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Does Neymar get the adulation he deserves?

Monday 23rd January 2017
After ending an extended open play drought in La Liga with his late strike at Eibar on Sunday, Barcelona star Neymar is now level with the great Ronaldinho on 94 goals for the Camp Nou giants. But as he closes on the century, is it time for the 24-year-old to finally be accepted at the top table of world football?
Neymar is now just six away from becoming the second Brazilian to reach triple figures in a Barca shirt, after Rivaldo, while his international record of 50 goals in just 75 caps is equally jaw-dropping. However, as part of the fearsome MSN trio, his name isn't only last for the sake of an acronym; Messi-Suarez-Neymar is very much the ranking in perceived quality too.

It's difficult to argue against that reality. After all, Luis Suarez reached his century earlier this month in just 120 games while Lionel Messi is largely accepted as the greatest player in Barcelona's history – and possibly the sport's history too. Nevertheless, that shouldn't detract from the obvious quality of Neymar, who should score his 100th goal long before his 200th game despite largely operating from a wide position.

While the South American trio fit together seamlessly, especially when Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic are providing the ammunition, they each have their own qualities. However, it's Neymar who is blessed with a sprinkling of everything. He might not entertain the Camp Nou crowd quite like Ronaldinho did in his pomp, but he is the showman who also has the proficient touch to ensure those endeavours actively help his side secure the points.

Still only 24, he is vulnerable to dips in goalscoring form, as we saw in recent weeks, but that hasn't prevented him from having a positive impact on the team's progress. After all, he sits third in the Liga assists charts while nobody could match his seven assists in the Champions League group phase.

And even if he doesn't always contribute to the same frightening consistency as the other two, it's important to remember that he is still five years their junior. Big Phil Scolari has already suggested that Neymar will overtake his teammates, as well as Cristiano Ronaldo, within the next two years, and there is no denying the Brazilian's future Ballon d'Or credentials. If his career continues to follow the same trajectory, he will become the world's best at some stage.

Due to being somewhat overshadowed by his teammates, as well as Ronaldo who invariably keeps him out of the FIFPro XI, many still consider Neymar as ‘one for the future'. Those thoughts shouldn't cloud the opinion of his current calibre, though, because quite frankly he is an attacking sensation.

Neymar is one of the top six performing attacking stars of the last two or three years, and it's about time he received the plaudits for what he has achieved rather than what he inevitably will. If he was at any other club, he'd be universally accepted as a phenomenon. Being surrounded by two fellow world-class superstars shouldn't stop that; in fact, it should make us appreciate his quality more.

Of course, most football fans appreciate he is a top player. In a world where he is one of the top two players in his position, though, he probably deserves more recognition  – at least outside of Brazil.
Liam Newman
Liam is a freelance football writer published by Shoot, Goal, Bleacher Report, Late Tackle, Blowing Bubbles, SportsKeeda, These Football Times, Football Whispers, and more. He supports West Ham and has watched England play in over 35 countries.

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