Why Neymar Is Now More Important to Barcelona Than Lionel Messi

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Why Neymar Is Now More Important to Barcelona Than Lionel Messi
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To suggest that Neymar is now more important to Barcelona that Lionel Messi is quite the claim.

After all, the genius Argentine has been at the heart of everything positive that the Catalans have achieved over the last few seasons.

Be it goals, assists or general play, Messi can and has been relied upon to deliver the goods time after time. To date he has rarely let the side down.

In his prime as a footballer, we can expect more of the same from "La Pulga."

Yet the young Brazilian wunderkind is really coming into his own after a stop-start beginning to his career in Catalonia.

Despite the nasty injury that curtailed his own World Cup tournament, Neymar had already shown the whole world that he was, and is, more than ready to cut it on the biggest stages of all. That the responsibility sits well on those 22-year-old shoulders.

Yes, Messi got his side out of trouble on more than one occasion, but few would argue that it was Neymar and James Rodriguez who were the true stars of the tournament.

The Argentine captain's moments were sporadic, although decisive, whereas Neymar was at the heart of anything good that the Brazilians did.

Team-mate David Luiz noted to DPA via China Daily Asia:

If Neymar made it rain on the pitch, I wouldn't be surprised. In fact, I would see it as something almost normal, because I know exactly what he is capable of.

Whilst Bernard also told them:

Neymar is a different player from the rest, and it is he who makes the difference in our favor. For my money, he is more important to Brazil even than Messi is to Argentina.

Were it not for him, it's likely that the Selecao could have exited the tournament much earlier than they eventually did.

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Without him and Thiago Silva in the side against Germany, look how they crumbled.

Neymar showed brief glimpses of his form at international level during his settling in period in Catalonia.

It's easy to take the "bottle half empty" approach and suggest that Neymar didn't do this or that, but the plain fact remains that here was a young man in a new, tougher league, in a new country, completely different surroundings, etc.

For even the most seasoned professional, it takes time to adjust to such changes.

As Dermot Corrigan pointed out via his Twitter account, Luis Enrique is in no doubt as to the youngster's standing within his side:

And it's that type of backing which will allow the youngster to flourish in a new, more dynamic Blaugrana.

In an interesting 3-2-3-2 setup as proposed by Sport h/t Tom Conn of Inside Spanish Football, even if Messi is bogged down in a tightly packed midfield, which so often happened last season, Neymar will have the freedom to drive at defences.

Neymar will show, as he did in Brazil, how incisive and decisive he will be in the final third. Alongside Luis Suarez, he is sure to find space easier than he did during the last La Liga campaign, and indeed Enrique's setup will be conducive for him to do so.

Messi can be supplementary to the attack and his late runs into the box will provide an extremely inviting alternative. But his work will now get done at the tip of the midfield rather than as the false nine.

His role will be far from peripheral, but Neymar will prove beyond any doubt next season who the main man now is at Camp Nou.

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