No more waiting or speculating. Santos have accepted two offers from the El Clasico duo, Barcelona and Real Madrid, for the crown jewel of Brazilian football, Neymar. The only questions left to answer are for how much money he’ll be transferred, and more importantly, which offer and team does he choose to accept?
It’s been around two years that we’ve been hearing rumors about Real Madrid trying to sign Neymar, who has been crowned as the new king of football in Brazil even before his 20th birthday, leading Santos to winning the Copa Libertadores, dominating the Paulista tournament over the last three years (until this season) and sometimes scoring at will while passing the moments of boredom by avoiding defenders trying to cheap shot him.
The numbers? Neymar has played 224 matches for Santos since 2009, scoring 136 goals, including 15 in 29 Copa Libertadores matches. He’s also been capped 32 times for the national team, scoring 20 goals. Some thought that the 2014 World Cup will help Santos keep Neymar, who kept insisting that he doesn’t want to leave and is fine staying with the team until after the World Cup.
But money, a lot of money (it’s not quite clear how much, and how much will go to Neymar, DIS and Santos themselves in the usual economical mess offered by Brazilian football) is hard to turn down after a while. Santos don’t want to see Neymar get away for nothing next year, even though they haven’t been the side paying most of his salary since he has become the poster child for Brazilian football.
The disappointment from the seasons for both Real Madrid and Barcelona have turned up the stakes, the persistence and the value of their offers. Real Madrid end the season with nothing, while Barcelona feel that “just” the league title isn’t enough, especially after being humiliated by Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinal. It’s also a matter of keeping the fans, the voters for the club’s presidency, happy. Bringing a superstar like Neymar, with fans urging the player to finally come across the Atlantic and finally show his ability on the biggest stage in the world, can win you a lot of votes.
So now it’s counseling time. Neymar’s father is doing most of the talking, and for now it’s about waiting and making the right decision. For now, it seems the decision will be made an announced only after the weekend, but surprised and leaks do happen, and it might eventually come out sooner.
Prediction? Some say Neymar is not going to turn down Barcelona, who might offer a little bit less in wages, but do offer the promise of playing next to Lionel Messi. Not that playing next to Cristiano Ronaldo is bad, but there’s something about playing alongside Messi that seems more tempting, especially after the two have already met once in the Club World Cup Final in 2011. Barcelona seem to have been the closer team to getting him (for £40 million) over the last few months, and it’ll be less surprising if he lands there.