At the pinnacle of soccer, there has long been a debate about who the best player in the world is, with fans around the globe being pretty decisive that it was between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for much of the past decade.
At times the other top players were often left out of this debate, instead being looked at in a discussion at to who the third best in the world was, and at the time that guy was Neymar.
The Brazilian trickster was a real handful during his prime years and was considered to be of the most valuable players on the planet for a while.
Today we will be focusing on Neymar by taking a closer look at the best seasons of his playing career, ranging from his days at Santos and the Nou Camp all the way up to his displays for Paris Saint Germain (PSG).
Here are Neymar’s 7 best seasons in his career.
7. 2010/2011 Season
- Club: Santos FC
We start our list today with the inclusion of a season in Neymar’s career that not all fans may be aware of, yet it was arguably his best in a Santos jersey and was long before he made the move to Barcelona.
The 2010-11 season was a great year for the Brazilian and his club as they made a real impact on the continental stage for one of the first times in their history.
On a successful run to the Copa Liberatores final, Neymar became the influential cog in the Santos side and scored six vital goals during the campaign.
Santos took on in-form Uruguayan side Penarol in the final over two-legs, Neymar was the star of the show in the second match between the two sides and scored the opening goal of the game as well as scooping up the player of the match award.
Perhaps Neymar’s best achievement in a Santos jersey came during this season, as he took home the coveted FIFA Puskas award for scoring the best goal in world soccer that year.
The goal itself was a fabulous solo strike against Flamengo, despite losing the match Neymar’s goal is still remembered fondly by the Santos faithful.
6. 2016/2017 Season
- Club: FC Barcelona
In his final year at the Nou Camp before announcing his big money move to PSG, Neymar wanted to leave the club that turned into the superstar we know today on a high note.
It was a tough start to the campaign, especially in Europe as the club faced a mammoth task of overhauling a embarrassing deficit to PSG in the UEFA Champions League round of 16.
The first leg at the Parc des Princes was a terrible showing from all involved with Barcelona and the fans demanded a response in the following leg of the tie, though did not expect their side to overcome the score line. What came after can only be described as in the realms of a miracle.
Despite trailing the Parisians by four goals, Barcelona rallied and began to claw themselves back into the tie thanks to a couple of early goals.
An Edinson Cavani strike made things more difficult in the second half, yet Barcelona were not ready to go down without a fight.
Neymar truly turned it on in the last 45 minutes of the tie, scoring two crucial goals and assisting another as his team completed one of the most iconic comebacks in soccer history. The match is now referred to as ‘La Remontada’ (The Comeback) by Barcelona supporters.
5. 2017/2018 Season
- Club: Paris Saint Germain FC
Following straight on from the miracle of La Remontada, Neymar made the move across to the team that he had only just eliminated from the UEFA Champions League and one that has the sole objective of one day winning that competition.
PSG paid handsomely for the Brazilian, promising him that he would be the star of the show in Paris.
Before the emergence of Kylian Mbappe or the transfer of Lionel Messi to PSG, Neymar truly was the poster boy of the side and was expected to deliver success to his new team.
In his debut season with the club he hit the ground running, by helping PSG to an impressive domestic treble that saw them win everything France had to offer. Continental success eluded them however as they were beaten by eventual winners Real Madrid in the round of 16.
Despite this disappointment, Neymar still proved his worth on an individual level by closing the season with 28 goals in 30 appearances. If he had not picked up an injury towards the end of the season, this figure would certainly have been higher.
4. 2009/2010 Season
- Club: Santos FC
The first professional year of any players career can be a daunting task as they don’t really know what to expect from the game yet, as well as not truly being aware of their own talent, especially when it comes to playing in Brazil.
The nation is filled with excellent ‘flair’ players that honed their skills on the beaches and streets of Brazil in the hope of one day making it to the very top.
Neymar was no exception to this; however, he made the transition onto the field smoother than anyone else in his generation.
Making his debut for Santos aged just 17, much was expected from the young winger from the outset, and he quickly became a fans favourite at the club.
In his first season, Neymar played 48 times for Santos which as a 17-year-old player will have been as exciting as possible at the time.
He also managed to score 14 goals over the course of the season, becoming a regular in the Santos starting XI from the very beginning.
3. 2019/2020 Season
- Club: Paris Saint Germain FC
In what is now remembered as the ‘Covid season’ by most fans around the world, soccer became something of a welcome distraction to people that had very little else to do at the time.
For PSG and Neymar it represented the best chance they have ever had of finally lifting the UEFA Champions League trophy though.
Domestically it was another perfect season from the Parisians as they once again dominated the country by taking home a domestic treble after the Ligue 1 season was cut short by the Pandemic.
Neymar was focussed on European glory though and set a course for the final in Portugal after the tournament was moved to a neutral venue and treated like a mini–World Cup style competition.
PSG looked strong during their run to the final and despatched with teams such as Borussia Dortmund, Atalanta, and RB Leipzig before taking on the might of a Robert Lewandowski led Bayern Munich.
Despite performing well all year, Neymar could not help his side avoid defeat to the German giants, leaving the club without European success for at least another season.
2. 2015/2016 Season
- Club: FC Barcelona
This period of soccer will be remembered by fans around the world as some of the best times the sport has ever seen, especially in Spain.
Both Barcelona and Real Madrid were at the height of their powers, with their stars equally as impressive on the field.
For Barcelona, they had just come off the back of one of their best seasons ever (more on that later though) and were looking to reinforce their dominance both domestically and on the continent.
Neymar still formed one part of the most deadly attack in the world, alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez who was referred to as M.S.N by the fans (the players in the picture above).
In terms of the goal involvement that Neymar registered this season, he helped contribute 31 goals and 25 assists in one of his best years to date.
This deadly trio up front broke the record for the most goals scored in a single campaign in 2016, breaking the same record that they had set just a year earlier.
While European triumph eluded the club this year, they did still take a domestic double as well as taking the win in the UEFA Super Cup against fellow Spanish side Sevilla.
1. 2014/2015 Season
- Club: FC Barcelona
Easily the best season of Neymar’s career, the 2014-15 season saw him and Barcelona steamroll anyone in their way. The M.S.N strike force was better than any other team could muster up and things looked pretty good in Catalunya at the time.
From a personal perspective, the 2014-15 season was the best that Neymar has had in front of goal up to now as he scored 39 goals playing on the left side of the front three.
In terms of trophies, Barcelona completed a sensational treble thanks to their now iconic leading line.
After wrapping up the league and cup titles with wins over Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao respectively, the focus was purely on the UEFA Champions League and a massive final against Juventus.
Neymar played excellently in this match, delivering the final goal in a relatively comfortable 3-1 victory for Barcelona. This triumph remains the only time that Neymar has lifted the trophy.
This tricky Brazilian winger has had a brilliant career to date, however, if you look at it, he has already established himself as one of the sport’s greats and will be looking to add more individual and team-based success in the future with PSG.
I listed the best seasons of some other all-time greats in these articles: