Barcelona recently ended months of speculation by sealing a multi-million pound move for Brazilian sensation Neymar.
If you ask Joey Barton, Neymar is grossly overrated. As one of life’s leading philosophers and intellectual giants – comparable to the Dalai Lama, Nietzsche and the Pope, in fact – millions look to Barton’s infamous Twitter account for the latest insights into the footballing world and beyond.
However, just on the off chance that the Liverpudlian loud-mouth has made an error of judgement, Neymar’s game needs some analysis.
The 21-year-old’s flamboyant style and eye for tricks has sometimes seen him labelled a ‘show pony’, and his play has been criticised for a lack of substance. However, at Santos he contributed an astonishing 54 goals in just 103 appearances for the first team.
The fact that he is unproven in European football has been one of the many sticks he has been beaten with. And yet, the Brazilian league is fiercely competitive – in the last ten years, the Campeonato Brasileiro Sèrie A (where Neymar’s former club Santos compete) has been won by six different clubs. Unfortunately, a certain ignorance still surrounds football outside of Europe for fans in countries like the UK.
To his detriment, Neymar is often compared to the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite being a fellow South American, Messi started his career at Barca and has always plied his trade in Europe. It will certainly be interesting to see how Neymar adapts to life in La Liga, one of the toughest, if not the toughest, league in the world.
Although the youngster has time on his side, Ronaldo was already stealing the headlines at Manchester United by the time he was Neymar’s age. It will also be a tough transition going from the star of Santos to presumably playing second fiddle to Messi, and Neymar will struggle to get the same service from the midfield at the Nou Camp as he received at Santos.
Why is it, then, that Neymar’s arrival has been so hyped by fans and journalists alike? From a commercial point of view, Neymar is the face of Brazil 2014 and is tipped to have a huge impact at next year’s World Cup.
His final ball has improved greatly in the last season, and he has the enviable ability to create opportunities from nowhere. Barcelona may have bought a star, but Neymar will be a valuable addition to their squad, even if his impact is shrouded in fancy footwork.
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