been a success to this point? Leave your thoughts and comments below!
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