Did Neymar Make the Right Choice?

It’s a simple complex question. Just like majority of the questions that plague football fans. Take Fernando Torres for instance. It’s unanimously agreed that his performances at Chelsea have, to put it mildly, been below expectations. However, since he arrived in London, he has won an FA Cup, a Europa League title and a Champions League Medal. These are three trophies he would most likely not have won at Liverpool who despite having excellent history have been a tad mismanaged in recent times. So, in essence, he sacrificed personal acclaim and legendary status at Liverpool for the lure of trophies and more money-a seemingly rational decision which paid off quite handsomely. In contrast, Alan Shearer had the chance to join Manchester United in the mid 90s but turned it down. He is certainly a legend at Newcastle but I’m sure a little bit of him thinks twice about not taking the risk back then, a risk which could have won him a Premier League medal amidst other trophies and could have even made him a legend with a different team, Manchester United.

Now, you’re wondering what all these guys have got to do with Neymar and asking yourself why on earth I didn’t choose a less complicated analogy. Well, that’s the first one that came to mind so take it like that joor.  Seriously though, practically every footballing decision has a huge element of risk attached to it. Sneijder to Inter! Bang! Worked! Michu to Swansea! Bang! Worked too! Ronaldo to United! Excellent! Worked to perfection! Bendtner to Juventus! Errr! Not too sure . . . Sinclair to City! Hmmmm . . . Gudjohnsen to Stoke! Why on earth would he do that?!!! Bebe to United! Now, that was just silly! The point is all these players and clubs wanted the best for their respective careers and teams and so while some decisions panned out wonderfully, others did not.

BebeDespite that nose, he couldn’t sniff out that United was wrong for him

Neymar has made a very big decision to join Barcelona. One that in any other decade in recent football history would at worst be tagged a brilliant decision.  However, he has chosen to move in the one decade where Lionel Messi is almost sure to take centre stage. Since 2006, Little Leo has gradually played an increasingly integral role in Barcelona’s play basically scoring more than half their UEFA Champion’s League goals since 2007. An impressive statistic for a phenomenal player but one that doesn’t bode well for Neymar-another player who loves to be at the centre of things.

I’m going to reel out a few players who found that their star couldn’t shine as brightly at Los Cules because they had to curb themselves for the greater good of the team. Alexis Sanchez; limited his best attribute of aggressively running at and dribbling defenders to join the passing carousel! Ibrahimovic; well, that’s self explanatory. David Villa; started well but eventually shunted out to the left to ‘cater to the team’s needs'(quote from a friend, No!  . . . I didn’t make it up! . . . Ok, maybe a little)! Even Fabregas has seen his game suffer because of the immovable pair of Xavi and Iniesta.  The point I’m making here is that Barcelona are a very well oiled machine who won’t mind dumping your individual needs if it doesn’t show good signs for the team already on ground.

alexisAlexis looking sadly at what he’s become

If for one moment, you find it in your wisdom to label the outrageously good Neymar as overrated . . . well, you might be right. Nevertheless, this does not detract from the fact that he’s a supremely talented footballer; one of the few left of his kind, the endangered species of crowd entertainers. The things that boy can do with a football to grown men are just amazing. His speed of thought, skill, flair, touch and every other fanciful attribute are present in stupendous amounts. He’s simply a joy to watch. So, why would he decide to go to a place where he might have to curtail this prodigious potential for the good of the team? Messi is not going anywhere anytime soon unless he has a career threatening injury and even the most heartless of souls would pray against that (I’m looking at you two – Hitler and Stalin). Therefore, it follows logical reasoning that he should either have waited a while longer or chosen a different path.

NEYMARMESSIWho will take centre stage?

I am not a soothsayer (Seriously, I’m not. My prediction that Daniele Vantaggiato would be great soon clearly depicts this sad fact) but I believe Neymar could have limited the RISK of him flopping by joining a different team. Just in case, you are letter-case blind, the RISK is capitalized because I’m not suggesting for one minute he will flop, it’s a risk and risks can go either way. He could end up becoming the new Ronaldo(the fat one) or could equally end up as a Robinho and if things are really bad, a Kleberson. We all hope he won’t end up as an Afonso Alves who I’m almost sure stole a Brazilian passport (I kid!). That’s exactly what risk means and the least we can do in life is to minimize the risk. Buy a Cazorla for 18mil, buy a Michu for 2mil, buy a Ronaldo(the fit one) for 12mil so even if they flop, the outlay is never too much to really dent your finances. Liverpool should note that buying Downing and Henderson for a combined 20mil is NOT! a risk. It’s bad management and at a combined 40mil is just very poor scouting akin to Chelsea signing Shaun Wright Phillips for 22 mil.

wrightphillipsG_468x521Way too risky signing . . . with lips that are way too big

So, I know you’re asking what these other risk-limiting clubs are especially considering financial constraints. Well, I’ll jump at you first with a Bayern Munich; historically good with Brazilians and about to hire a certain Pep Guardiola. A man I’m sure would be glad to build another team around one of the only other players on the planet who can rival Messi for moments of pure magic. PSG are an equally viable option. With cash to throw around and enough time and less pressure, they could definitely build a future around Neymar. In the same vein, Monaco could be a nice stepping stone too. Man City with Pellegrini at the helm are an equally exciting prospect for him and with the solid defensive base already on ground, he will only need to bother himself with bamboozling the uber physical English defenses. I must state, however that other leagues are of higher preference than the English league where the weather, style of play and physicality could lead to similar disillusionment that has disturbed many of his countrymen in the past on British shores.

guardiola2Would probably have been a better manager for Neymar

I’ll close by saying this. I like Neymar. No matter what the naysayers think, I strongly believe he is the only player in the world with anywhere near the potential to one day rival Messi and Ronaldo in terms of raw contribution to their respective teams. I think those guys can score more than the only remaining guy in the world after an alien invaded earth and killed all the other males on the planet before committing suicide. I wish him the very best in his career and I’d love it if he eclipses Messi and takes centre stage on the pitch and in the heart of the Catalan club(I never forgave Messi for WYC 2005 against Nigeria’s Mikel etc). However, I believe he could have taken a much SAFER (NOT better, nobody can know this except a time traveller) decision by waiting and/or joining one of the other teams I listed earlier. Arsene Wenger will agree with me as he too loves to play it safe.

The prosecution now rests its case. I look forward to hearing from the defense . . .

By I.V Okata . . . an avid football lover

Follow him on Twitter @IzutaDGaffer


10 thoughts on “Did Neymar Make the Right Choice?

  1. Okay. This runs against the grain of my personal wish. Cynically speaking, there is tendency for polemicists to conjure up cogent arguments to lend credence to their personal biases. You have done that here. I speak knowing where your allegiances lie. The analysis is sublime and credible, however. That’s why I won’t be the defense counsel on this one…

  2. Thanks, man. And you make a very good point about my personal bias, I did make a conscious effort to hide it, though.

  3. Neymar is a “market” player like David Beckham. His “awesome ability” is nothing more than media propaganda. not that i’m anti Neymar but i’ve seen better. people who are proving their mettle in Europe already the Marqinhoes(hope I spelt it correctly) Eric Lamela and the like..I dnt see why these people who are the same age, probably at the same skill level or above in the case of the latter prior to their experience in Europe are not given a their fair share of the spotlight. In recent times, its has been well observed that the players that shine at Barca are their academy products.the Messis,iniestas,xavi and the likes.they are that form the core of Barca and this will be a factor to look at as even world class,world proven talents such as one time best striker Villa, the mercurial Ibra,the reliable masherano have all struggled to impress or rather impose themselves at the nou camp.It should thus be noted that barca is not a TRAINNING GROUND for talents especially those from outside of the nou camp. if u don’t fit in,your reduces to nothing then kicked out and I do not see Neymar conqureing where other well known,well tested gladiators have failed. I just hope for Neymar’s sake i’m not right when I say he will end up as another Alexis Sanchez chosen to play second fiddle to Messi or even worse.

  4. You do make some good points. However, I feel the reasons why most ‘outsiders’ find it that difficult are; 1. They haven’t naturally got the ‘Barca DNA(years of solely following the Barca way of pass and move)’ and if you’re going to be a part of the spine of Barcelona, you’ll have to be fully aware and in active pursuit of doing everything the Barca way. 2. The pass and move style naturally suppresses individual stardom except you’re particularly tasked with the role of making the magic. Else, you are, in essence, another cog in the well functioning Barca wheel. Now, I do feel one could be a ‘market’ player and still be an amazing footballer. Neymar is amazing, probably not as deserving of all the hype but still a special footballer. A rough diamond will always be given more attention than well polished steel or even silver. Neymar might flop but his maximum potential far exceeds Lamela’s, No offence. And that’s why he’ll always garner more media attention despite being relatively unproven in the big leagues.

  5. Nice article-great analogies at the beginning! Neymar is slowly proving the doubters wrong at the Confederations Cup (that volley against Mexico and his assist for Jo’s proved he has the ability). People forget that Neymar is only 21 years old- a kid in footballing terms. He is expected to personally win the World Cup for his nation next year- an absurd expectation for someone so young! Now, he has the added pressure of a £50m price-tag to live up to, playing for the world’s biggest club and he’ll be relentlessly compared to Messi for as long as the pair grace the pitch together.

    • Thanks. The fact that people so readily forget his age when expecting these absurd feats from him is testament to his ability. It’s almost like he’s been around forever yet he’s only 21.

  6. Really loved reading this article. Whilst Leo has taken stage at Bacelona, I myself believe the only player on the planet that can contest him will be Neymar. I mean the young Brazilian has time on his side, he is 21 years old and he is certainly going to be mentored by the likes of Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, etc and one of the worlds best clubs. Plus if they are playing at the same club there is no reason for them to contest each other too much, as they will both have the same agenda… making sure Barcelona attains glory like it has in the past.

    • Thanks. Let’s watch and see what the future holds. I sincerely hope Neymar fulfills his potential at Barca or wherever. It will be a great loss to football if like so many other compatriots of his, he fizzles out.

  7. nice article bruv. neymar had to tow the line of legendary brazillians that have all suceeded in barca ronaldo ….rivaldo…..ronaldinho .

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