Can Neymar become an all-time great in spite of his antics?

Can Neymar become an all-time great in spite of antics?

Neymar hit the headlines again following his winning goal against Liverpool in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

We've been asking the same question since his early days at Barcelona. Just how good is Neymar? This world-class talent amazes with the ball. At times, he does things with it that the eye can barely keep up with. But just as equally, he hits the headlines for all the wrong reasons, for his gamesmanship, his diving and all the rest of it.

That, above all, has held him back more than anything else. The anger he evokes from fans for his antics. Though, he's hardly the first star of world football to have a controversial side.

The likes of Maradona, Paul Gascoigne and even Cristiano Ronaldo have all drawn criticism for inherent traits, but there's just something worse about what Neymar does. There's no 'right' way to play this game that we all love, but at times, particularly when watching what Neymar does to win free-kicks and penalties, there seems to be a 'wrong' way.

Having said that, it's not all down to the player and you've got to take it into consideration that players like these are, in any case, fouled more than most.

Their trickery and pace often leads to many clips of the heels from opposition players in games, and that's something we've seen with Lionel Messi, Eden Hazard and the likes. Neymar takes advantage of that and it drives fans insane. But there's also another side to the Brazilian, a side that wonders, a side that whets the appetite for the beautiful game.

Neymar Milner

World-class talent

The 26-year-old - that's right, he's still only 26 - can do things with the ball that few others can, that few others ever could.

He's shown just how good he is on almost every stage, winning 18 club honours, including La Liga, the Champions League and the Club World Cup, Ligue 1. Internationally, it hasn't quite worked out for him yet, settling for just the one honour, winning the Confederations Cup in 2013.

There's just no denying his quality and while it was a breath-taking amount of money, few could be genuinely surprised that it was him who was going to break the transfer record at £198 million when he left Barcelona for PSG.

Love him or loathe him, everybody in world football fully understood that PSG were buying one of the world's best players. Though, his move to PSG has, perhaps, halted his hopes of becoming one of the greatest of all time.

At Barcelona, he was on course, winning the treble, including the Champions League, and playing across a front-line that nobody could stop.

He left because he felt that anything he achieved at Barcelona would be in the shadow of Lionel Messi. He felt that he had to achieve something by being the biggest star in the team, but that decision may have cost him his legacy in many ways.

Neymar Van Dijk

Champions League or bust

He's yet to win a European honour with PSG and most discount domestic honours for the French club. No disrespect to Ligue 1, but any club that spends that much money in a league that already struggles to keep up with others, quite frankly should win the league title every year.

If Neymar leads PSG to the Champions League title, perhaps people's perception will change, but he's not going to become an all-time great by winning domestic French titles.

He may also get to the standing he so desperately craves by winning the World Cup with Brazil, but that seems a while off with the quality other nations possess.

There's no doubting that Neymar is a top five, maybe even a top three talent. Other that Messi and Ronaldo, is there anyone who has been as good as Neymar and as consistent?

PSG Neymar

Individual or team player?

The Brazilian is a wonderful player. However, there's a fine line between being one of the best in your time and an all-time great.

The latter comes with glory, European honours, international honours, it doesn't come from league titles and a Ballon D'or.

Many will disagree, perhaps it should be based on talent alone, not what you win with a team. But with Neymar, that has to be the case. To be an all-time great, you need to be an all-round player. You need to have special talent as Neymar has, but you also need all the other ingredients that make a successful footballer.

You have to prove you can be part of a team and that's something Neymar hasn't done. He's an individualist in a team sport. He needs to prove otherwise.Would he already be an all-time great if he had stayed at Barcelona? Who knows. Barcelona haven't won the Champions League since his departure.

But one thing appears to be for sure. Unless he leads his current club to a Champions League title or achieves something away from the norm of Ligue 1, he's not going to become an all-time great while with PSG.


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