"Being in the shadow of Messi had to be complicated for sure" - Former Barcelona coach opens up on how PSG superstars Neymar and Lionel Messi adapted to each other

Juan Carlos Unzue talks about Neymar and Lionel Messi
Juan Carlos Unzue talks about Neymar and Lionel Messi's relationship at Barcelona

Former Barcelona coach Juan Carlos Unzue has shed light on Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) teammates Lionel Messi and Neymar’s relationship during their time together at the Camp Nou.

Neymar joined Barcelona from Santos in the summer of 2013 and quickly struck an enviable partnership with Messi. For four seasons, they were inseparable, combining effortlessly on the pitch and helping the Blaugrana to one Champions League trophy and four La Liga titles, amongst other honors.

Messi & Neymar have combined 31 G+A is their last 8 games 😳.

Unzue, who served as Luis Enrique’s assistant coach between 2014 and 2017, opened up about how the Brazilian forward adjusted to Messi’s stardom at Barcelona. He told El Confidencial:

“Being in the shadow of Messi had to be complicated, for sure . But I think he adapted and accepted that Leo was number one. The success of Neymar and that team was the fact of realizing that together we could win everything. And That's how we did it.

Unzue then talked about how the PSG No. 10 put the needs of his team ahead of his own.

The former goalkeeper added:

“When you eliminate your personal egos and put your qualities at the service of the team, you end up benefiting yourself. And that, Neymar, understood perfectly.
“He was decisive with the ball and helped us when the team had to retreat. We realized that players had to track back while defending and Neymar more than fulfilled it.”

The attacking duo played 161 games together for Barca, combining for 56 goals, before the Brazil international left for the Parisians in 2018. Only Luis Suarez (99 goals in 258 matches) has more joint-goal participation with the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner than the former Santos man.

Former Barcelona teammates Lionel Messi and Neymar have finally found their rhythm at PSG

Messi joined PSG as a free agent last summer, allowing fans to relive his telepathic connection with Neymar. The 2021-22 campaign, unfortunately, was not kind to either superstar, with both struggling to hit top form.

This season, they have finally started looking like their old selves, and PSG fans could be in for the treat of a lifetime. They have fed off one another, stretched defenses with their runs, and have effortlessly swapped positions when needed.

Neymar on Instagram with Lionel Messi: "Idol and friend. 🤟 Thank you football."

Last season, the pair featured in 22 games together, combining for three goals. They have already had two joint-goal participations (five games) this season, and we believe their connection will only improve as the campaign wears on.

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Edited by Sushan Chakraborty
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