Nothing official from the clubs, just big media outlets reporting that the deal is already done: Neymar will become a Barcelona player at the end of this season, despite all the denials from Santos, with a secret deal already in place to finally bring the biggest Brazilian talent to Europe.
According to AS and El Mundo Deportivo, it’s not going to be Manchester City, who sent representatives to Brazil in order to negotiate a deal with Santos, but Barcelona, who beat the English club and Real Madrid to the best player still not footballing in Europe.
According to these reports, the original deal was for Neymar to arrive at Barcelona after the 2014 World Cup, which would have left Santos not receiving a transfer fee, as his contract ends by then. Barcelona have already paid a €10 million advance on the move, and will eventually spend a total of €60 million to get Santos’ star a year early.
This all is very different, quite the opposite from what we’re hearing all year (and probably earlier than that) long from both their president Luis Álvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro (Laor) and Neymar himself, who might be dreaming about leaving to the biggest clubs in Europe, but is saying all the right things when his only club thus far in his career (Mind you, he’s only 20), claiming he doesn’t want to leave, is very happy, wants to stay for the World Cup… you know the drill.
One of the questions that rises from the arrival of Neymar is where does he fit in the lineup and the system. The truth is it doesn’t really matter. We’ve seen in the past that great players tend to make the right adjustments in order to make everything work. It wasn’t the case with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who did win a La Liga title with Barcelona but didn’t exactly fit in, but that had more to do with personality than his actual footballing skills. Cesc Fabregas found his place in a crowded midfield, and David Villa, at least until he got injured, had no problem filling in any position in the front line. Neymar and Messi should be able to work together.
Since joining the senior team in 2009, Neymar has played in a total of 202 matches for Santos, 102 in the Brasileirão, scoring 54 league goals and 123 in all competitions. He has won the Paulista (The Sao Paulo championship) three consecutive times, the Copa Libertadores in 2011 and Recopa Sudamericana in 2012.