While each individual attacker in recent years at Barcelona has been recognised for their unique ability, there is no doubt that Lionel Messi, has been, currently is and perhaps always will be the standard bearer for any striker who plays for the club.
And even a player as exceptionally talented as Neymar has had to move on in order to emerge from the constant comparisons to the Argentinian. Moving on from La Liga was also a necessary step in the player’s pursuit of the Ballon d’Or as outside of the Barca bubble, Cristiano Ronaldo is yet another player the former Santos man is overshadowed by in Spain.
In France, he will be the most talented attacker in the country – and if he can prove himself both domestically and with his new teammates in Europe there is every chance he could challenge for the ultimate individual prize, the Ballon d’Or, at the end of 2018.
Speaking to the BBC after the announcement of his arrival in the French capital, Neymar discussed how at Barca he would always come second to the Argentine’s genius.
“Any player playing next to Messi will always be second. Messi for me is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, and I respect him, I admire him.
“It was an honour to be playing next to him for the last four years.”
Now free from the weekly comparisons to his former teammate, Neymar can focus on making himself the best he can possibly be in his new surroundings.
Whether those surroundings are lavish enough for a Ballon d’Or award to come his way remains to be seen but there’s no doubting the 25-year-old will be in the discussion either way.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena