I’m going to start this post by admitting that I have little knowledge of the Brazilian game. I’ve been a big fan of Brazil’s national team since the 2002 World Cup win over England, but have only really started to get into the domestic league and teams.
That of course means my views on the Brasileirão won’t necessarily be spot on, it will however, be opinion based and not intended to deceive anyone i.e. I won’t pretend I know a lot thus causing fellow novices to believe my words as truth. But anyways, let’s begin on the topic I originally planned to discuss.
My Brazilian team is Santos, a lot to do with the legend Pelé and the languid Ganso but, most notably, it is the recent legend that has caught my attention: The electrifying showman, Neymar.
The young Brazilian has wowed fans all around the world with his dribbling skills, accomplishment of pure skill and his overall ability and level of performances. These attributes have drawn comparisons to none other than Lionel Messi. And it’s easy to see why, they can both dribble with the ball, confuse defenders, both have an eye for goal and have received high praise from fans of the beautiful football.
But I think it’s another Brazilian who Neymar is most similar to. That Brazilian being the somewhat forgotten hero: Garrincha. Garrincha was a fantastic player, one of the first players to introduce flair to the game. His dribbling skills were second to none, he could weave in and out of defenders, run back and forth with the ball entertaining audiences from 1953 to 1972.
Regarded as the best dribbler in football history, Garrincha was an innovator and Neymar himself has said his style is similar to the troubled ‘Alegria do Povo’. It’s also easy to see why Neymar is held in such a high regard. He has all the attributes to be one of the greats, but there are questions over his physique and strength – which are required in European football.
Many have claimed Neymar will end up with broken legs when trying all of his skills on stronger, bigger defenders but you just have to look as recent as Ronaldinho to consider that a moderately unfounded belief.
Besides, from what I’ve seen, the Brazilian league is a fairly competitive one anyway; a quick, strong league that requires some strength. And you only need to watch a Neymar compilation on YouTube to notice he’s been getting kicked about since a young age; it’s the only way to stop him so he is physically used to a kick or two.
Everyone focuses on the skillful side of his game, but he does have other highly developed attributes. Having already scored over 100 goals in under 200 appearances at the age of 20, it’s evident he is a goal scorer. He has a good end product and understanding of the game; he can get himself into useful positions and can make the most of them.
His record for Brazil isn’t too shabby either: 9 goals in 17 games, the first coming on his debut against the United States. He will be a key figure in the national team for years to come, starting at the summer Olympics then the 2014 World Cup in his home country, Brazil.
Prone to scoring good goals, he was awarded the 2011 FIFA Puskás Award – the award for the most aesthetically significant and most beautiful goal of the year (Wikipedia’s words, not mine) – for his goal in the Série A game vs Flamengo. He received the ball out wide, cut inside leaving 2 defenders trailing, played a one-two and skillfully knocked the ball past the defender then finishing with some style.
On the downside, he has received some criticism for feigning injury and diving. It has to be said there is some truth in these claims, but in modern football a lot of footballers make the most of challenges.
Plus his body is very light, meaning no matter how used to being kicked he is, he won’t be able to remain standing all the time so it would be unfair to let this negative aspect override the many positive aspects of his game and generally effect your opinion, though it would be ideal for him to cut down.
In my opinion, it would be realistic to name Neymar as one of the best in the world. People say he’ll need to come to Europe to prove himself, however, Pelé spent his entire career at Santos (before coming out of retirement to join New York Cosmos) and he is often named the greatest ever.
I do believe it is ignorant to disregard the quality of Brazilian football. Many, many great players have come from Brazil and have graced Europe with their silky skills winning awards and titles.
Will Neymar be successful should he ever come to Europe? Well, there’s no sufficient evidence to suggest he wouldn’t be. I believe he’ll have a slow start while he settles, but I’m sure once he is, he’ll prove many people wrong and shine.
Maybe he’ll stay at Santos forever, we don’t really know. It’s unlikely we’ll see him make a move soon as he has a young son and I doubt he’ll want to disrupt his upbringing or be an absent father.
Whether or not he does leave, I’ll always enjoy watching him. He represents everything that’s great with football; the entertainment value. Though if he joins a club I dislike, I will naturally be inclined to dislike him too.
So here’s hoping he doesn’t. He is football artistry personified.