Neymar is exactly what Barcelona need

Posted by Francesc Tomas

Since Barcelona, Santos and the player himself all confirmed the agreement to join the Liga champions next season, Neymar-mania has invaded the Catalan capital. Despite the fact that his future shirt number at the Camp Nou hasn't even been confirmed yet, Cules have already flooded to the stores to be the first to have a piece of their exciting, talented new signing.

Unsurprisingly, expectation around the 21-year-old forward is massive. Brazilian stars such as Romario, Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho have famously succeeded at the Camp Nou in the past, but I strongly believe that comparing Neymar to such legends wouldn't be of benefit to his career in the slightest. There is simply no need to put unnecessary pressure on a promising young player who is still to adapt to both European football and the Barcelona formation.

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From a strictly sporting point of view, the arrival of Neymar has the potential to take the traditional Blaugrana approach on to the next level. El Mohicano has already announced his excitement about the prospect of playing next to Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez; a subtle message which clearly shows his understanding of the dressing room hierarchy at the Camp Nou.

At the same time though, his new teammates are also looking forward to welcoming Neymar to the squad. Key man Messi certainly sees the new addition as a chance to boost the team's attack and will certainly do his best to accommodate the skillful Brazilian, allowing him to showcase his lethal dribbling, unparalleled technique and ability to attract, then beat defenders within the Blaugrana system.

During his time at Santos and with the Brazilian national team, Neymar has been known for his ability to change games whenever things turned ugly, always eager to carry the team. His pace, agility and ability to rotate and combine with those around him truly make him a great addition to a squad that, let's not forget, is already overflowing with world-class talent.

Barcelona have just won the club's 22nd domestic league title and signed one of the most promising forwards in world football, despite the player reportedly having much more generous offers from major rivals such as Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Los Blancos' supremo Florentino Perez explained: "I would have signed Neymar, but there were many conditions involved. We would have had to pay 150 million euros; I'm not sure how much Barcelona agreed his transfer on."

At this point, I would like to congratulate president Sandro Rosell for attracting the player to the Camp Nou despite the ferocious competition. It is commonly known that Los Blancos had been chasing the player for years, to the point that the player even underwent medical examination back in September 2011 when his transfer to the Spanish capital seemed imminent.

Since the departure of Pep Guardiola, the Catalans' game has progressively become more vertical, making passing transitions from defence into attack shorter than in previous seasons in attempt to create gaps in rival defences by surprising them while regrouping. This more incisive approach has enabled Barcelona to score prolifically but, unfortunately, also caused far too much defensive fragility when dispossessed.

Under Tito Vilanova, Messi has been given even more freedom to focus solely in attack, passing the responsibility to press defensively in the rivals' final third to other forwards, such as Alexis Sanchez or Pedro Rodriguez.

Personally, I just don't see Neymar being forced to constantly chase his marker to recover possession either, so it would be up to the coach to ensure the rest of the team remains committed to apply relentless pressure across the pitch.

While the Brazilian shouldn't be totally exempt of defensive responsibility, it is clear the club has invested this much money, time and effort to sign a forward capable of unbalancing games up front, and as such his talent shouldn't be wasted chasing defenders.

If Barcelona can work as a unit to overcome such potential barriers, I am confident that the arrival of Neymar will ensure the club can continue to build in recent success.

No time to waste

The Blaugrana board must now turn their attention to enhance the squad even further by signing a reliable centre back to partner Gerard Pique and find a replacement for run-away goalkeeper Victor Valdes. While improving the team's attack is obviously important, so is the need to reinforce the back line with quality players who can secure their place in the starting lineup from the moment they join the Camp Nou giants.

Given the fact that Thiago Alcantara's buyout clause has decreased from 90 to only 18 million euros due to the manager's inability to grant him the required 60% of playing time this season, ensuring the La Masia graduate remains at the Camp Nou has also become a major priority. Losing the player after such a careless blunder would be unforgivable.

If the above conditions are all favourably met, there would certainly be no reason to doubt that the team could once again be in a position to challenge for glory at both domestic and European level next year.

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