Should Barcelona Follow Brazil's Lead to Get the Best out of Neymar?

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Should Barcelona Follow Brazil's Lead to Get the Best out of Neymar?
Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press
Neymar shines whenever he plays for Brazil.

Neymar has patently performed better when wearing the shirt of the Selecao than when he has been adorned in Blaugrana. The evidence is irrefutable.

With the quality of the Brasileirao negligable, it's a fair bet that Neymar's form for his national team was a better barometer for Sandro Rosell and his administration to judge if the youngster was worth their euros.

With the decision eventually made—one not without its problems—Rosell and Barcelona greeted their newest player with a fanfare normally only reserved for the very best.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press
Neymar's unveiling saw 60,000 supporters turn up at Camp Nou.

Just 21 years of age when he put pen to paper, Neymar's quality was already self-evident. Yet, over the following 10 months, that quality was noticeable by its absence at club level. A very definite case of putting his country first.

His two goals against Croatia in the opening game of the World Cup took him to an astonishing 33 strikes in just 50 appearances over four years for Brazil. That brings him level with Ronaldinho, who took another 10 years to reach his total.

Goals aside, Neymar looks completely natural and relaxed in his role for the national team, sitting just behind the centre forward, in this case Fred. The scope of the position allows him to break down either side or centrally if the main striker takes his marker away from the middle of the park.

It perhaps gives Neymar more of an appreciation of the movement of the entire front line than when he is shoved out on the left at Barcelona, where he generally needs to think about beating his man before bringing others into play.

David Ramos/Getty Images
Barcelona have continued to play Neymar on the left to accommodate Lionel Messi.

Brazilian journalist Aldo Junior also noted in a video interview with Matt Lawton of the Daily Mail that Neymar feels more "comfortable" in the national team shirt, hence why they have seen the best of him and the Catalans haven't.

Barcelona have played the Brazilian centrally on occasions. A hat-trick against Celtic and goals against Rayo Vallecano and Real Valladolid perhaps gave a clue as to where the player excels, even though he was used further forward on those occasions.

He cleary enjoys the freedom that a central role gives him, and rather than Barcelona pigeonholing him into the left-wing berth in order to accommodate Lionel Messi and another, if they want to start to see the very best from Neymar, then perhaps trying him in a similar position to that he plays in for Brazil will reap appropriate dividends.

They only need to study the movement for Neymar's first goal against Croatia to acknowledge the area in which he works best.

Much has been made of the €86 million transfer fee and that the player has failed in some way to live up to the price tag or the hype.

Should Barcelona play Neymar centrally rather than wide?

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However, to be highly critical of a player who is not only getting used to a new club but also a new league, new culture and new surroundings, is grossly unfair.

Yes, he was brought in to take the heat away from Messi and has ended up competing further down the scale against the likes of Pedro Rodriguez and Alexis Sanchez. But at 22, and despite already having the world at his very talented feet, he still has much to learn about the European game.

Neymar can absolutely become the player that everyone expects for Barcelona, but instead of expecting players to fit into a rigid 4-3-3, it's time for the Catalans to apply different systems that suit the protagonists.

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