Neymar 19 Striker Santos
Reputations are never earned without reason and it’s fair to say Neymar comes with two. The first is the player, the talent, and the blinding and tantalising potential of the next Brazilian superstar striker. Brilliant on the ball, naturally confident to the point of playing with a swagger, capable of the genuine moments of unexpected brilliance that really make this most potent of marquee players shine brighter than others. To put it simply, Neymar can be outrageously good.
The second is the temperamental, surly teenager - prone to overly dramatic on pitch displays of mock outrage and anger usually only found when watching a certain Real Madrid superstar. Rumours that he is difficult to manage with an ego running wild surfaced early in his professional career and have persisted. Petulant red cards for elaborate celebration and the direct mocking of officials are par for the course. You feel when watching him, Neymar is comfortably the best player on the pitch, the problem is that he knows it and the game comes all to easily to him.
So it seems, with the talent comes the baggage. In truth the drama has been exaggerated, while he courts the limelight with *that* hair and the take anyone on mentality, Neymar is already living in the football bubble and his every move makes headlines the length and breadth of Brazil and beyond. Constant speculation surrounding his future has done nothing to dent the ego, with Real Madrid and Chelsea retaining long-term (and persistent) interests, Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City, Internazionale, AC Milan and FC Anzhi Makhachkala all asking to be kept informed of developments surrounding his future. Neymar is not the best player in the world yet, but he is definitely the hottest property.
Despite the constant speculation, Neymar and Santos reached agreement on a new contract in November, with a pay rise bringing him in line with Europe’s top players, and hope that he will stay in Brazil until at least the 2014 World Cup. This might prove to be the key decision of his entire career as we suspect a transfer to Europe now would do him no good in the long term. Plenty have made the move in a blaze of glory and seemingly with the world at their feet but for every Romario or Ronaldo, there is a Denilson moving to Betis and never fulfilling his potential. Neymar is a special talent, staying in his home country and with his family could well serve his development far better than Madrid or Chelsea’s millions.
Will Neymar fulfil his potential? He has and is giving himself every chance and let’s be honest, that potential could end with him finally challenging Messi at the top of the best player in the world lists. The ego and the arrogance are part of the package and help make the player, let’s hope he can keep them in his game but eliminate them from the man.....but then, it never really did El Diego too much harm did it?
“What to say that hasn't already been said? The most promising young player Brazil has produced in recent years, Neymar seems destined to become a superstar. With such natural talent, few would begrudge him that” – Jack Lang (Snap, Káka and Pop!)
“Outstandingly talented, slightly temperamental. Loves to play left-of-centre, opens his body as if to curl into the far corner, then cut it back inside the near post” – Michael Cox of Zonal Marking
B Stay where you are and come the World Cup in 2014, you could be the best player in the world.