Jorge Barraza: Neymar: What happened to this phenomenon? | Columnists | sports

“He’s a former player” … “He’s physically burned” … “He’s fat” … “He’s already an ultra-millionaire and he’s no longer interested in football” … “A partygoer” … “They inflated him” … “He spends fighting with rivals” … ” Exaggerate any blow ”…“ He’s a kid ”…“ Pure marketing“…” Live for the holidays, not for football “…” It is not even among the first hundred cracks of all time “…” He will never win the Ballon d’Or “…

In addition to the millions he collects for his various contracts, Neymar reaps animosity in equal proportions from fans around the world, an unusual case for being a fascinating player who, indeed, has not achieved the levels expected of him given his extraordinary soccer skills. The incredible thing is that the vast majority of these criticisms come from Brazil, his country, and from France, where he is in his fifth season and where every week he has friction with rivals and referees. What is the reason for so much animosity against him …? Possibly the character’s over-press and his own sky-high exposure. It happens with James Rodríguez. There is so much news about his figure that he ends up playing against him. Because he cannot return with football and success the level of expectation he generates. Although, at least, Neymar plays.

Beyond the public-athlete relationship, the world of football wonders what happens with Neymar, why is his level so low. Only Ney could answer it. But he has become a common player. Good, but very normal. A true dribble monster (this is indisputable) cannot exceed a mark, they go over it and take it off. A crack The pass does not manage to put a filtered ball to leave only a teammate facing the goal. A very fast boy as he was, accelerates, but cannot overcome the opponent’s line. And less and less goals. An attacker who managed to score 43, 42, 31 goals in other seasons, in the last two he added 19 and 17. Seven of these 17 were penalties. And so far this year, just a little, also a penalty. The same happens with assists: he served 27, 25, 22 goals to his teammates; That number has dropped dramatically to 13, 12, 11. He now has 2.

That, in their different clubs (Santos, Barcelona, ​​PSG). In the green-yellow selection it is a carbon copy. He reached years of 15 and 9 goals with Brazil, then fell to 3, 1, 3, now he has 5, three of them through the maximum penalty. A crash, almost inexplicable. He was moving away from the rival arc and also was giving prominence in the assembly. Today Tite will surely enlist Everton Ribeiro (with a great presence at Flamengo) and Lucas Paquetá, to help him build the game.

We are talking about an elite athlete with just 29 years old, a perfect age to be the king of football. At 29, Di Stéfano was starting his legend with Real Madrid, Pelé was still a machine, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo passed 60 annotations. It’s like Ney got tired of running behind Messi and Cristiano for number one and got off the road. And it is perfectly understandable, both are competitive animals like football never saw, inalienable to the idea of ​​continuing at the top despite the almanac. “He spent ten years fighting against the best in history (Messi) and against an individual with a titanium head (Cristiano), it is logical that he could have abandoned that career. He did not give it, but Neymar was more than Romario, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, he had more things. He is even the second scorer in the history of the Brazilian National Team behind Pelé. And it can happen, he only has ten goals to go, “says Héctor, a follower on Twitter and an acute analyst of the game. It is also possible that he gave in to the pressure imposed on him by his own compatriots, eager to have a successor to so many previous phenomena.. Even being overwhelmed by the constant predictions of Pelé, Kaká, Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Thiago Silva that he would be the king of soccer. For years it was a weekly thing. Now they silenced their voices.

Today he is in 41st place among the favorites for the Ballon d’Or, and that he plays in France, where they deliver the award. Of course, they see him there every week and can feel his performance first hand.

This decline has been going on for too long to call it “a momentary downturn.” And it is understood that, heading to 30 calendars, he can still reach an optimal athletic condition, but he will no longer have the speed or glide of 19 or 20. We always say that, when he was 21 or 22 years old, he faced 29-year-old defenders. , now it was reversed: he is 29 and must body and unbalance 21 or 22 defenders. When he arrived at Barcelona in mid-2013, Ney was a plane, a gazelle, he seemed to be on roller skates, he threw the ball forward and passed like lightning between three, now he overtakes it and cannot get that half meter that the attacker needs to unbalance. That is why he was delayed in the field. Manuel Pellegrini told us in an interview in 2002: “There are two things that a forward cannot be: slow and cowardly. But it never unbalances ”.

“I lack respect,” he declared when he arrived in Paris after the triple elimination date in September, in which his performances were so poor that he was beaten in Brazil, even from former players today dedicated to commentators, always very benevolent among colleagues. Walter Casagrande, center-forward corinthian From the 80s, widely heard on TV, he is particularly hard on Ney: “He is not the player we need for the World Cup.”

It will not be easy for a footballer with such infrequent virtues to repeat himself: supreme technique, frontal dribbling, speed, excellent forehand, offensive vocation, fantasy, goal, joy to play and combine. But it is written that conditions alone do not reach the top, You have to accompany them with attitude, mentality, perseverance. The best benchmark for comparison is Cristiano: being much less gifted in football, he has achieved ten times more.

No player is finished at 29. We have to wait – and hope – that he returns to levels of excellence, this Thursday he can start against Venezuela. However, it is already a crime against football, a waste. It debuted in 2009, due to aptitude it could have reached stratospheric levels. But the years went by and it was not given. And now it’s unrecognizable. Maybe I will be able to crown in the World Cup next year. It’s on time. (OR)