Brazil is home to some of the most sensational talents football has ever seen. One of the best players produced by Brazil in the 21st century is none other than Paris Saint Germain attacker Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior.
Neymar has been a household name in football since his arrival on the European stage in 2013. After over a hundred goals and numerous trophies, there is no doubt that Neymar has cemented his place as one of the best attackers currently playing in Europe.
Whether it is from his clever dribbling skills or his precise shots, Neymar can be a threat anywhere anytime. However, are you familiar with his position? Is he more suited as a fast-paced winger or a traditional striker?
The following will be a complete guide to Neymar’s position and how he evolved into the fearsome attacker he is today.
Neymar by the numbers
|Appearances and Goals For Club
|Paris Saint Germain
Appearances and Goals For Country (excluding friendlies)
Santos: Letting the World Know
Just like numerous Brazilian legends including Pele, Robinho, and Pepe, Neymar is a product of Santos youth academy. He was recruited by the club in 2003 when he was just 11 years young.
While Neymar did have the chance to do trials with European giant Real Madrid when he was 14 years old, his father decided to keep Neymar in Brazil with the Santos youth team, which turned out to be an important decision for Neymar’s future in world football.
Neymar made his professional debut at a relatively young age of 17 years old. He was subbed on in a match against Oeste which Santos eventually won 2-1 on 7 March 2009.
He scored his first goal the following week against Mogi Mirim and later scored a crucial winner against rival Palmeiras in the semi finals of the 2009 Campeonato Paulista.
Neymar was mostly played as a left winger in Santos. However, he was given the freedom to roam around the penalty box. He scored 14 goals in his first season playing 48 games for Santos.
Attacking from the left, Neymar’s goal never fails to showcase either his pace or simply his deadly instinct at the frontline. Neymar showed just how skilful he is when he scored his incredible solo goal against Ronaldinho’s Flamengo in 2011, which won him the FIFA Puskas Award.
Barcelona: Forming the Legendary MSN
MSN (Messi-Neymar-Suarez) is a legendary attacking trio known as one of the most feared attacking force football has ever seen. Of course, it all started with Messi who first joined Barcelona years ahead of Neymar and Suarez, but Neymar’s arrival was a crucial step to the birth of the MSN partnership.
Neymar’s transfer from Santos to Barcelona was filled with controversy as FIFA’s investigation stated that his transfer fee was €86.2 million instead of the reported €57.1 million.
Neymar hit the ground running with Barcelona. He contributed 9 goals and 10 assists in his first season, playing as a left winger under Argentinian Manager Gerardo Martino.
The following season, Suarez arrived and this marked the beginning of the MSN trio. At the same time, Luis Enrique was appointed as Barcelona’s manager and was responsible as the man behind MSN.
Suarez’s arrival means he is placed as the number 9 while Messi filled the right-hand side with Neymar on the left. Along with Messi, Neymar often finds himself cutting to the middle, opening up space for Luis Suarez to attack the penalty box.
During attacking scenarios, Neymar would often be covered by fullbacks Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto, who are always ready to deliver crosses to Neymar, Suarez, and Messi.
Paris Saint Germain: Leading the Frontline in Paris
Neymar shocked the world when he made a record-breaking move worth €222 million to Paris Saint Germain in 2017. Despite yet again another controversy regarding his transfer, Neymar managed to make his debut on 13 August 2017, contributing a goal and an assist in PSG’s 3-0 win against Guingamp.
Under a PSG squad with Kylian Mbappe and prime Edinson Cavani, manager Laurent Blanc placed Neymar in his original position as a left winger. Up to this point in his career, it is safe to say that Neymar is more of a winger instead of a striker.
While Neymar occasionally filled in the number 9 role in absence of Edinson Cavani, it was not until 2020 when Cavani left PSG did Neymar start playing more frequently as a striker.
Under German manager Thomas Tuchel, Neymar was often played as a striker switching back and forth with fellow attacker Kylian Mbappe. Despite an injury-filled season in 2020, Neymar still managed to score 9 goals in 18 games, averaging 1 goal in every 2 games.
Currently still playing for PSG, Neymar has been reunited with former Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi.
Under manager Christophe Galtier, Neymar is back at his original position of left winger, playing with Messi on the right while Kylian Mbappe stays upfront as the number 9.
Neymar has played 17 league games so far, scoring 11 goals and 10 assists as PSG looks to secure another Ligue 1 title in the 2022/23 season.
Neymar started his career as a pacey left winger with incredible skills on the ball. Throughout his career playing for 2 of the best clubs in Europe, Neymar proved himself as a versatile attacker capable of playing from the wing and on the centre as a striker.
As applies to many other attackers in modern football, it may not be suitable to fit Neymar in just one position. However, considering how he spent most of his career playing from the left side, it would be fair enough to conclude that Neymar is more of a left winger instead of a striker.
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