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One of the biggest talking points in football is not about ‘if’ but ‘when’ Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior will make the move to European football. Neymar just didn’t arrive on the football scene, but exploded after debuting for Santos in 2009. Neymar has already appeared for Santos on 102 occasions and amassed an incredible 54 goals, all before his 21st birthday, which he celebrated last Tuesday. He is a player with vast talents, blinding speed and the fine skills of a micro-surgeon when dribbling and shooting.
Former players and commentators alike have heaped him with endless praise and expectation. Not surprisingly the class clown of football, Joey Barton savaged Neymar on Twitter during and after the England v Brazil friendly this week by tweeting “I wouldn’t pay the £40-50 million they’re asking for Neymar. Not a chance.” #showpony. Geez tell us what you really think Joey. The issue for Neymar thus far in his career is that he plays in South America and the coverage of his games consists of snippets and grabs or YouTube footage showing only his highlights. As we all know games aren’t highlight reels, but 90 minutes plus of blood sweat and tears.
For Neymar to develop further as a player he ultimately needs to test his wares in the fishbowl football world that is European football. Whether it be La Liga, EPL or Bundesliga, the competition is intense and high quality. The big names and reputations are on the line each week as well as the opportunity to play in the many cup clashes or the lucrative UEFA Champions League competition. To have honor of being a great player bestowed upon you it’s not just competing at the highest level but dominating.
Neymar will go to a club that has fine traditions of success and management excellence. The front-runner is said to be Bayern Munich, who recently announced that Pep Guardiola would be at the helm next season. The thought of Neymar up front with the likes of Muller, Robben and Gomez is a frightening prospect. The challenge for Guardiola….Does he stick to the German way? Or does he try and bring his own La Liga style by starving oppositions of possession and ultimately open up the holes in the defensive line to deliver the fatal blow? I’m guessing it will be a smooth morphing of styles, but having the young Brazilian’s speed up front could accelerate his transition process considerably.
Other speculation is that he may move to the lucrative, yet top-heavy La Liga competition. Barcelona isn’t exactly starved of talent with the likes of Messi, Iniesta, Fabregas and Pedro, but their talent ranks are beginning to see the signs of ageing so an injection of youth (not Botox) could be the solution. Real Madrid is also in the equation, but with all the speculation on Jose Mourinho’s possible departure back to the Premier League, Neymar may chose follow “The Special One” when he decides what his club suits his needs.
In the days of massive contract signings and record transfer payments, the endless cattle trading continues. For Neymar he will no doubt command massive Euros or Pounds Sterling in reaching a deal. In a sport that careers can live or dry up with a simple stroke of the pen, I think Neymar won’t just follow the promise of riches far beyond the imaginations of many. His decision should be balanced not by the debits and credits on his bank account but the need to improve as a player along with the chance of playing in a world-class club competition and tasting Champions League success.
The mail is that Neymar will hold off on a move to Europe in favor of staying in South America until after Brazil’s hosting of next years World Cup. For now stories of his possible signing will dominate podcasts, football websites and twitter until he is seen in his new club colours.