Neymar could have stolen the hearts of fans from any of Europe’s top clubs before he decided on his move to Barcelona in 2013.
The forward arrived in Spain as the most highly-regarded player in south America, after also gaining the interest of the likes of Chelsea and Real Madrid.
And the 25-year-old has proven that any of Europe’s elite clubs would have been wise to fork out huge sums to have signed the then 21-year-old who had made a name for himself at Santos.
Neymar is now one of the most widely recognised players in world football and amongst the very best.
However, despite his inevitable move to Europe several years ago, it was clear it would take something very special for the Brazilian to swap his homeland for a big move to Europe.
Chelsea and Real Madrid could have both given the young forward a lucrative offer and the chance to make a name for himself to a global audience. But it was Barcelona he chose.
Los Blancos fans’ envy
No doubt, deep down, Los Blancos fans have some envy in the fact that their greatest rivals pipped them to Neymar’s signing.
The forward has helped the Catalan giants to two La Liga titles to Real’s one, in the time Neymar has been at the club – including a Champions League success in 2015.
But Neymar’s former agent, Wagner Ribeiro, has revealed his success at the Camp Nou could quite easily have been a totally different story.
Real president Florentino Perez revealed last month how Neymar had passed a medical at the club, but Ribeiro has explained why he didn’t make a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Why Neymar chose Barcelona over Real
“I sent offers from Chelsea and Real Madrid to Santos,” Riberio told UOL Esporte, per Goal. “The one from Barcelona went directly to the father. I wanted him to go to Madrid, I always said it.
“Economically, it was a better offer for Santos and even better for the player. But he decided to go to Barcelona because they were the team of his heart.”
Little more than a year later, Suarez joined him at Barcelona; forming arguably the world’s most deadly and famous attacking trio of himself, Neymar and Lionel Messi – dubbed the MSN.
And Barcelona are no doubt rubbing their hands together with delight that the Brazilian went with his heart, which has seen both the club and player enjoy plenty of success in the past four years.