Neymar’s new model girlfriend becomes talking point as pressure on Brazil star rises

The Rio Report

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In many ways being Neymar must be incredibly fun with his privileged lifestyle, but it cannot be easy given the pressure and scrutiny he is under.

The Brazilian superstar will very soon be carrying the hopes of 200 million people at the age of just 22 with hype surrounding him that we simply cannot fully comprehend.

He is all over the media across the world and his presence in that sense is ubiquitous. How will he handle the extraordinary pressure on his young shoulders this summer?

Every tiny decision he makes becomes a public one - for right or wrong - and big life choices are known almost immediately to the average person.

The fact that Brazilian supermodel Gabriella Lenzi has been identified as his new girlfriend is now very well known and she has predictably been instantly catapulted to superstar status.

Having split from soap star Bruna Marquezine in January the Barcelona forward knew that any relationship he had would be equally high-profile and it has now arrived with the Sao Paulo-born model.

It is, of course, pure speculation to wonder if this relationship will help him to rediscover the form and confidence that he has enjoyed previously in a Brazil shirt, but fans are certainly hoping so.

Neymar's form for Barcelona this season has, at best, been patchy. Is this because he's so focused on the World Cup this summer rather than his club duties or is it a genuine loss of form?

In 2014, he has started 11 games for Barcelona, scoring just three times. Indeed, he has only managed to finish four of those games in less than impressive fashion. These are not glowing statistics for a man who reportedly cost up to £71 million.

Either way, Brazil cannot afford to have their star forward misfiring at the tournament with the world's eyes on him. Can he deliver despite the pressure and the scrutiny?

Every little factor will now be examined in his life, and that includes the new relationship that he finds himself in. We all know that even the top stars find their form and confidence affected either positively or negatively by their private lives.

Gabriella Lenzi on Instagram

So Brazil will hope that Neymar and Lenzi are perfectly matched and that their global icon finds the form that helped launch him to the very front row of world stars.

Eurosport's Spanish football expert Andy Mitten wrote in March that Neymar "remains a happy, smiley clichéd Brazilian footballer" but the pressure is mounting on him.

"Fine, it's still his first season and he deserves time," Mitten wrote. "He didn't negotiate his contract either and can't be blamed for signing it, but those around him might object to teaching someone who earns twice as much as them.

"The jury is still out. Neymar doesn't act like a captain, but he's paid like one."

Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff has been very outspoken about his status and believes he can shed some light on the issues at the club with the Brazilian in the ranks.

"The problem with Barca is Neymar," said the Dutchman, who has lived in Catalonia since 1988, earlier this year. "It's not right that a 21-year-old boy earns more than players who've won everything.

"Barcelona already have the best footballer in the world, but at 21-years-old nobody is god. With 26 years (Messi), yes, but with 21 years (Neymar) no."

It is a huge year for Brazil and it will be incredibly significant in the context of Neymar's career. It has not been a distinguished 2014 so far, but his iconic moments could be about to follow.

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