Luis Enrique tells critics to lay off Neymar’s showboating skills: ‘We enjoy it a lot at Barcelona’

Former Barcelona and Real Madrid midfielder Michael Laudrup criticised Neymar for displaying his full range of tricks towards the end of Barca’s 5-1 thrashing of Leganes on Saturday.
Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar, right, and teammate Luis Suarez arrive before a training session at the Sports Center FC Barcelona Joan Gamper in Sant Joan Despi, near Barcelona on September 20, 2016 Josep Lago / AFP
Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar, right, and teammate Luis Suarez arrive before a training session at the Sports Center FC Barcelona Joan Gamper in Sant Joan Despi, near Barcelona on September 20, 2016 Josep Lago / AFP

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique says Neymar’s skills should be enjoyed rather than criticised after the Brazilian’s penchant for showboating once again came under the spotlight.

Former Barca and Real Madrid midfielder Michael Laudrup criticised Neymar for displaying his full range of tricks towards the end of Barca’s 5-1 thrashing of Leganes on Saturday.

“Ney has his own style, a style I think is spectacular for football. We enjoy it a lot at Barcelona,” Enrique said ahead of on Wednesday’s home game with Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou. “There are many players that interpret football like that.

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“It is a cultural thing more common in South American and particularly Brazilian players,” added Enrique.

“It is something that shouldn’t surprise anyone in Spanish football. He has been doing it since he got here.”

Neymar’s style has led to bad-tempered clashes with Atletico in the past. However, Atletico manager Diego Simeone claimed he is a big admirer of Neymar.

“Everybody has their own style and way of playing. He is a player that I love,” Simeone said.

“They have criticised him, but he enjoys himself, he dances, he sings and he destroys you. They can keep criticising, but he keeps responding as he has to.”

Both sides come into the game in free-scoring form after scoring five at the weekend.

However, Enrique said he believes Atletico will revert to type when they travel to Camp Nou and rely on their watertight defence to try and hold out against Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

“Many teams now defend deep against Atletico and give them the ball, so they are obliged to play more in tight spaces. I don’t expect that against us,” Enrique said.

“They can press high or, without doubt, they are the best team at defending close to their own area. That explains the complexities in playing against Atletico Madrid.

“They are one of the best teams and clearly a contender for all the titles as always in Simeone’s reign.”

Barca’s two wins over Atletico in the league last season proved decisive in the title race as Simeone’s men finished just three points adrift in third.

However, Atletico had their revenge by eliminating Barca in the Uefa Champions League.

“There hasn’t been an easy game against Atletico Madrid in the past few years,” Enrique said. “They are a direct title rival and these are three very important points.”

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Published: September 20, 2016 04:00 AM

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