Messi was and still is behind every success Barcelona had in the last 10 years. He was there for the finals, the La Liga derbies and the difficult road to the Champions League titles.

He was always there for Barcelona.

Except when he got injured. That is the main difference between Messi and Ronaldo. When Ronaldo gets injured, R. Madrid needs to replace him with a world-class striker. But when Messi gets injured, Barcelona can only hope for the best.

At least that was the case until Neymar arrived.

Now they have two players with the same skill set, and replacing Messi is easier. When he arrived, Neymar was just a kid with a lot of tricks up his sleeve. But things have changed now, and he has improved a lot.

From a kid that likes to dribble, now he is a player that can carry the team on his shoulders. Neymar’s growth is amazing. He no longer has the habit of losing the ball or going into a pointless dribbling. He scores, he assists, and he can cope with two or more players marking him.

He is the future of Barcelona.

Messi is not getting any younger, even though he’s improving every year. When Messi retires, Neymar will be in his prime. He will finally become the king of Barcelona, and carry Barcelona to more success and football domination.

He already had the chance to replace Messi as the main man last season, and he did an impressive job. Now when Messi is injured, he has the same opportunity.

The game against Sporting was the first test, and Neymar scored two goals in a 0-5 win for Barcelona. He had no problem with handling all the pressure. The fans are watching, and the coach is watching as well.

He has to prove to everyone that Barcelona must resist the $100+ million offers to keep him at the club. PSG already tried to sign Neymar this summer, but he picked Barcelona over money.

It’s not just money, but titles and football future as well. Yes, he could be the number 10 at PSG, but will he ever win the Champions League with them?

Even the rivals love Neymar

Both Enrique and Simeone were asked to talk about Neymar, before the game. It was expected from Enrique to defend him, but Simeone praised him as well.

“He has a particular style of play, like everyone else, but I love it,” Simeone said.

“He has been criticised and they have exposed his private life. He has fun, he sings he dances and he destroys opponents. They can keep criticising him. He needs to respond on the pitch.”

Simeone added: “He’s extraordinary. He went to the Olympics and won gold, he has found his place at Barcelona to showcase his talent, he has just come back from holidays and he’s still playing just as well.”

“He has a personality that allows him to do all that, and I love watching him.”

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