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Spotlight on…Neymar

For the latest instalment of the ‘Spotlight on…’ series, Sport Report travels across the Atlantic Ocean to Brazil to give you the lowdown on Brazilian football’s hottest property, Santos forward Neymar.


Whilst many people may not have seen the young Brazilian forward play, most will have read Neymar’s name in the newspaper on more than one occasion, usually in the same sentence as a string of top European clubs. The 19 year-old has created something of a buzz amongst those in the know and is regarded as one of world football’s brightest young talents, not without reason. His slight build, relative lack of height and style of play have drawn predictable comparisons with another product of the Santos youth system, Robinho. Much like the aforementioned AC Milan forward, Neymar is exceptionally skilful, capable of dazzling opposition defenders and delighting spectators in equal measure. He naturally favours his right foot, but is as two-footed a player as you will find in the modern game. Consequently, he is able to beat defenders on either side and then deliver quality crosses for strikers or go for goal himself. As is the case with so many Brazilians, his close control is exceptional and he loves nothing more than to terrorise defenders by running at them at pace with the ball seemingly glued to his boot. Much like established Brazilian superstars Robinho and Ronaldinho, Neymar is comfortable playing out wide or through the middle, although he is most effective when given a free roaming role in the way Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are at their respective clubs. Furthermore, he seems to have a good head on his shoulders. When asked last season about the possibility of a move to Real Madrid, he stated that he did not feel it was the right time to leave Santos as he felt he could still develop his game in Brazil. His job as the team’s penalty taker also paints a picture of a young man with great faith in his abilities and who does not shirk responsibility.


Such has been the youngster’s impact at Santos since making his debut aged 17 in March 2009, that comparisons with the club’s greatest ever player, Pelé, are already commonplace. Whilst such comparisons are premature and something we have heard time and time again (anybody remember Denilson?), 43 goals in his second season and the award for the best player in the Campeonato Paulista are testament to his undoubted natural talent. Indeed following that phenomenal season, Romario and Pelé reportedly implored Dunga to include him in Brazil’s World Cup Squad for South Africa. Dunga, whilst acknowledging Neymar’s ability, refused, citing a lack of experience at the highest level. In August 2010 however, he did receive his first call-up for the senior national team when new manager Mano Menezes included him in the squad for the friendly against the USA. The forward made his debut in the game, scoring a header from an André Santos corner.


Neymar in action on his debut for Brazil (This image is the property of The Independent)


Along with fellow Santos youngster Paulo Ganso, Neymar has attracted a raft of admirers from Europe’s top leagues, He reportedly favours a move to Italian giants Juventus, but given their financial situation and dismal run of form, Chelsea or Real Madrid seem like more likely destinations. Although he has a contract which ties him to Santos until December 2014, it seems inevitable that he will follow in the footsteps of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Robinho and move to Europe at a young age. Wherever he may be paraded as a marquee signing in the future, it seems a good bet that fans of that fortunate club will have the privilege of watching one of football’s top stars for years to come. The future also looks bright for Brazil with young players like Neymar, Paulo Ganso, Alexandre Pato and David Luiz making waves across Europe. If the team can fulfil its potential, the young forward will be afforded even more publicity, most probably as a World Cup winner.





Name: Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior


Place of Birth: Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil


Nationality: Brazilian


Date of Birth: 5th February 1992


Career League Appearances: 64


Career League Goals: 27


Total Career Appearances: 119


Total Career Goals: 60


International Caps: 2


International Goals: 1


Key Attributes: pace, very skilful, two-footed, excellent dribbler

Categories: Football
  1. Chris Hollindale
    March 20, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Nice write-up. I’ve not seem him play (even via YouTube), but he certainly seems an character and it will be interesting to see what the next few years hold in store for him.

    P.S. This was a fascinating episode I came across last year involving Neymar:


    • March 20, 2011 at 4:48 pm

      Thanks Chris.

      I haven’t seen a great deal of him myself so I did some internet based scouting when I decided to profile him. The similarities with a young Robinho are striking and love his positive approach (direct running, dribbling at pace etc).

      I just hope his career doesn’t falter like Robinho’s. Like you say, the next few years will shape his career. The timing and destination of his next move are crucial.

      I haven’t seen that issue regarding the penalty. Such an attitude is often a problem with young players who are lauded early, they get big headed. It also seems to be something that affects these top Brazilians (Ronaldo, Robinho and Romario all known for flare ups during their careers). Hopefully though, he’ll get a strong manager who can impart his wisdom and explain the importance of playing for the team. He’s definitely one to look out for though in my opinion.

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