The loss by FC Barcelona last Saturday in Liga against Real Sociedad has turned the Barcelona press guard dogs onto the Club, Coach Martino & some players who aren´t living up to "expectations". One of those players is Neymar, under pressure of late with his personal life going through a rough patch due to all the news being generated with his transfer signing & FC Barcelona being investigated by the Spanish Anti-Corruption Agency & Tax Office, plus a niggling injury that has "slowed" him down.
But many "insiders" claim that the shadow of Lionel Messi is long ( & dark ) & is dampening the light of the Brazilian star. The "evil tongues" have been saying for years that the influence of Messi within the Barça dressing room & at the Club is such that many players have had to leave due to his whims, & even a famous Coach. The list goes from Ronaldinho, Eto´o, Bojan, Ibrahimovic & David Villa, apart there have been stories of Messi tantrums with Alexis, Montoya, Bartra & Tello. Even Coach Martino received "evil stare " when he substituted Messi early in the season along with angry gestures as he came off the pitch.
Neymar arrived at Barça with the script well learnt. He spent the first 3 - 4 months publicly saying that Messi was the "Best in the World", that he had come to learn from the "Master" & to help him. He too knew well that it was better to have the Argentine happy on your side than to create a new "enemy" within your own home.
The best Football this season from Neymar was during the period that Messi was far away injured & in Argentina recovering just before Xmas. Here Neymar was free from the "disciplines" of his team-mate, was allowed to improvise more & the team looked at him to fill the gap left by Messi. A responsibility that the Brazilian took on without hassle & even thrived.
With the return of Messi, Neymar has returned to his secondary roll, shut himself more within his Football shell & has not been able to fully contribute & explode all his natural talent. As Ronaldo Nazario has said, Neymar looks like the assistant of Messi.
But what hasn't been said to loud, & some observers are thinking, is that Messi himself has not been up to his level & should also take the responsibility of his teams seasons drop of form. Some say the Argentine is "saving" himself for the upcoming World Cup, the only title he is missing & the one truly needed to make him the "Greatest of all Time". Others believe that we are witnessing the end of Messi at FC Barcelona, that next season the Argentine may take on the speculated "super offer" by Paris St Germain & leave.
The last option would greatly benefit Neymar. The personal praising by Neymar towards Messi has ceased these past weeks, it appears that Neymar has gained sufficient confidence within the dressing room along with a strengthen personality to be himself . The Brazilian recurrently is attempting to shake off his persistent ankle injury & look to contribute more positively to the team. But as ex Barça player, Barça Coach & Football Leyden Johan Cruyff said: "two roosters in the same chicken pen is not good".