Neymar could add new dimension to Barca

Posted by Francesc Tomas

While the remarkable team effort that enabled the dramatic comeback against Milan and the improved performances from on-form David Villa may have most Cules feeling slightly more positive about the situation, the truth is that Barcelona has at times -- and for at least the second consecutive season -- lacked the attacking variety and options a team that wants to challenge for every title needs.

Unfortunately, rivals have obviously worked out that stopping Lionel Messi is the key to hurt the Catalans and that, without his insanely huge influence, the rest of the team can sometimes lack that extra bite, the ability to break through.

Sure, the sluggish pace at which the midfield players have at times moved the ball hasn't helped either, but the signing of a new constant goalscoring threat would certainly give Tito Vilanova's side a new dimension.

Having scored 49 goals in his last 54 appearances for Santos, it is obvious Neymar has what it takes to find the net, an innate eye for goal which allows him to always seem to be in the right place at the right time.

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Sure, the Brazilian championship may not be the strongest competition in world football, but the truth is the potential to become a prolific goalscorer at European level is certainly there.

Because of his attacking nature and tendency to shine whenever given spaces and a considerable degree of freedom, many argue that Neymar would be unable to adapt to Barcelona as long as Messi remains the main attacking threat.

Personally, I feel that those who doubt him have failed to notice that the 21-year-old now realises he would need to accept a less predominant role given the status La Pulga has reached at the Camp Nou.

In a recent interview, Neymar was full of praise not only for Messi, but also for many of the other Blaugrana stars: "Barcelona is the team I enjoy the most. They have Messi, the best player in the world, but also other sensational players such as Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta, Cesc (Fabregas) or Dani Alves."

Considering his more humble recent attitude, I have no doubt that El Mohicano would be willing to adapt his current starring role at Santos for a chance to play alongside Messi while he adapts to the traditionally more demanding European competitions.

Would Neymar be able to track back as hard as Pedro or Alexis Sanchez do when dispossessed? Perhaps not, but then again, the primary purpose of an attacking player must be beating the rival keeper as many times as possible, not thinking about what may happen if they lose a ball when taking risks going forward.

Take the recent Barcelona performances as an example: The most decisive factor against AC Milan or even Rayo Vallecano a couple of days later was the attacking connection between Messi and Villa, not necessarily the defensive intensity demonstrated by Alexis.

Don't get me wrong, both aspects are important for the team to function as a whole. But it is obvious those players who have scoring as second nature are the ones who, ultimately, end up unbalancing games and adding silverware to the team's museum -- also the reason why signing them can cost irrational amounts of money.

Because of his undeniable ability to attract defenders, Neymar's arrival at the Camp Nou would instantly boost the contribution of all of his potential teammates. There would certainly by at least one less defender man-marking La Pulga, creating spaces for the Argentinean genius to roam around and run through.

Iniesta and Xavi would have another terribly skilled attacking focus to find when under pressure, someone capable of beating defenders one-on-one and with enough vision to either cross to the area or return to base if needed.

In Neymar's case, it is clear that he would benefit from having quality associates such as Messi or Iniesta, creative players from who he would definitely learn loads from in terms of game-pacing, rotating or passing while looking for an opening.

At the same time, the Brazilian forward would bring an added element of freshness, confidence and sharpness to a team that often finds itself fighting against insanely tight rival defences.

When asked about the prospective arrival of the Brazilian forward to the Camp Nou, legendary Blaugrana manager Johan Cruyff didn't hesitate to explain: "Barcelona doesn't need Neymar. Barça has a fantastic squad, so why waste any money?

"If he plays for the squad and for Messi, then he would be a good fit, though. Messi is a true artist with the ball at his feet and you're stupid if you don't respect him."

While I have huge respect for everything El Flaco has contributed to the club's history, I must say I disagree with this opinion -- Barcelona does need a young, fresh striker who can add another dimension to the team's attack, and now Neymar seems to fit job the description perfectly -- plus, if Sandro Rosell and Andoni Zubizarreta agree to spend money on signing him, it is because the club can afford it.

While I have followed the careers of players like Carles Puyol, Eric Abidal, Xavi or David Villa and definitely appreciate everything they have given the club over the years, the truth is that they are not getting any younger and Barcelona would be wise to introduce the next generation while these experienced role-models are still within the squad -- the more gradual the transition, the better.

If Neymar selects Barcelona as his next destination, both player and club would benefit enormously -- let's hope he makes the right choice and Cules can see him develop into the star his undeniable potential deserves while bringing further glory to the Camp Nou.

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