He’s 17 years old, a winger/striker, Brazilian, plays regularly for Pele’s former club Santos, has scored fourteen goals in the past season and is being chased by Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, AC Milan, Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Neymar is his name and it may well be the name on the lips of football commentators for many years to come.
Whether or not the player would actually move from Santos to Europe in January is difficult to ascertain. His club Santos have slapped a value on the player purported to be in the region of £20m, but so far the player himself remains unconvinced that the talk over a move to Europe will actually come to fruition;
“I only know what is being said in the press, nobody has spoken with me about a possible transfer, and for saying the truth, it’s not in mind the idea of leaving Santos,” said Neymar.
“I haven’t been thinking of a move to Europe.
“I really don’t know what is happening and why it said that many European teams are interested in me because here in Brazil nobody has approached me and even the club hasn’t told me anything.
“Personally the only thing that I am thinking about is in giving my best to Santos and working very hard for next season as I would like to have a better season.”
Despite claiming that he wishes to remain in Brazil for the time being, the Brazil U17 star is likely to attract interest from Europe far sooner than he would expect. Already there are rumours that Real Madrid have paid the players agent Wagner Ribeiro, to secure option rights on the player until 2011. However, that rumour is countered by the fact that the players club have secured image rights and a contract for the player until 2013, meaning that they will have any final say on if and when the player moves.
So what is all the fuss about? Neymar has been dubbed the “new Robinho”, which sounds a little harsh as it won’t presumably mean that he is going to earn a big money move to Europe, earn a huge amount of money sat in the stands injured a large part of the time and only be bothered to play to his best when fit, in home games or when he knows the TV Camera’s are there, while all the while trying to engineer a move to a club he sees as bigger and better. Some Brazilian’s critics have also labelled him the “new Pele”, which happens to at least thirty Brazilian youngsters every year and is more an indictment of the boorish nature of lazy Brazilian journalism than it is an appraisal of Neymar’s potential ability, some of which you can see for yourself in the videos below;
So will Neymar be the latest South American addition to the Premier League? He certainly looks like the finished article and for £20m, most clubs are going to expect an instant return on that outlay (unless you are Rafa Benitez of course). So while he’s good, he may not be worth the gamble just yet, but I would not rule out the possibility of something happening in the summer and the possibility of Manchester City replacing the old Robinho, with the new one.
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