The criticism of Neymar’s style of play is nothing new. The Barcelona superstar is one of the most skillful players in football, and he likes to display his qualities against any opponent, and that annoys a lot of people who don’t think he’s supposed to dribble and “showboat” against the opposition when his team is winning.
Lots of current and former players and managers have spoken against Neymar’s style, the latest being Blaugrana legend Michael Laudrup, who criticized the Brazilian for showing off his skills during last weekend’s 5-1 victory against Leganés. Laudrup is just one more to join the “I Hate Neymar’s Style” bandwagon, but there are those who defend him.
Neymar’s coach Luis Enrique has done it multiple times, but two other big-time La Liga managers spoke in favor of Neymar. And they are Barça’s biggest rivals in Spain right now.
“I cannot watch inside Neymar’s head, but I don’t think it’s a provocation. Everyone interprets football as they see fit and he interprets it his way. And he does things that not many players can do. I don’t see it as him provoking [his opponents].”
Zinedine Zidane, source: FourFourTwo
“Neymar is an extraordinary player. He won the Olympic Games after being criticised in Brazil following the first two games. He’s found his place in Barcelona to express his talent. Neymar has that way of playing. Everyone has their style. I love it. Neymar sings, dances and destorys. He speaks where he has to — on the pitch.”
Diego Simeone, source: Diario Sport
Those are the managers of Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid defending Neymar even though he plays for rival Barcelona. Sure, you wouldn’t expect both of them to go and trash-talk Neymar, but their answers are not just media training. Both Zidane and Simeone are very honest when talking to the press, and they were two very different types of players who were exceptional in their own ways. They know how to appreciate greatness, and Neymar certainly is great.
I’m sure Simeone would kick the hell out of Neymar and Zidane would love to play with him, but there’s one thing they wouldn’t want him to do: change.