Three successive league titles. Three Best Player in the Brazilian League awards. 121 goals in 199 games. It’s safe to say Neymar is one of the biggest talents in the world. Since staring his career as an under-17 international, the Santos forward has gone on to score at every level for Brazil and currently sits on an impressive record of sixteen goals in just twenty-five games. And one other thing.
He’s only 20.
Footballing legend Pele described Neymar as ‘better than Messi’ and when asked if Messi was the best player in the world, Pele responded “’Well, he has to be better than Neymar first, which he isn’t yet. He has more experience.” (Daily Mail)
However, as much praise as the 5ft 9in striker gets, there are also some doubts about his credibility due to the standard of the competition he faces. With the top European clubs annually competing in the coveted Champions League and with England, Spain, Germany and Italy constantly topping the world league charts, maybe the time has finally come for Neymar to bring his talent to Europe. And right up there, willing to pay the very highest transfer fee, is Manchester City.
Spending £930m (Telegraph) to transform a mid-table side to genuine title contenders have seen the blue side of Manchester hold bragging rights over their rivals Manchester United. Since the 2011/12 league title went to Roberto Mancini and his side, high-profile players have become more enticed to play for the champions of England. And what’s stopping Neymar?
In a recent interview, according to TuttoMercatoWeb, when quizzed about the possible acquisition of the Brazilian wonder-kid, Mancini seemed humble in his response. “”I read that Barcelona are buying Neymar – you read on Sky Sports – but I do not know whether true. What I do know is that at the moment is a still a player of Santos and I do not know what to decide to do in the future.”
With City arguably struggling in the Premier League and Champions League, after poor displays against Ajax and West Ham, is Neymar the man to turn their fortunes around? With Samir Nasri, James Milner and David Silva operating on a better scale through the middle, aside from Scott Sinclair, the Citizens lack real width in their play. Neymar not only has natural ability to take on opponents on the wing, his passion to cut inside and torment central defenders is what earns him goal after goal in Campeonato Paulista.
Manchester City have a bottomless pit of money to spend and matching Santos’ price-tag of £45m, would this give the Premier League champions the edge? Undoubtedly Neymar is going to be one of the best talents of all-time but the step-up to a bigger stage is a necessity. Will the stage be sky blue?