Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are gone, and if there is ever a better chance for Neymar to finally fulfil his dream of winning the Ballon d'Or, it is now, by inspiring Brazil to the World Cup title.
Quite often, in a World Cup year, players who make a major impact in the tournament get the nod for the player of the year awards.
While Ronaldo and Messi will remain in contention, regardless of their country's early World Cup exits – they had outstanding club seasons for Real Madrid and Barcelona – a brilliant run of four knockout matches from Neymar might just swing those votes his way and end the duopoly of the two superstars.
However, for that to happen, Neymar will need to cut out the drama and theatrics and just get on with the game.
At this Fifa World Cup 2018, Neymar has looked more concerned about feeling sorry for himself than actually putting on performances on the pitch, which is why the quieter and more unassuming Philippe Coutinho has outshone him in this tournament so far.
If Neymar is to get the fans onboard – not the die-hard Brazil ones, the neutrals and the ones who just want to see some good football, rather than a soap opera starring the PSG forward – he needs to forget about the drama and just get on with the game.
Will Neymar get fouled in the last 16 game against Mexico? Yes, he will, but then so do other players of his stature and below, and they don't go crying and moaning about it to the extent Neymar does.
Will Neymar be targeted by the Mexico players? Maybe, but that doesn't give him a right to complain, complain and complain and wait for the referee in the tunnel to complain some more.
Will Neymar end the game with a few bumps and bruise?. Quite possibly, like most players nowadays. However, most of them don't go clutching their head, after a slight tug on the shoulder.
When you have the talent that Neymar has – and nobody can dispute that – the rest of the drama is not necessary. If only he would get on with the game, use that talent of his for Brazil's good and lead them to the quarterfinals, then he will be on his way to being a serious contender for the Ballon d'Or and Fifa's Best awards.
However, if he decides continuing the shenanigans of the group stages remains the better strategy, then, well, he will be a part of a few more memes, with Ronaldo and Messi not only having the moral high ground, but a better case for the awards as well. Because, the more Neymar concentrates on the perceived injustices, the more he will forget about playing football, being effective, scoring some world-class goals and leading Brazil to the World Cup title.
Hopefully, the no-fuss, let's-get-on-with-the-game Neymar comes to the party in Samara on Monday.