Neymar the Heir to Ronaldinho’s Barca Crown

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With a goal in Barcelona’s win over Eibar, Neymar reached 94 for his club equalling his compatriot Ronaldinho’s haul for the Blaugrana.

Both Brazilians have won two La Liga titles and the Champions League with the Catalan giants but at just 24 years of age, Neymar is set to eclipse Ronaldinho Gaucho’s achievements at the Nou Camp.

Ronaldinho joined Barca from PSG in 2003 and scored 94 goals in 207 appearances. Neymar, in his fourth season in La Liga, has equalled that amount in 164 games.

In his second season at Barcelona, Neymar scored an incredible 39 goals, followed up with 31 last season and has 9 so far this campaign. Of course, Barca were not the same force as they are today when Ronaldinho arrived at the club but his influence saw them clinch a first league title in six years. A year later, they added the league and Champions League double.

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Neymar has one European Cup to his name but his side are among the favourites to land the crown again this season with betting sites like M88 sport, while he is many punters’ third favourite to win the 2017 Ballon d’Or. He also has two Copa del Rey titles and one FIFA Club World Cup compared to Ronaldinho’s two Spanish Super Cups.

Neymar was twice named South American Footballer of the Year in 2011, the same year he won the FIFA Puskas award, and 2012, and was voted in third place in the 2015 Ballon d’Or behind Messi and Ronaldo.

Ronaldinho was twice the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2004, and 2005, and won the Ballon d’Or in 2005. Of course, he was also a World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002 while Neymar captained his country to the Olympic gold medal in 2014, scoring the winning penalty on home soil.

“Perhaps if Neymar hadn’t come to the fore at the same time as Lionel Messi, it might be the younger Brazilian challenging his Barca teammate and Cristiano Ronaldo for the title of the world’s best player. As it is, he is many people’s choice as third on that list, for now.”

When Messi first arrived on the scene, Ronaldinho was holding centre stage in Catalonia. On May 1, 2005, Samuel Eto’o was subbed for a diminutive 17-year-old as Barcelona hosted Albacete at home. Within minutes Ronaldinho had directed an outrageous flick into the path of a young Leo Messi but his exquisite chip was ruled out for offside.

A minute later, this time an almost identical move saw the Brazilian set up the Argentinian for his first ever Barcelona goal. From that day on, Lionel Messi has mesmerised the football world as Ronaldinho, with his cheeky grin, had done before.

Today, Ronaldinho’s legacy at Barcelona has been revived by Neymar, who at least got the chance to line out in the same team when the ageing star was recalled to the Brazilian side under Philip Scolari in 2013. Neymar first pulled on the Canarinho shirt at age 18 going on to in the Confederations Cup before injury cruelly ended his involvement in the home World Cup in 2014. While the current Selecao is rated nowhere near as highly as previous sides, Neymar did achieve what his predecessors couldn’t by winning Olympic gold with the national U23 team.

Ronaldinho has already proclaimed Neymar as is his heir, with the elder icon previously telling the Barcelona website: “Neymar is a phenomenon. He is the best Brazilian player in the world at the moment. It’s great to see him continue everything we have done before.”

Main image: YouTube

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