Neymar has filled the headlines recently for all the wrong reasons. After an excellent season in Barcelona, the Brazilian was hoping to build on that with an strong Copa America campaign, but his title aspirations were cut short by a four match ban picked up in a frustrating performance in the Group Stage match against Colombia. A ban that has already ended his season and sent Neymar to an early vacation, as a result of which he will be able to join FC Barcelona for the team's summer tour.
Speaking of Barcelona, Neymar's improvement on the club circuit was well noticed by pundits and fans alike. Neymar had an underwhelming first season in Barcelona last year. He struggled to stay healthy, he wasn't connecting with his teammates on the pitch and all too often he tried to do everything himself. This season Neymar took a massive step in the right direction. While he still lost possession far to often for my liking, he managed to cut down on his turnovers by 1.5 per La Liga game, as evidenced by the stats provided to us by SportsMatrix.
As you can see, Neymar has improved in just about every important attacking category, which led to more playing time for the young Brazilian. He more than doubled his goal scoring output, though he did miss out on a career high in assist, even though he created more scoring chances from less attempts. Neymar also held on to the ball for less time which resulted in less dribbles attempted. While he attempted over three dribbles per game less, Neymar was actually a more successful dribbler this year compared to the last, by 3.4% to be exact.
Perhaps the biggest improvement Neymar made from the 2013-14 season to the 2014-15 season was in front of goal. While many, me included, still believe Neymar can be very wasteful in front of goal and that there is still room to grow, Neymar was actually much deadlier this season, as roughly 7% more of the shots he took went to the back of the net. Neymar did take more shots this season, but the percentages paint a clear image that his finishing improved.
As I've said above, at the age of 23, Neymar can still improve, which should be a cause for concern for every team facing Barcelona, but the Brazilian already made a large step in the right direction during this season. The sky really is the limit for Neymar, but the deciding factor of his ceiling just might be how he develops mentally and how he matures.