The FIFA World Player of the year poll between the managers and captains of the FIFA associated countries will be closed in November, and so the best player of the year in 2014 will be decided. Ronaldo has made strides all year long to be crowned for the second consecutive time, Messi had a decent enough World Cup to be back in the running, but theres a third player whos been trying to get in the mix in the last few months, and its none other than Neymar.
The Brazilian has finally flourished into the reality he was destined to become, despite the ups and downs of his first season in Europe.
Neymar was an important piece of Tata Martinos Barcelona last year, but not the crucial player his price tag –still to be determined, but well over the 100 million euro mark– would suggest he had to be.
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However, towards the end of the season, he started to break out of his shell and by the time the Brazilian World Cup rolled around he had nicely fit into the all-star character every fan of the Canarinha expected him to be.
His performance in Brazil was by far the best news of Luiz Felipe Scolaris team, as it gave a glimmer of hope to a team that was devastated after their elimination of what was supposed to be their tournament.
That month in his home country seemed to transform Neymar, who returned to Barcelona to prepare the new season while recovering from the spinal injury sustained against Colombia. On his mind there was just one goal: to finally become one of the top talents in Europe.
The first few months of the competitive year could not have been any better. His coordination with Messi up top for the blaugranas has grown by leaps and bounds, he is currently the teams top scorer, and with Brazil he has continued to show a tremendous technical and emotional prowess.
Neymar has been the star of Dungas new revamped Canarinha during the FIFA date, as the Brazilians steamrolled past Argentina and Japan.
In the Super Clasico, Neymar had one of the best plays of the match, but was not able to get on the scoreboard. Still, he was the man of the match –tied with Tardelli, who scored both goals for the Scratch– and became the true leader of a team that is desperately in search of one.
But then against Japan Neymar made the big splash. He scored the four goals of the 4-0 in the win over the Blues, and with it made a clear statement on the road to conquering this years FIFA Ballon dOr.
Since this competition is ultimately decided through voting, moments like Neymars against Japan are actually very important when deciding the award. Just like Ronaldos performance against Sweden last year in the qualifying playoff to the World Cup was key for him to win his second Ballon dOr, big spotlight hogging performances near the final days of the poll are key in this situation, and Neymar may just have made himself a huge favor.
Theres no saying if this will be enough for the Brazilian, as Ronaldo has been consistent enough throughout the year to also merit the award, but Neymar has the underdog advantage going for him –and a few big moments to be remembered by.
With El Clasico just around the corner, Neymar will have the perfect opportunity to put the cherry on top to a magnificent personal closing of the run to the Ballon dOr. Then again, Ronaldo and Messi will have the chance to do the same on that game and thats some tough competition for the Brazilian.