Tuesday Kickoff: Martino backs goal-starved Neymar; Ribery named France POY; and more

Tuesday Kickoff: Martino backs goal-starved Neymar; Ribery named France POY; and more

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Tuesday Kickoff: Martino backs goal-starved Neymar; Ribery named France POY; and more

NeymarBarcelona2-Ajax (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

With all the pressure that comes with being the star of the Brazilian National Team and a €57 million signing by Barcelona, it’s understandable to expect that Neymar would pick up the scoring slack while Lionel Messi misses time with injury.

But the 21-year-old winger hasn’t been banging in the goals at the same rate that he did for Santos or the Brazilian National Team, while Barcelona lost two matches in a row, at Ajax and at Athletic Bilbao. The team rebounded last Saturday with a rout of Cartegena, but it left Neymar with just one goal in his last eight games for Barcelona. His manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino isn’t worried though and says that the goals will come soon enough.

“When we analyze a player, we always do it in all of what it means to the player,” Martino told Diario AS at a press conference on Tuesday. “No player is analyzed only for the goals scored, but for the work he does for the team or assists (he makes). (Neymar) is a player that fills all facets of the game. Yes, he has had trouble scoring but the goals will come. This is not a goalscorer with the characteristics of Leo making it easy in front of goal, but he can provide a goal as does Alexis, Pedro and Cesc.”

With Messi out injured and Cesc Fabregas suspended for Barcelona’s final UEFA Champions League group stage match at home on Wednesday against Celtic, it’s expected that Neymar could start as the center forward in the front three.

Here are some more stories to start your Tuesday:

RIBERY NAMED FRENCH PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Franck Ribery was named to the FIFA Ballon d’Or shortlist on Monday and he added to his already burgeoning silverware collection on Tuesday with his latest honor.

Just three weeks after helping lead France into the World Cup via a 3-2 aggregate victory over Ukraine in the UEFA qualifying playoffs, Ribery has earned the honor of France Football Player of the Year. The Bayern Munich midfielder has played the best soccer of his career in the last 12 months, winning the Champions League, Bundesliga, and German Cup last May, and starting the 2013/2014 season with Bayern on an incredible undefeated run.

The 30-year-old former Marseille player scored twice for Bayern last Saturday, taking his total to 11 goals in all competitions.

BARCELONA COULD REMODEL THE CAMP NOU

Apparently, having the biggest stadium in Europe isn’t big enough for FC Barcelona.

With recent news of a major project to improve Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Barcelona confirmed on Tuesday that the is looking into either increasing the stadium capacity to 105,000 or building a new 105,000-seat stadium. It isn’t clear where the location of the new stadium would be. The new stadium would have a roof for all fans in attendance.

Club spokesperson Toni Freixa said that a decision on the stadium would be made in January. Barcelona have played in the Camp Nou since 1957. At one time, the

QUICK KICKS

Manchester United have re-ignited their interest in Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder. (REPORT)

AS Roma have been given the go ahead from ownership to offer a contract extension and a raise to midfielder Miralem Pjanic. (REPORT)

Arsenal are targeting Ajax forward Davy Klaassen, who has been compared in Holland to Dennis Bergkamp. (REPORT)

Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara has claimed that moving to Germany was the best decision of his life. (REPORT)

Celtic have banned 128 fans after causing more than £10,000 pounds worth of damage in the team’s 5-0 victory at Motherwell. (REPORT)

Queens Park Rangers have inked Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun to a contract through the end of the 2013/2014 season. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Feel like Neymar needs to score more? Think that Ribery was the best French soccer player over the last 12 months?

Share your thoughts below.

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