The past year has been a very difficult one for 29-year-old Paris Saint-Germain striker and the Brazilian national team Neymar. A football player who was destined to be included in the cohort of the greatest players of all time has not yet reached such a status. For example, in the poll to determine the winner of the 2021 Ballon d’Or, Neymar took only 16th place, gaining a miserable 9 votes of respondents – this is 68 times less than the winner of the award, friend and teammate of the Brazilian Lionel Messi received.
In 2021, Neymar was again plagued by injuries. Because of them, in total, the Brazilian spent about 130 days in the hospital, that is, for more than a third of the year, the striker was unavailable for playing football and training. Therefore, it is not surprising that he was almost forgotten when identifying the best player on the planet …
However, the Brazilian has far-reaching plans for the current year. Neymar is currently recovering from an ankle injury and is expected to return to the pitch by the end of this month. In particular, already in the next cup match with Nice, which Paris Saint-Germain will hold on January 31, Neymar may be, if not in the starting lineup, then at least in the application with the prospect of being replaced.
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Health is a fundamental aspect on which all Neymar’s hopes are built. If injuries leave the Brazilian alone, then he will probably try to take almost the last serious breakthrough in his career in order to still become the best football player on the planet. And even though Neymar periodically states that winning the Golden Ball for him is not of fundamental importance, the very fact of the Brazilian’s so often appearing statements on this topic rather suggests the opposite. In the end, even the saying goes that the soldier who does not dream of becoming a general is bad …
What Neymar is really right about is that winning the Ballon d’Or in itself is not something like an objective reflection of the merit of this or that player before the game number 1. Fans of Robert Lewandowski, who longed for their idol to win the prestigious award in 2021 , let’s not lie that sometimes in the survey everything is overly subjective, which is why more and more dark spots fall on the reputation of this individual trophy.
But what Neymar will definitely try to work with his team to the maximum is to win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The Brazilian national team shows itself superbly in the selection for this tournament, having won 11 victories in 13 matches of the South American qualification and 2 more draws. Selesao have already guaranteed themselves participation in the final part of the 2022 World Cup, although the selection in South America will officially end only on March 29.
It is absolutely not surprising that the Brazilian national team will be considered one of the favorites for the upcoming World Cup, which will be held in Qatar from November 21 to December 18. By this period, Neymar has a car of time to get in shape and approach the World Cup in the best possible condition – if only, again, injuries bypass the Brazilian.
The bet on the 2022 World Cup will be special for Neymar also because the striker will turn 30 in early February. Therefore, during the next World Cup, which will be hosted by the USA, Canada and Mexico in 2026, the Brazilian will be already 34, and at this age, given the “chronicle” of the player’s injuries, he will be very not easy.
Neymar himself is well aware of what is happening, and at the end of last year he made it clear that he considers the 2022 World Cup as the last serious tournament in the Brazilian national team. “I think this will be my last World Cup. I don’t know if I have the strength and spirit to continue playing football. Therefore, I will do my best to win the World Championship. Then I will realize my biggest childhood dream,” said Neymar.
2022 should be a landmark year for Neymar in the national team also for the reason that the striker is close enough to break the record of the greatest Pelé in terms of the number of goals scored for the Selesao. At the moment, Neymar has 70 goals scored in the national team, and Pelé has 77 (according to other sources – 95, but not all of them are officially recognized by FIFA, which explains such a discrepancy in numbers). In the public plane, the Paris Saint-Germain striker tries to practically not mention the record factor, because he does not want to be considered an arrogant fool who swung at the achievement of Pele himself, but if Neymar still succeeds in surpassing the “King of Football”, then they believe in the environment of the football player that this factor will bring forward to a new level of honor in Brazil.
Despite frequent health problems and a not the best period in his career, Neymar is now second in the list of scorers in the South American selection for the 2022 World Cup. The Brazilian striker has 7 goals scored, which is more than Lionel Messi (6), Lautaro Martinez (5), Luis Surez (5) and other local stars. Surprisingly, only ex-Shakhtar striker Marcelo Moreno (9 goals), who plays for modest Bolivia, whose chances of playing at the 2022 World Cup look very, very modest, scored more than Neymar in qualifying in the CONMEBOL zone.
But in general, the situation for Neymar in terms of key achievements in 2022 is very favorable. Paris Saint-Germain will almost certainly reclaim the French title after reclaiming the title after last year’s sensational foray to the top by Lille, as the Parisians currently have an 11-point lead over second-placed Ligue 1 side Nice. . For this reason, PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino is unlikely to risk Neymar’s health, giving the Brazilian the opportunity to calmly enter into an intense training and game rhythm.
In the Champions League, the Parisians have a more difficult task, because already in the 1/8 finals they will face Real Madrid, who have made a good move in La Liga and are ready to take their 35th Spanish title. However, the first game between the French and the Spaniards will take place on February 15, and before that date, Neymar will have time to prepare in order to create maximum problems for the Blancos defense together with Messi and Mbappe. On the other hand, if PSG get to the Champions League final and take the trophy by knocking out opponents like Real Madrid in the process, then this will significantly add Neymar’s whists in the fight for the Golden Ball in 2022.
The final part of the 2022 World Cup will have to be the “highlight” of the year for Neymar and a tournament where you will definitely need to give everything to the maximum. The striker simply may not have another chance to become a world champion, so all the tournaments preceding this competition will a priori become a kind of warm-up for Neymar, and the “main performance” of the star, still trying to get to the key peak, should be expected already in Qatar …