Finally, Neymar will play in Europe. Arguably Brazil’s best player, he has been the protagonist of this year’s biggest football transfer saga and the swopping season has only just begun. The former Santos striker’s signature for Barcelona ends a war between them and Real Madrid.
Neymar chose the Nou Camp because he wants to play with Lionel Messi. The 21-year-old striker is going to be presented on Monday, but fans will have to wait until August to see him in action in a Barca shirt. First, Neymar’s immediate task is to help Brazil win the Confederations Cup on home soil, one year before the World Cup.
Euronews went to Santos to see the city and the club which the great Pelé himself used to play for. Comparisons are never ending. Pelé won three world cup with Brazil, so fans are eagerly waiting to see if Neymar can win his first coveted title: the 2014 World Cup.
Former Brazilian world champion, Romario, believes this team has enough potential to go all the way: “To make a difference a big player is needed to win a World Cup title. We hope that Brazil win the trophy and I’m sure Neymar will help a lot.”
Whomever else makes up the team or leads it, Neymar is guaranteed to start. In 2012, he scored 9 goals in 11 matches for the national team, however since Felipe Scolari took over, Neymar’s goal-scoring performances have dropped off. But the level of expectation remains the same.
“The moment of Brazilian national team will arrive. We have a new coach and staff and things are getting better. We are trying a new technical model on the pitch and I’m sure we will improve as a team.” said Neymar.
euronews: Do you fear having a disappointing performance and Brazil being eliminated?
Neymar: “No, no…In a World Cup you win or you lose, a draw doesn’t exist. We are aware of it and we are going to win. Our biggest rival? I think is going to be Argentina.”
euronews: So, we can expect Messi against Neymar in the final at the Maracanã stadium?
Neymar: “If God wishes, I really hope for that.”
euronews: “This is your big dream?”
Neymar: “Yes, of course, playing a final against Argentina in a World Cup tournament is my biggest dream.”
With his transfer to Barcelona imminent, all eyes will be on Neymar playing in Champions League. However, each time Neymar’s played with Brazil against European national teams he has failed to live up to his billing. The public did not see the silky skills he has so-often displayed in Brazil.
“When I play in Europe I do exactly the same things that I’ve done in Brazil with Santos but we know not all the times you can dribbling and score. In a normal match in Santos, I tried 15 times a move and only 5 times I achieved the goal. Critics never follow me during the season, but only for a 2 or 3 matches.”
“For me there is no difference playing football in Brazil or in Europe. Football is football and if you develop your skills and qualities, I’m sure that you can play well even in Europe. I don’t see the difference, really.”
Over the last few years, Santos received numerous bids for Neymar from Europe’s biggest clubs. But, they managed to retain him for a while largely thanks to the strength of the Brazilian economy. Last year the commercial value of Santos rose a whopping 70%. Corinthians, the mainly Brazilian club, also grew 34%. The trigger for the growth – an improved financial package for television rights, and more sponsors changed the game in Brazilian football. Now, Brazil is no longer just an exporter of players, it is also an importer of talent. Clarence Seedorf (Milan-Botafogo), Fred (Lyon-Fluminense), Pato (Milan-Corinthians) and Luis Fabiano (Sevilha-São Paulo) are some examples of the new reality.
According to Romario, this phenomenon is easy to explain: some private companies are investing in football because we are organising the next world cup. The players of the national team (seleção) are attractive for these companies and the clubs also become more attractive,” he said. “but I think after the World Cup, it will be different.” he added.
It remains to be seen whether the Brazilian championship will continue to attract more foreign players, but for now, Neymar its biggest draw already belongs to Europe.