Pele scored over 1000 goals in his career, led his national side to numerous titles. Yet, the jury is still out as to whether he really is the greatest player of all time.
At the peak of his glittering career, Pele never played in Europe; as a result there is still an endless debate as to who the greatest player truly is (Pele, Diego Maradona or Lionel Messi). Feels like deja vu, doesn't it?
According to SportsPro Magazine, Neymar is the most marketable athlete on the planet, with Messi ranked in third place. But, what exactly makes Neymar so special? Is he really the next Pele? Could he become even better?
Neymar is one of only four players to have scored 100 goals by the age of 20, with the landmark goal coming on his birthday in a Brazilian league game against Palmeiras. He also won the FIFA Puskas Award in 2011 with a magnificent solo goal against Flamengo.
A list of Neymar's other individual awards include:
Best Young Player of Campeonato Paulista (2009), Best Forward of Campeonato Paulista (2010, 2011) Best player of Campeonato Paulista (2010, 2011), Best player of Copa Santander Libertadores (2011), Prêmio Craque do Brasileirão Championship Squad (2010), Arthur Friedenreich Award (2010), Silver Ball (2010) – Best Forward in Brazilian League by magazine Placar, Golden Boot (2010), Copa do Brazil Top scorer (2010), South American Youth Championship Top scorer 2011.
According to reports, Neymar could garner a transfer fee of around £60million, but a truer valuation of the Brazilian would be comparable to when Robinho joined Real Madrid in a £24million deal in 2005.
Robinho was handpicked by Pele at the age of 15 in 1999 as the heir to his throne, after leading Santos to their first domestic title since Pele retired. His insane footwork and swagger on the ball caught the eyes of the biggest club in the world.
Much was expected of Robinho, but his time in Europe so far (especially at Manchester City) has been abysmal, with the occasional stroke of genius. Who is to say Neymar will fare any better?
Neymar might have the world at his feet, but he is yet to test himself in Europe, competing against the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Actually, I remember his invisible performance against Barcelona in the Fifa World Club Cup final in Japan. He looked like a kid lost in the playground on his first day of secondary school.
Until Neymar takes European football by storm, he will never be mentioned in the same bracket as Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta or Zinedine Zidane. If, however, he leads Brazil to their sixth World Cup on home soil in 2014, he will be considered as a modern day great regardless of what league he plies his trade in.
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