With his understanding with Lionel Messi getting better all the time, Neymar is loving life at Barcelona in his second season.
Neymar insist he is having the time of his life at Barcelona and believes his on-field relationship with Lionel Messi is getting better with every game.
Barcelona have endured a turbulent season so far, with speculation surrounding the future of both Messi and coach Luis Enrique, as well as the removal of sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, contributing to a host of off-field distractions.
Nevertheless, the Catalan giants sit second in La Liga, one point adrift of leaders Real Madrid, and Neymar is enjoying every minute.
Neymar – who has scored 14 goals in 17 league appearances for Barca this season – forms part of a menacing South American attacking three, along with Messi and Luis Suarez, and the Brazilian hailed his relationship with his Argentine team-mate.
Lionel Messi scored the late winner as Barcelona defeatedAtletico Madrid 1-0 on Wednesday in the first leg of their Copadel Rey quarter-final.
Following a scoreless first half, Atletico seemed set to hold on for a creditable draw at the Nou Camp. But with seven minutes remaining, Sergio Busquets won a penalty that led to Barca‘s winner.Messi missed the spot-kick but slotted in the rebound in the 85th minute to give Barca a slim advantage heading into the second leg.
Barcelona, who secured their last-eight place with a 9-0 aggregate victory over Elche, started the Nou Camp clash with all-star triumvirate Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, but were thwarted for long periods by Diego Simeone’s Spanish league champions.
Those in the crowd were treated to a fiercely contested cup tie, with tackles flying, but despite the commitment the deadlock could not be broken until five minutes from time as Atletico, who knocked holders Real Madrid out in the previous round, defended resolutely.
Messi smashed a free-kick against the Atletico wall and, as the visitors attempted to clear, Sergio Busquets was fouled in the area and referee Jose Gonzalez pointed to the penalty spot.
Messi’s low spot-kick was parried away goalkeeper Jan Oblak, but the Slovenian could only watch helplessly as Barcelona’s talisman poked home the rebound.
The 85th-minute goal gives Barcelona a slender lead going into next Wednesday’s second-leg encounter at the Vicente Calderon stadium.
Barcelona captain Xavi Hernandez recently sang the praises of teammate Leo Messi and spoke about his side’s return to form following a reported dressing room crisis several weeks back.
Barcelona veteran Xavi says a footballer has no right to be in the game if he cannot find a way to link up with the brilliance of Lionel Messi.
“ If you can’t link up well with Messi, football may be the wrong sport for you. ”
“ Who would I sign? Silva, Cazorla…There’s a lot of quality players in Spanish football that Barcelona could sign. ”
The Argentine ace put some of the speculation over his future firmly behind him with a virtuoso performance for the Catalans against Deportivo La Coruna at the weekend, as he scored a sublime hat-trick in a 4-0 victory.
Xavi’s midfield team-mate Ivan Rakitic linked up superbly with Messi during the clash at the Riazor and, when asked about his own experience of playing alongside the Argentine, he claims it is easy to do so.
“ If you can’t link up well with Messi, football’s not for you. ” he was quoted as saying by Marca.
Xavi went on to describe the late Luis Aragones as one of the most important figures in his distinguished career, with Spain’s tiki-taka style at Euro 2008 borne out of the former Roja coach’s ideals.
“ I’ve learned from all of them [coaches], but it’s true that Luis Aragones left a huge mark on me personally. ” Xavi added.
As well as missing Sunday’s trip to A Deportivo La Coruna, Xavi sat out the La Liga win at the Calderon and both legs of the Copa del Rey last-16 thrashing of Elche because of a calf problem. He is currently training normally and hopes to be passed fit to face Atletico Paranaense in the cup on Wednesday.
Former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola has told Lionel Messi to stay at Barcelona and remain loyal to coach Luis Enrique.
Last week the four-time world player of the year appeared to be as close as ever to a Camp Nou exit after admitting he was unsure where he would be playing his football next season.
Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City have since been linked with a world record move for the forward, who was said to be unhappy at being dropped from the Barca side that lost 1-0 to Real Sociedad earlier this month.
Bayern Munich coach Guardiola told Messi he should appreciate what he means to Barcelona and what the club has given him, both in his professional and personal life. Guardiola also reminded the 27-year-old of the unanimous support he has from everyone at the club, stressing that no other club can show him the same level of backing.
Messi has always listened to those he respects and owes so much of his career to and the sentiments of his former mentor Guardiola have made a real impression on him. The duo won three Liga titles, two Champions League crowns and two club world titles during Guardiola’s four seasons with the club.
Pep insisted that Luis Enrique has what it takes to be successful with the Catalan giants and urged Messi to remain calm and committed to the club, vowing that the upcoming presidential elections would bring to an end what has been a turbulent 12 months or so for the club.
Former chief Sandro Rosell was forced to step down after revealing the controversial financial details of the club’s acquisition of Brazil star Neymar. A two-window transfer embargo was then enforced by Fifa after the club were found to have breached regulations regarding the transfers of under-18 players.
Messi, who does not have a close relationship with Luis Enrique or any of the members of the current board, was relieved to receive the reassurances from his former boss.