Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has defended Neymar’s “provocative” style of play and labelled the Barcelona attacker a crowd pleaser.
The Brazil international has drawn the ire of opposition players in the past, notably parking a brawl in last season’s Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao with a piece of skill late in the 3-1 win.
However, Zidane believes fans come to the stadiums for players like Neymar, even if he has acknowledged the former Santos man’s actions can be frustrating for opponents.
“Is Neymar’s style provocative? I cannot say too much about it. It’s just the way he plays,” the Madrid coach said at a news conference.
“Some people like his style, others don’t.
“I can understand that his opponents don’t like it when he fools about too much on the pitch, but the way he plays certainly brings a lot of spectacle. The fans love players like Neymar.”
The 24-year-old has managed to combine show with efficiency this campaign and has been in sublime form for Barcelona, scoring 21 goals in 28 appearances in all competitions.
His superb performances for the Catalans have seen him linked with a move to arch-rivals Madrid in recent months, who supposedly see the Brazilian as the ideal long-term replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Sergio Ramos recently hinted that Neymar would be welcomed with open arms at the Santiago Bernabeu if he were to move to the Spanish capital, but Barcelona remain confident of holding on to the tricky forward, with head coach Luis Enrique stressing he is confident the attacker will sign a new contract at Camp Nou.
Neymar’s existing contract with Barcelona runs until June 2018.