How Neymar has progressed year-by-year since making his Santos debut
It felt slightly peculiar to watch Barcelona run riot against Eibar on Sunday afternoon without Neymar completing the world’s finest frontline, but there is still plenty to celebrate for the 24-year-old at the start of this week.
The Brazil international was suspended for the trip to the Ipurua Municipal, but Luis Enrique’s side did not feel his absence too much as his replacement Munir El Haddadi opened the scoring.
Further strikes from Lionel Messi – twice – and Luis Suarez ensured a comfortable 4-0 win and also meant that ‘MSN’ have now netted 100 goals between them for the Catalan club during the current season.
While Neymar was not present in the Basque Country this weekend to celebrate on the pitch, the focus is on him today as he clocks up a special anniversary.
It was on this day – the 7th March – back in 2009 that the fleet-footed forward made his debut for Brazilian giants Santos as a 17-year-old in a 2-1 win against Oeste.
We’ve decided to analyse each campaign Neymar has taken part in to highlight the rather enormous strides he has taken over the last seven years.
Goals (all competitions): 14
Neymar’s breakthrough season was not the most memorable of ones, but for a player who had just turned 17 a month before his debut and couldn’t even fill his jersey, it was certainly an impressive one for him personally.
The forward made a total of 48 appearances across all competitions for Santos and found the net on 14 occasions. He was just getting warmed up.
Goals (all competitions): 42
Now 2010 was a fascinating year for Neymar in the Brazilian Serie A, as he showcased the qualities in his locker during a stunning campaign.
The tricky forward had a number of memorable moments – he netted 17 times and registered 12 assists in the league – but undoubtedly his five goals for Santos in an 8-1 battering of Guarani in the qualifying stages of the Brazilian Cup was the big one.
Neymar, who was given the award for the best player in that competition that season, ended the 2010 season with an impressive 42 goals in 60 games across all competitions. Unfortunately, issues with diving and a fall-out with captain Edu Dracena dominated the papers.
However, the board stuck by Neymar and while the manager wanted to fine Neymar two weeks for his argument with Edu in regards to a penalty incident, it was the boss who got sacked and thus Neymar took his confidence up a notch.
Goals (all competitions): 24
A step backwards? The following season was not as prolific as those prior for Neymar, but he still managed to help Santos to success.
Santos faced Uruguayan side Penarol in the 2011 Copa Libertadores Final – a competition Neymar finished as the joint-third highest goalscorer in – and the forward netted in the second leg of the showpiece, as Santos won the competition for the first time since 1963.
Neymar was awarded a new contract extension shortly after, but it was then that his worth started to propel to enormous heights.
Neymar won the 2011 FIFA Puskas Award for scoring a sensational solo goal in Serie A against Flamengo and he then the 2011 South American Footballer of the Year. Interest was beginning to grow.
Goals (all competitions): 43
Neymar scored his 100th goal as a professional football player in early 2012 and went on to finish the campaign in fine fashion in that department.
The talented forward also won the 2012 South American Footballer of the Year, retaining his award and winning it ahead of Brazilian legend Ronaldinho.
However, Neymar also suffered heartache, as Barcelona – incidentally – beat his Santos side in the FIFA Club World Cup at the end of 2011.
Goals (all competitions): 13
It was the end of the road for Neymar in 2013 and ahead of his last match for Santos in May that year against Flamengo, the forward was in tears during the national anthem.
Neymar netted a total of 136 games across 225 matches for Peixe, but the time had come for him to make his dream switch to Europe and to Barcelona.
Goals (all competitions): 15
Neymar made his competitive debut for Barcelona during the opening game of the 2013/14 season as a substitute for Alexis Sanchez in a 7-0 win against Levante.
The Brazil international featured in 26 La Liga matches and netted nine times for the Catalan giants that season, with a further six coming across other competitions.
Neymar’s creativity also caught the eye after he produced 41 chances in the top-flight, while grabbing eight assists in La Liga.
Goals (all competitions): 39
Undoubtedly Neymar’s finest season to date was the treble-winning campaign under Luis Enrique in the last term.
The forward was helped by the arrival of Luis Suarez and alongside Lionel Messi, Neymar was – and still currently is – one-third of possibly the finest frontline of the current generation.
Neymar netted 22 La Liga goals in 33 appearances last season – only Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi outscored him – while he also netted a hefty 17 goals more across other competitions.
2015/16 so far
Goals (all competitions): 23
Neymar has taken last season’s form into the current campaign and despite playing just 35 games until now, he has netted a hefty 23 goals across all competitions.
18 goals in 24 La Liga matches is an interesting angle, but Neymar has also produced a remarkable 77 chances in the top-flight – more than any other player in La Liga this campaign. Neymar also has 10 assists to his name, with Luis Suarez (12) the only one who can better that in the Spanish league.
Goals: 46 goals
Neymar was selected for the first time in the Brazil senior team by Mano Menezes for a friendly match against the United States of America back in August 2010.
The forward made his debut with the national team in that game, aged just 18 years old, and netted during the 2-0 victory.
Since then, Neymar has represented his side at the Olympics, in two Copa Americas and, of course, the 2014 World Cup on home soil. It was the latter tournament which Neymar really announced himself as the ‘Poster Boy’ for the tournament, but a cruel back injury hampered his progress and Brazil’s as a result.
Over the last six years Neymar has accumulated 69 caps for his country and netted a remarkable 46 goals. Pele is the country’s top goalscorer with 77 and with Neymar just 31 away from that figure at the age of 24, it is fairly certain the Barcelona man will make history for the Selecao.