This may be the most hyperbolic statement of the season but with each passing game Scott Sinclair is looking more and more like Barcelona’s Brazilian star Neymar Jr. Clearly the Englishman is not nearly as talented as Neymar but there are more than a few passing similarities.
Let’s start with the obvious. Both are right-footed players who operate on the left-hand side with a penchant for cutting inside and curling shots into the far corner. Both have bags of skill and relish in turning on the style, earning rapturous applause from the crowd.
While these shared traits are easy to spot, what makes me liken the pair is the manner in which they influence games. Neither at any point holds any desire to control the tempo of the game, to constantly have their hands holding the marionette’s strings. Instead they are content to bide their time, to hold their position on the flank and when the moment is ripe, when the opportunity presents itself, they strike – rarely failing to deliver.
During the 2014 World Cup, referencing the much-maligned Brazil side, South American football expert Tim Vickery said “This Brazil team do not beat you on flow, they beat you with moments”. So often it was Neymar who provided those moments, with vital goals against Cameroon and Croatia standing out.
And while Celtic do control games with an anaconda’s suffocating constriction, Sinclair rarely is essential in the build-up play. Instead Scott Sinclair is more akin to a cherry on top of the cake. This is evidenced by his goal record; nine goals in nine separate games.
His form since making the move north of the border has been sensational, to the point he is surely the leading contender for the various player of the year awards (despite Brown’s resurgence and Dembele’s brilliance). It is perhaps the starkest example of how a manager’s faith and respect can completely revolutionise a player’s ailing career.
Sinclair may not quite be Celtic’s answer to Neymar, but at the very least his metamorphosis is another example of the stellar work continuing to be done in the “Rodgers Revolution”.
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