Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior has, ever since the age of 17, been dazzling the world with his unbelievable trickery and flair.
His progress over the last few years has been such that he has had comparisons drawn to the greats of Ronaldo and Messi with Pelé describing him as "more complete than Messi or Maradona". But do these allegations of greatness bear any truth and if so can they be justified?
Neymar, like Pelé, has progressed through the Santos ranks and, like Pelé, has made an impression from an early age although his style of play is more similar to that of Garrincha with his astonishing dribbling skills and pace a particular highlight of his game.
Neymar has been the star in a Santos team, winners of the Copa Libertadores and runners up in the FIFA Club World Cup, much the same way as Messi and Ronaldo are of their repective teams. He is the image of his national team much like Messi and Ronaldo and is supposedly the "most marketable player in the world".
Neymar can play wide and in the centre for his team and his style of dribbling lies midway between that of Messi and Ronaldo. He has the flair of Ronaldo, that is sure, but also the close control of Messi which allows him to run past players with such ease. Standing at 5'9" Neymar is exactly in the middle of Messi and Ronaldo height-wise allowing him to move quicker than Messi and his lean physique making him more manoeuvrable than Ronaldo on and off the ball.
Looking at his statistics Neymar does not reach the same goal per game ratio as either Messi or Ronaldo but is still a very prolific forward. He is Santos' most prolific striker of the last 20 years with 95 goals to his name in his three and a half year spell there. Neymar averages just over a goal every two games and will need to improve that if he wants to be considered the best in the world.
Looking at the national side Neymar is one of the first players on the team-sheet and unlike Messi is able to keep up his club form for Brazil as seen in performances against Scotland in March 2011 when he announced himself to the world outside Brazil.
Neymar still has a long way to go to be the best as, recently, his attitude has been criticised but also his alleged below par performances away from home for the national team where heis just 'an ordinary player'.
However Neymar is only 23-years-old and I'm sure is yet to show all he can do and with a big-money move on the cards this summer, supposedly to Barcelona, he may be able to show Europe that he can rival the modern greats.
Finally, if he were to go to Barcelons, although he would have to adapt to the tiki-taka way of life, it would be close to a perfect fit. Barça need a striker and Neymar has a point to prove and if this deal goes through expect not only Barcelona to reclaim their place as 'the best in Europe' but also Neymar to excel at a higher level for both club and country.
Whatever happens, we can expect a big future for this player and also a big World Cup in his native Brazil.
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