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Soccer star Neymar explains how Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi saved his career

Barcelona superstar Neymar has a lot of admiration for teammate Lionel Messi.

“Not long after I arrived [at Barcelona], I wasn’t in a great moment in my career and he was a person who helped me,” Neymar told CNN. “He saw that I was sad, with my head down, that things weren’t going right for me.”

Neymar, 24, joined Barca in 2013 after having a successful run with the Santos football club. He had a bit of a rocky start with Barca in finding his form and fitting in with the club. During his first season, the Brazilian forward had only 17 goals in 41 games.

But Messi, 29, encouraged Neymar not to give up and to keep going.

“He told me to relax, to be happy and to play the way I know,” Neymar said of the Argentine star.

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The advice paid off. In his second season, Neymar scored 40 goals in 54 games and last season had 35 goals in 57 games. He’s been more comfortable and deadly with teammates Messi and Luis Suarez. Of course, Neymar thanks Messi for this success.

“He’s a person I admire a lot, for him to come and tell me those things, it was something that really helped me in that moment,” he said.

Barcelona takes on Espanyol on Sunday.

Twitter: @edmgonzalez

eduardo.gonzalez@latimes.com


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