Neymar at the heart of diving accusations at Barcelona
Neymar claims diving accusations directed towards him have done little to upset him. The Brazilian forward has played down criticism that he dives. Instead, the former Santos player prefers to focus on how quickly he has settled down between Barcelona ranks.
Neymar has come under intense fire for diving. The “tumbling” saga came under the spotlight this week when Celtic manager Neil Lennon accused Neymar of overreacting to getting by his skipper Scott Brown.
Brown was given the marching orders with a red card for the kick on Neymar in the Champions League group stage game. Consequently, Barcelona went on to win 1-0 over a resilient Celtic side.
Former Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho also got involved in the diving saga. The Portuguese boss described Neymar’s behavior as “disgraceful” and complained to the European bodies to take immediate action against diving.
The effects of the diving incident were seen in Barcelona’s 4-1 win over Real Valladolid on Saturday night. Match referee Fernando Teixeira refused two clear penalty kick appeals from Neymar.
After the game Neymar told reporters that Barcelona should have been awarded both penalties, but he accepted the fate and realized the referee must have been mistaken.
“Both were clear,” Neymar said. “But everyone makes mistakes, that is part of football.”
Meanwhile, Valladolid manager Juan Ignacio Martinez commented on penalty incident by suggesting that Neymar was a player with exceptional caliber and talent, but with “just one defect that I am not going to say”.
Neymar’s response to Martinez’s statement was shrouded with innocence. Neymar said he will try to pick up on the good Martinez has said.
“I do not know what means by that, but I hope it is something good. If it is I will listen closely to what he says,” Neymar said.
The 21-year-old Brazil international scored his second La Liga goal againt Real Valladolid. Neymar thanked teammate Alexis Sanchez for being unselfish and providing him with a number of goalscoring opportunities.
“Today, Alexis could have scored three goals but he preferred to give me an assist,” Neymar added.
Neymar enjoyed a more central role in the attack in the absence of Barcelona’s crown jewel Lionel Messi. Neymar told reporters that he was happy with a good performance and the opportunity to help his team.
“I just want to help the team, in whatever position,” Neymar said. “I do what [coach Gerardo] Martino tells me. He decides. For Santos and Brazil I have played where I played today. I am happy to have started the season well and to be helping the team. For me that is the most important.”