Barcelona: Barcelona striker Neymar may have sent the crowd into raptures with his first hat-trick in the UEFA Champions League to help his side on the way to a 6-1 thrashing of Glasgow Celtic on Wednesday but coach Tata Martino believes the young Brazilian needs to take the weight off his feet.
Neymar showed his pace and skill with a well-taken hat-trick on a night he was simply too hot to handle for the Celtic back line and afterwards the forward said he was happy to play where asked and to do what he could to help the cause, reports Xinhua.
However, perhaps mindful of the long year Neymar has had, which included joining Barca after helping Brazil to the Confederations Cup this summer and his big money move across the Atlantic, Martino wants to rest the striker.
"Neymar has had a very difficult year," he said, looking back at the youngster's achievements with his former club and his country.
"Because of what he did at Santos, because of his move, because he was a key player at the Confederations Cup, because he didn't have a pre-season and because of the travelling he has done with the Brazil team," highlighted Martino as the reasons why Neymar was "crying out" for a rest.
"For him, the season isn't at the halfway stage, it's at its end, and he's crying out for a rest. We hope we can give him that rest. Hopefully he comes back in good shape after Christmas," said the Barca coach.
However, with two league games remaining before the end of 2013 and Lionel Messi still recovering from a muscle problem, it looks unlikely Neymar will get that rest before Dec 21, indeed, he could find himself leading the Barca attack from a more central position, rather than out on the left wing.
"It depends what shape he's in, how he responds on and off the pitch," said Martino, who added that Neymar's hat-trick had come while he had theoretically been playing in a wide role.
Martino expressed his satisfaction with a good passing display from the entire team commenting it was one of the best the team had produced since he had arrived over the summer.
He did, however, admit that Celtic had been weak rivals, given that they had no chance of progressing in Europe, while Barca must now wait to see who they face when the draw for the knockout stage is made this Friday.
"The only advantage to finding out who we face now is that we can prepare well. But we have to turn our attention to La Liga and the Copa del Rey. We've done what we had to do in the Champions League. Now we have to wait," he commented.