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If You Don’t Like Neymar’s Showboating, Then You Can Get Out

Michael Laudrup was a sensational playmaker for Juventus, Barcelona, Real Madrid and the Denmark National Team during his extensive playing career. Lauded as one of the greatest players of his generation, Laudrup earned his fame as a phenomenal passer of the ball.

His style of play translated directly into his managerial philosophy. As coach of Swansea City, Laudrup proclaimed: “You can’t ask players to do things that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are doing, but you can ask the easy things. Sometimes the easiest things in football, a simple pass five or eight yards, can be the most effective. That everybody can learn.” 

Apparently, Laudrup doesn’t believe Neymar is capable of doing anything apart from simple, quick five or eight yard passes either. During Barcelona’s 5-1 battering of Leganes, Laudrup offered this scathing assessment of Neymar’s performance on BeIN Sports: “Why are you taking the ball across your own half? You’re provoking the opposition.”

He made these comments in the first half, later adding: “At 0-4 you can’t be showboating and provoking your opponents.”


It’s not the first time Neymar has been told to quell his aggrandizing style, particularly with his side well ahead. However, that style and panache is inextricable from Neymar’s game. 

When discussing why he’s elected to prolong his contract with Barcelona, Neymar’s said: “It’s hard to see how three rival South Americans can get along as we do. But we have an affinity in attack. The joy we feel when we play together increases the magic.” 

Joy, expression, skill and attack: these are the buzzwords that have typified Neymar’s play since his Santos days.

The demonstrable truth that some people just can’t handle a display of skill and technique in a spectator sport, to the delight of millions of spectators, is simply ridiculous. 

Neymar plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. For those who enjoy the defensive side of the game, take solace in the fact that he gets kicked to smithereens almost every match day.

So Neymar’s style of play goes against the ethos of Laudrup. His Swansea City side played a commendable possession-based, passing focused game, but they ultimately became toothless in attack. Over the course of Laudrup’s 84 matches there, he won only 29 matches while his side scored 1.3 goals per game.

Dribbling, beating a defender and trying s*** is how you unbalance a defense. When you take the ball past a player, it ruins the shape and organization of even the most highly drilled side. It’s a skill that’s rare and should be rightly praised.

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone: “[Neymar] has found in Barcelona the right place to express his talent. Everyone has their own style and their own way of playing. He has been criticized, even in his personal life. He enjoys himself, sings, dances and destroys teams. They can keep criticizing him, the kid responds where he must respond.”

Not convinced? Here’s Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane: “I am not inside Neymar’s head but for me, I don’t think it’s a provocation. Everyone interprets football as they see fit and he interprets it his way. He does things that not many players can do.” 

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique offered this defense: “Ney has his own style, a style I think is spectacular for football. We enjoy it a lot at Barcelona. There are many players that interpret football like that. It is a cultural thing more common in South America and particularly Brazilian players. It is something that shouldn’t surprise anyone in Spanish football. He has been doing it since he got here.” 

Leganes' own manager, Asier Garitano, leapt to Neymar’s defense: “He is a very talented player…For me, these players with this talent, this ability are always welcome. It’s beautiful.” 

At 24 years of age, the Neymar ‘Skill Show’ videos have many, many years left to run. If this displeases you and you’re looking for something more in tune with your tastes, you’ll be happy to learn that David Moyes is back in management up in Sunderland.  

Follow me on Twitter: @ConmanFleming

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