The protracted transfer of Santos and Brazil’s flamboyant forward Neymar came to a closure recently when he formally joined Barcelona for a reported transfer fee of $75 million on a five-year contract. Even though Barcelona had made a down payment of $13 million a while back, with the view to completing the transfer after the 2014 World Cup, Real Madrid were lurking, and Barca decided not to take chances, completing the transfer a year early, and in the process stumping-up a further $22 million for the earlier-than-scheduled move. Reportedly, an eye watering $248 million buyout clause has been inserted into his contract, indicating Barcelona won’t suffer fools gladly.
So much has been said and written about Neymar in footballing terms, and there is huge expectation given his talent and potential. It’s almost forgotten he’s an upstart, and just 21 years old. Soccer has no mercy for talented youngsters, and Neymar will have to hit the ground running when he hooks up with Barcelona. Somehow I doubt the player will be phased by all the attention and cacophony. From his hairdo to his playing style, he cannot be classed as a sporting prude. Neymar has extraordinary talent, and the potential to rival the true greats of the game. A multi-functional forward, he can play as a striker, winger, false nine, and the fantasy number 10 position. I guess that makes him Cristiano Ronaldo, Johan Cruyff, Zinedine Zidane and Diego Maradona all rolled into one. His technical prowess and dribbling skills are outrageous.
Tension Or Vision:
Dutch Legend Cruyff said that having Messi and Neymar in the same team is like having “two captains on the same ship,” to which I beg to differ. Messi is the indisputable captain of the ship, and nerve center of the team. Neymar knows all too well, and would have been briefed for good measure. Here is what he said when he signed:
“Barca are more than a club and a great team and I want to help Messi continue to be the greatest player in the World.”
There are three reasons why Barcelona have pulled off a master stroke:
1. They pipped rivals Real Madrid to Neymar.
2. They have a player of direct similarity to wrestle with Ronaldo, and
3. From a tactical viewpoint, Neymar is a player to generate a lethal cutting edge to the team’s attack from the left, right, or through the middle, making Barcelona stronger in attack than they were last season.
References have been drawn to the 2009 signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic; the tactical and personal issues that ensued in the dressing room owing to the presence of two primadonas. This is a different case. Neymar is playing the supporting role, and Messi has already cemented his place as a Barca legend. As Neymar would say, it’s “an honor” and Messi is the “best.”
The optics on this incredible transfer is that Neymar would seek to bed-in to the Catalan culture and spirit, as well as assimilating the gist of Barcelona’s tactical and conceptual approach, which may mean altering his individualism to some degree, possessing the ball for shorter spells prior to a pass, and playing in tandem with Messi. His immediate brief will be about navigating these immediate challenges, and once done with the required hard work, humility and professionalism, would be a launching pad for a successful career at Barcelona.
Neymar has the potential to be talked about like Messi in the future. He scored 136 goals in 225 games for Santos in three years. It takes a special player to lead Brazil’s attack, like he’ll do in the 2013 Confederations Cup and FIFA 2014 World Cup. If all of these elements conflate for the young Brazilian, and Barcelona give him adequate protection and nurturing like they did with Messi, he will go on to emulate the greats of the club and his beloved nation Brazil.