When Luca Caioli writes a book about a player, it is not your average biography. What you can expect is a well written, well researched look at his subject. His most recent book Neymar looks at this young superstar with a thoroughness that shows his development into arguably the best Brazilian soccer player of his time. It is not a book of statistics or, at the other end of the scale, a fan piece. Instead, it is a beautifully written, comprehensive look at a player on the rise.
With all the books out now that look at Brazil and its development of the game, this book moves along a different line. It starts with the genesis of the Brazilian game, but quickly moves on to examine soccer through the lens of a single player.
The book looks at how the game has moved into the future and how that future seems in the hands of its greatest contemporary star. Regardless of your opinion of Neymar as a player, Neymar as a book will tinker with those feelings. Caioli doesn’t hide any facts, from the histrionics to the transfer controversy, but he does place Neymar within a context that allows us to more fully understand the player and the person.
Neymar Jr., or ‘Juninho’ as he is sometimes called, has a lot of expectations to live up to in the World Cup. Already linked on the field with Lionel Messi at Barcelona, and as importantly linked as a huge talent with both his teammate and with Christiano Ronaldo, Neymar’s performance will be scrutinized by the world. Fans, players and coaches will be looking to answer questions regarding his maturity, his ability to deal with the pressure, and how much playing at Barcelona has changed him.
If Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar represent some kind of trinity, then Neymar embodies the side that is more ghostly, hard to pin down, the spirit of poetry.
“In a time when no one believes a poetic tradition exists and that it is disappearing even in Brazil due to a tendency to play football prose, along comes Neymar,”Caioli quotes Jose Miguel Wisnik.
“Neymar at that time did the ginga movement” said Roberto Antonio dos Santos remembering the six year old player. “Leaving etymology to one side, ginga is something magical; something Brazilians have in their blood from birth: a gift, an innate talent for movement, for dance, for football, for shimmying, for dummying opponents on the football field. It is the spirit and identity of Brazilian football.”