Skip to content

Is Neymar ready to replace Messi? Dani Alves says definitively “I am sure”

Nov 13, 2013, 2:25 PM EST

FC Barcelona v AC Milan - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

With the summer signing having already scored four goals and contributed a whopping seven assists in eleven matches since joining Barcelona, Neymar is to face his toughest test yet.

The weight of the soccer world will be thrust upon his 21-year-old shoulders, a load so heavy even the $76 million kid has plenty of doubters still.

Lionel Messi, the four-time reigning Ballon d’Or winner, is facing a long-term injury absence on the bench – possibly until the new year – leaving Neymar to fill the biggest boots the sport has to offer.

The Brazilian sensation has formed a wonderful strike trio up front between himself, Messi, and Alexi Sanchez.  Six of Neymar’s seven assists this season have gone to either Messi or Sanchez.

But now, it will be up to Neymar to slide into Messi’s spot up front for a full six to eight weeks. His teammate and countryman Dani Alves says he was signed – nay, born – for situations exactly like the one he’s currently facing.

“Neymar is always ready,” said Alves. “He knows how important he is for Barcelona. He is aware that he was signed for things like this. With Messi’s injury, someone must take on this role, and Neymar is ready. For his name, and his qualities, he will be this player. I am sure he will give a positive response.”

Having played mostly on the left wing this year, Neymar will be given much less space up front in the middle by opposing defenses.  No longer does the opposition have to accommodate for the world’s best player making slicing runs through their midfield and back line, affording space to the wingers in an attempt to patch up any weaknesses in the middle.

The Brazilian will rely heavily on teammates Cesc Fabregas, Andre Iniesta, and of course Sanchez to feed him the ball, but Neymar will need to create his own space rather than exploit that which has already given to him.

Taking the pressure off slightly is the fact that Messi’s injury couldn’t have come at a better time.  With Barcelona already having qualified for the Champions League knockout phase and a soft patch in the La Liga schedule upcoming, Neymar will have opportunities to shine.  But with that also comes the knowledge that any slip-ups afford naysayers even more reason to criticize.

With the international break upon us, Neymar has time to sit on his new-found role.  However, come November 23rd when Barcelona returns to action against La Liga foes Granada at the Camp Nou, all eyes will be on the 21-year-old, whether he likes it or not.

From the sound of it, he likes it.

Latest Posts
  1. Swansea’s Bafetimbi Gomis stretchered off the pitch after appearing to collapse

    Mar 4, 2015, 3:09 PM EST

    Gomis Getty Images

    Swansea’s French striker carried off the pitch after appearing to collapse at White Hart Lane.

  2. Agent says Dani Alves “in advanced talks” with other club

    Mar 4, 2015, 3:07 PM EST

    463262876 Getty Images

    Dani Alves is all but out at Barcelona, but where will the Brazilian back end up?

  3. Watch Live: Liverpool vs. Burnley (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Mar 4, 2015, 2:28 PM EST

    Burnley v Liverpool - Premier League Getty Images

    The Reds are unbeaten in their last 11 league matches, a run they will look to continue against a Burnley side sitting in the drop zone.

  4. Watch Live: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Swansea City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Mar 4, 2015, 2:16 PM EST

    Swansea City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    Only one spot separates the two sides on the table, giving every point some added value at White Hart Lane.

  5. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Everton (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Mar 4, 2015, 2:15 PM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-EVERTON-QPR FBL-ENG-PR-EVERTON-QPR

    Who will win the battle of the USMNTers. Geoff Cameron or Tim Howard?

  6. Watch Live: Manchester City vs. Leicester City (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Mar 4, 2015, 2:07 PM EST

    Kompany Getty Images

    Can the Citizens keep their faint title hopes alive? Watch live online, here.

  7. Watch Live: Queens Park Rangers vs. Arsenal (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Mar 4, 2015, 2:04 PM EST

    Arsenal v Queens Park Rangers - Premier League Getty Images

    It’s a top-three vs. bottom-three battle as the Gunners travel to Loftus Road to face a QPR side fighting for Premier League survival.

  8. Watch Live: West Ham United vs. Chelsea (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Mar 4, 2015, 2:01 PM EST

    Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Capital One Cup Final Getty Images

    A ding-dong London derby at Upton Park. Can the Hammers derail Chelsea’s title charge? Watch live online, here.

  9. Watch Live: Newcastle United vs. Manchester United (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Mar 4, 2015, 1:55 PM EST

    Manchester United v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

    Can Manchester United keep pace in the top-four, or will the Magpies play spoiler at St. James’ Park?

  10. Sherwood says Villa’s win over West Brom is better than hitting the lottery

    Mar 4, 2015, 1:04 PM EST

    465175576 Getty Images

    “My missus said to me she had done the Euro lottery – a £54m jackpot – but I said I’d take three points all day.”

  11. 2015 MLS season preview: Sporting Kansas City

    Mar 4, 2015, 1:00 PM EST

    Sporting KC logo

    Re-tooled, re-loaded and deeper than ever before, Sporting KC look set for a huge 2015 campaign.

  12. WATCH: Premier League live online via NBC Sports Live Extra – Week 28

    Mar 4, 2015, 12:40 PM EST

    Live Extra

    How to watch all of Wednesday’s games live online or via the app.

  13. Men in Blazers podcast: Chelsea’s Cup, Liverpool’s big win and Mix Diskerud guests

    Mar 4, 2015, 12:14 PM EST

    meninblazers

    Raising the Capital One Cuppity Cup Cup may just be the first title for the Blues.

  14. 2015 MLS season preview: FC Dallas

    Mar 4, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    FC Dallas logo

    “El Profe” is back for year No. 2 in Dallas, and things are looking even better than last year’s successes.

  15. Samir Nasri: I would like to play in MLS

    Mar 4, 2015, 11:39 AM EST

    Manchester City v Sunderland - Premier League Getty Images

    The Manchester City midfielder said he would like to follow in the steps of fellow-Frenchman Thierry Henry and one day play in America.

  16. Top 10 returning players in Major League Soccer for 2015

    Mar 4, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle, Jaime Penedo AP

    Who’s the best from a loaded pack of returnees?

  17. Tottenham hoping to hold Harry Kane out of Euro U21 Championship

    Mar 4, 2015, 10:43 AM EST

    Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Capital One Cup Final Getty Images

    Spurs want their star striker to rest over the summer, rather than compete for the England U21 side.

  18. The Western Conference will continue to dominate MLS, and we all know it

    Mar 4, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

    LA Galaxy, 2014 MLS Cup Getty Images

    West is best, and we all know it. 2015 will be no different that 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and so on.

  19. Wednesday’s Premier League Preview: Seven games in action-packed matchday

    Mar 4, 2015, 9:51 AM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-ARSENAL-QPR Getty Images

    From league leaders to bottom feeders, points are up for grabs all across England today.

  20. Report: Manchester United will not keep Radamel Falcao after this season

    Mar 4, 2015, 8:29 AM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-BURNLEY Getty Images

    With his loan deal up at the end of the season, reports state Radamel Falcao will not return to Manchester next year.