As Neymar prepared for his first World Cup in Brazil in 2014, the media buzz around his figure was immense.
He moved from Santos to Barcelona as one of the most promising young players in the world. And he made an early impression at the Catalan club, quickly earning himself global star status.
The oft-repeated question at the time was when – and if not – Neymar would be crowned the best footballer in the world.
However, eight years later things have changed a lot. The Brazilian is one of the world’s top players, but he has failed to fully live up to the expectations raised by his high-profile move to Europe.
Neymar lost visibility after his arrival at Paris Saint-Germain in 2017. It has been a while since he was last picked for the player of the year award.
His World Cup performances for Brazil have been disappointing since 2014, when he was stretchered off in the quarter-finals with a back injury.
At Russia 2018, Neymar bent down on the pitch and looked on in disbelief as Belgium’s players celebrated their victory over Brazil in the round of last eight.
He was key to Brazil when they won the gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, an achievement that was celebrated across the country and received widespread acclaim.
But ahead of the World Cup in Qatar at the age of 30, the questions being raised about Neymar are a bit different.
Did you make a mistake leaving Barcelona for PSG? Is he getting overshadowed by Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe? Have you passed your prime?
But the only question that matters to Neymar is whether he can lead Brazil to their first world title in 20 years.
Neymar said earlier this year, ‘I don’t want this cup to slip away from me. “I don’t want to let this opportunity slip through my fingers. I am doing everything possible to prepare myself physically and mentally. Right now this is my biggest dream. I am focused on winning this title.”
This year’s World Cup could be redemption for Neymar and if he finds a way to lift Brazil to the title in Qatar, it is likely that his name will once again top the prize list.
Neymar said in a virtual chat with former Brazilian midfielder Diego Ribas, ‘I would give my life for the World Cup. “It’s a unique moment. I’ve been to two World Cups and I know how it works. Everything happens very quickly and if you’re not 100%, if you’re not ready, the opportunity slips away.” Slip out.
Neymar, who confessed as a child that his dream was to be the best player in the world, has stood out again this season and is one of the leaders of a PSG team that hopes to win its first Champions League.
He comes into the World Cup – which he didn’t rule out being the last of his career – as one of the best-in-shape players around.
“It flies right now,” admitted Brazil coach Tite.
Neymar has been apparently unfazed by the recent transfer fraud trial from Santos to Barcelona in 2013. He and his father are accused of concealing the actual amount of the transfer.
Despite some of the charges being dropped, the player could be jailed for up to two years if convicted.
Of course, Tite is counting on the 10 to lead Brazil in Qatar with the hope that his talent – and now more mature – will eventually make the difference and give the team a chance to win their first World Cup since 2002 . , when Neymar was 10 years old.
And hopefully, for Brazil, instead of leaving the field on a stretcher like in 2014 or watching opponents celebrate like in 2018, Neymar ends his World Cup career lifting the trophy for his team and his men.