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.”
If this review focuses on the poetry of the Brazilian game, it is because Luca Caioli has written yet another biography that sings on the page. Well worth reading before the World Cup, it will add depth to your understanding of a player and through him, the game at which he excels.
Also, new from Luca Caioli is book titled Neymar, Messi, Ronaldo, which looks at the lives and development of these three players. Caioli has written separate biographies for each of these stars, and is certainly up to the task of comparing them.
This is not a rehashing of those books with the best spots lifted from their pages, but a book that is new and different. Each chapter profiles a particular aspect of the players: their birth, the role of their fathers, their lives as fathers, and reminiscences of their first coaches.
Use Neymar, Messi, Ronaldo as a reference point for the three separate biographies rather than as a replacement for them. You can fill up on appetizers, but you should remember the main course. Let this book whet your appetite, but remember that the real meal is in the excellently prepared biographies of each of these players.