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Neymar must leave comfort zone to fulfil promise

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Tim Vickery | 08:41 UK time, Monday, 20 August 2012

On Wednesday Neymar helped Brazil to a morale-boosting 3-0 win away to Sweden. The next evening he was back in action on the other side of the Atlantic, in Florianopolis in the south of Brazil, where he played the starring role as Santos came from behind to seal a 3-1 victory against Figueirense.

The punishing schedule is reflected by a glance at the league table. The Brazilian Championship is approaching the halfway stage, but Neymar has hardly figured. He has been away on international duty, and Santos have struggled in his absence.

A defeat last Thursday would have left them just one point clear of the relegation places - and it looked a distinct possibility at half-time, when bottom of the table Figueirense were a goal up. Neymar put a stop to the panic with a superb solo equaliser, and laid on the clinching third goal. He also added another assist on Sunday as Santos came from behind once more to beat old rivals Corinthians. Suddenly the league table does not look so frightening.

Clearly, Santos need Neymar.

But does Neymar still need Santos?

It is an interesting question.

Over the last three years the 20-year-old has climbed almost every mountain that exists in South American club football. He is a magnificent talent, with the balance and two footed trickery to draw comparison with a young George Best. But he is by no means the finished article. Nor will he be until he learns how to operate in reduced space.

Neymar won a silver medal for Brazil at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Photo: Getty

The Olympic final against Mexico was another in a recent sequence of big matches where Neymar has been nullified by canny defences closing him down. This is not necessarily a cause for alarm. Learning to overcome such challenges is a normal part of a young player's development. But in order to learn he must come up against his demon on a regular basis, and here lies the problem.

Brazilian club defences tend to lie very deep, meaning there is space on the field for the likes of Neymar to pick up possession and build up acceleration. Referees are quick to blow for fouls and there is a cultural tolerance of diving.

Figueirense last Thursday are perhaps an unfair example - they are not bottom of the table for nothing - but their defending was so appallingly bad that the thought that this was something of a hollow triumph may even have flickered across Neymar's mind. And there could be even worse to come. Those two quick victories have lifted Santos up the table. But they still stand 11 points behind the team in fourth place, the last qualifier for next year's Copa Libertadores, South America's Champions League. Should they fail to make up the gap then Santos will be looking at a very melancholy opening few months of 2013.

Until the next national championship gets under way at the end of May the only stages on which Neymar will feature will be the opening rounds of the Brazilian Cup and the dreadful Sao Paulo State Championship - competitions which have very little to contribute to his development.

This is the risk of staying in Brazil - that of remaining in a comfort zone. Other risks are available, some of which are now being faced by Oscar, who has established such an interesting international partnership with Neymar.

Sunday's 2-0 win over Wigan got Oscar's Chelsea career off to a winning start. He came off the bench in the second half, and while he will be happy with the win bonus he has already seen that there is no guarantee of a place in the starting line-up.

The headlines have gone to Eden Hazard. Juan Mata is still there of course, and Marko Marin has been drafted in. Competition for attacking midfield places will be stiff, and being on international duty prevented Oscar from bedding in to his new surroundings with a proper pre-season.

Oscar is a wonderfully talented, inventive player, versatile and stronger then he looks. But there will inevitably be a period of adaptation, and the risk exists that too much time on the bench might blunt his edge and rob his career of momentum. Joining Chelsea is the move of a confident young man. Oscar has the game to back up his confidence - just as well, since he is not scaling Everest the easy way.

There are exceptions, but most of the Brazilians who have done exceptionally well in Europe have tended to find their feet with smaller clubs before going on to shine with the giants. As the current continental champions, Chelsea have to be considered a giant - and the aim to add more style to their success makes Stamford Bridge a demanding destination.

Is Oscar taking on too much too soon? Is Neymar not taking on enough? The contrasting risks the pair are running have a great deal to do with the improved economic scenario of the Brazilian game. Money exists to hold on to the stars for longer - which means that by the time they make the move, their prestige and price bracket puts them out of the range of all but the biggest clubs.

The Oscar-Neymar partnership looks to be of fundamental importance to Brazil's World Cup campaign - all the more so if Wednesday's evidence is to be believed and 4-2-3-1 has now given way to 4-3-2-1. The pair have freedom to flit across the attacking line in support of the centre forward. It will be fascinating to see how Neymar and Oscar deal with their respective risks and challenges on the countdown to 2014.

Send your questions on South American football to and I'll pick out a couple for next week. From last week's postbag:

Following what looked like a great 3-0 win for Ecuador in New York against a good looking Chile side, do you think it is real possibility of Ecuador mounting a serious challenge for World Cup qualification? Is it possible they could win some key games away from their Quito stronghold this time around?
Andy Morrison

It certainly was a terrific win against Chile, showcasing what Ecuador do best - attack down the flanks. Chile's back three were made for them, with Antonio Valencia imperious down the right and Jefferson Montero a delight down the left. If only his final ball and choice of options were better then Montero could be world class.

Ecuador are fourth in the qualification table at the moment, so they are on course - but they are 100% at home and 0% away. With the threat they carry on the counter attack they should be able to pick up some away points. My doubt, though, is whether they are good enough in both penalty areas.

Just having a look at the Argentine League, what impact would it have if Independiente get relegated?
Edmund Allen

They are in for a long, hard year. On the average points over three years - which determines relegation in Argentina - Independiente are currently bottom of the table. And they have made a bad start to the season - without a win (or even a goal) in the first three games.

But the lesson should be clear. If River Plate can go down, anyone can. Although they seem to have bounced back a bit stronger for the experience, which
might give Independiente fans a tiny crumb of consolation.


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  • Comment number 1.


    Neymar certinaly showed his quality in the Olympics and i am will be suprised if he someone does not come in fro him.

    Brazil will host the world cup and by the reaction of many of the fans when they only took Silver in the Olympics will be a cause of concern for the Brazil nation team.

    Neymar and the Brazil national squad need to come to Europe for experience to see how they develop in more difficult and competitive teams and definately the chances to play in the CL.

    Its a must that Neymar comes to Europe, i am sure this is nothing but obvious.

  • Comment number 2.

    Interesting blog Tim, but it was quite clear from the Olympics that Neymar is too selfish and too much of an individual by taking on too many defenders and ultimately losing the ball. There were opportunities to pass to a team mate and he lost the ball. I wonder if Brazil are not better off without Neymar? He will be a liability to Brazil against well organised and cohesive international teams. I am not surprised that Dunga didn't take him to the SA 2010 world cup. He is good against minor teams but against organised and talented teams like Mexico he flopped. No wonder he shines in the poor Brazilian league.

    On another note, how long before Mano Meneses gets his marching orders? He flopped badly in the Copa America 2011, failed to win the Olympics when he had the best team on paper, beating an Ibrahimovic-less Sweden is no big deal, they have meaning-less friendlies against China and South Africa coming up, i think they need an astute and intelligent foreign coach, someone like Guardiola, Hiddink, to whip them into shape, as there is a dearth of decent managers in Brazil.

  • Comment number 3.

    One word: Pele - considered by many as the greatest player ever to pull on a pair of boots and until his NY Cosmos days right at the end of his career, played in Brazil.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think the whole point of Neymar moving to Europe is one of when, not if.

    As Tim has pointed out on many of his blogs, many youngsters make the jump to Europe too soon in their career. Obviously there's a case point that Neymar can leave it too long and not reach his potential if he tests himself against the better european teams.

    I still think the guy is quite overrated. Many a player have looked "amazing" in Brazil, the real test is whether they can be "amazing" against the top sides in Europe.

  • Comment number 5.

    I am sure he would be effective for the Swans lol

  • Comment number 6.

    Brazilian football is playing a very delicate balancing game with it's young stars, a game that if they are not careful could seriously damage their national team and domestic leagues for years to come.

    Whilst i completely appreciate Santos' want for their star asset to remain where he is and play in Brazilian domestic football for the foreseable future; surely it's will be at the long term detriment to him and the club?

    The longer he remains a "big fish in a little pond" and comes up against the, frankly, amateurish defending in Brazil the further he'll sliding away from reaching his potential. To make the most of any skill in life you need to test yourself, you need to put what you can do to the test, to learn, to adapt and to overcome. As cheesy as that sounds it rings true in almost any walk of life, probably none more so than in football.

    If this guy really does have the world at his feet then he needs to move sooner rather than later, he needs to come up against world class footballers in world class leagues. Without testing himself at this level he'll never improve upon what is already quite an impressive array of skills.

    The national team will also suffer without him making the next move in his career, how can he be expected to play against Figueirense one week then the likes of Germany or Spain in the 2014 World Cup?

    He needs to move now, for the sake of his career otherwise he'll be another name to add to the list of could-have-beens across South America.

  • Comment number 7.

    Along with Lucas Moura and Oscar, Neymar is the standout young talent in Brazilian football (in my opinion anyway). Neymar definitely needs to come to Europe, and I personally think he'll shine, but not in the Premier League. I think he'll end up at Real or Barca, simply because the Spanish game suits him more at the moment. He'll get some protection from referees, be given a 'god like status' and certainly be in the running for major silverware season after season. The EPL is without question the best league in the world, but the image of it being a 'rough' league means that the more technically gifted, skilful players are deterred.

    With Higuain staying at Real, and Villa returning to full fitness, difficult to see where he would fit in at either side, but that's certainly a good headache to have for either Tito or Jose. I for one hope he comes to Europe sooner rather than later - would be great to see him test himself in the Champions League against the elite clubs of Europe.

  • Comment number 8.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 9.

    He'll end up at Madrid eventually I'd guess to me he looks more like a Robinho than a Ronaldo/Ronaldinho in terms of impact he will make. Bags of talent but too selfish.

  • Comment number 10.

    #3 one word: ludicrous. The world has changed since 1970. Throwing up Pele as an example relevant to modern day is a little like suggesting England should play with an inside right or call on support from the British Empire.

    Honestly how do people like this guy get given access to a computer?

  • Comment number 11.

    He should join a team where he can further his development for two or three years. Then move to a big club to win trophies.

    Perhaps Arsenal ?

  • Comment number 12.

    Brazil's switch from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-2-1 actually occurred in the Olympic semi-final at Old Trafford, where Hulk was dropped and Alex Sandro started instead.

    But for the first half of that match and the entire final the opposition loved having a massive defensive numerical advantage over a Brazil team in which Neymar, Oscar and Leandro Damiao were the only offensive midfielders or strikers.

    Sweden's senior national team is far weaker than Mexico and South Korea's Olympic teams, so Menezes gets a stay of execution.

    But his Brazil is becoming as stereotyped and lacking in creativity as Dunga's was. I watched their last two matches at the Olympics and came to the conclusion that Brazil won't see the best of Neymar unless Ganso is restored to the team, preferably as well as Oscar rather than instead of.

    I also wondered where I might find the birth certificates of Sandro and Leandro Damiao, as they are VERY mature looking 23 year olds.

  • Comment number 13.

    4.At 09:57 20th Aug 2012, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:

    I still think the guy is quite overrated. Many a player have looked "amazing" in Brazil, the real test is whether they can be "amazing" against the top sides in Europe


    But he's more than just an up and coming prospect. He's already won 20 senior Brazil caps and is barely more than a teenager, and now he's first choice in the Brazil senior team ahead of players who are already in Europe like Pato, Robinho, and experienced veterans like Kaka and Ronaldinho.

    There comes a point when the 'overrated' claim just gets a bit silly, it's just obvious that he's Brazil's most exciting young player, a big talent and he's only going to get better.

  • Comment number 14.

    Tim - think back to when you were 20 and how you would have reacted going to South America without your friends of family? He's just a kid and should be allowed a couple more years to mature before being thrust in to an alien environment where every one will want a piece of him. Good luck to him and I hope he has a strong team around him who have his best interests at heart both professionally and personally.

  • Comment number 15.

    @ 10

    A bit over the top mate, anyone can give an example and use it at their opinion, you getting stressed over it would mean that its you that needs time away from a computer.

    @11 Its a good point and their are not many clubs that he could walk straight into and be a first choice striker.

    Arsenal or Chelsea are both in need of strikers and i think he would be best going to club like Arsenal. I think that would be a very good move and Wenger would certainly coach him into be more of a team player, but also its important that Strikers do not pass the ball to much and create their own chances, thats the role of a striker is to work on shooting creating chances for themselves and then scoring.


    I agree that the Prem is a very physical league and almost we or the people around it are quite proud of.

    Just like yesterday when Hazard was hacked down the commentators just said welcome to the Premiership, but if we actually see some of the challenges then its not tough play but very poor football.

    The Premiership has to lose this Neanderthal image of that you need to be half a brute to survive. Seeing Oscar come on and his slight frame is a concern, but his ability on the ball is very clear to see, and the first thing the commentators say he needs beefing up, but this is slightly against the new Brazils approach of having smaller light weight but technically gifted players. By far the best players in general are smaller players, Messi, Mata, David Silver, Iniesta, almost all of the Barcelona team the list just goes on and on, so for the Prem to improve we need to accommodate these types of players and get rid of muscle bullies, then we are going to see more and more technical players flooding the Prem.

  • Comment number 16.

    As always very good butI have read someof theseissues from you before.

    Here we are with Europe kicking off this weekend and the Olympic Firework Smoke clearing we are getting the same old noncence from BBC sportswriters. Question..........

    The BBC need Tim Vickery but

    does Tim Vickery need the BBC.

    Tim come on time to move on, write that book, go to Europe.

  • Comment number 17.

    I fear that the hype surrounding Neymar has priced him out of all but the best teams in the world, and I can imagine that few of them will want to spend that kind of money on a player that is largely untested in European league football.

    Real Madrid is likely to be his destination, but I think that he'd make a cracking signing for the likes of Man Utd or Arsenal. He would be a fantastic final project for Fergie given his previous role in bringing Ronaldo to the world stage and Wenger could slot him into a squad so desperate for that bit of flair and attacking prowess at times. Most importantly, both teams and the league in general would complete his game. He'll become stronger, he'll cut the diving aspect of his game out and he'll be able to test himself against some of the best defenses in the world.

    I hope that he takes his inspiration from Cristiano Ronaldo and looks towards the Premier League, if not as a new home then as a stepping stone to becoming established as the best forward in the world.

  • Comment number 18.

    13.At 11:29 20th Aug 2012, Vox Populi wrote:

    How many have their been in hte past though?

    What about the likes of Denilson, Adriano, Robinho etc?

    To call a 20 yo world class is just ridiculous. The fact that he's been brought into the Brazil is a sign of desperation rather than his quality. The likes of Robinho, Pato, Kaka etc were not good enough in the last WC, so it's a desperate attempt to try an alternative.

    Oxlaide is in the England team. Is he going to be the new Bobby Charlton?

  • Comment number 19.

    12.At 11:28 20th Aug 2012, yakubusdiet wrote:

    Hi mate, sorry I didn't get a chance to reply to your last comments in the previous blog.

    The CONCACAF is nowhere near the level of the Euro champs. Seriously, if you had the likes of Sweden, Greece, Denmark in there, they'd be topping the group.

    You mentioned that USA were higher than England in WC 2010, but that reflects how poor England were, rather than how far USA have come. New Zealand finished higher than Italy, but that doesn't mean they're better.

    Mexico and South Korea under 23s better than the Swedish national team? Dear oh dear. It never stops in terms of hyperbolic exaggerrations.

  • Comment number 20.

    I was under the impresson that Barcelona had already agreed to sign neymar after the next world cup??

  • Comment number 21.

    Maybe so, Spain though, not here. The MOTD moron who drooled as some talentless gorilla (was it Caldwell?) slid knees first into Hazard on the week end shows the PL up for the garbage league it is in truth. This lad has too much hype to be bought by anybody other than the Spanish giants anyway.

  • Comment number 22.

    @19 ESG
    I think you over-estimate the quality of European national teams, while I fully acknowledge the primacy of European leagues.

    At the 2010 World Cup:
    Mexico eliminated France.
    South Korea eliminated Greece.
    USA topped England's group, and eliminated Slovenia.
    Ghana eliminated Serbia.
    Japan eliminated Denmark.
    New Zealand finished above Italy.
    Switzerland needed only to beat Honduras to go through, but drew 0-0.

    The world has changed. I strongly contend that South Korea and Mexico's Olympic teams are superior to Sweden's senior national team.

    The fact is, there are about five decent European teams. But the 2014 World Cup draw already means that several rubbish European teams will qualify: even before the play-offs the draw looks likely to see Belgium, Switzerland, Russia and Greece qualify by topping their groups.

    Argentina's crushing win in Germany last week reinforced my opinion that world football currently looks like this:

    Top Table: Spain, Argentina

    Second Tier: Germany, Brazil, Uruguay, Italy.

    Third Tier: Portugal, England, France, Holland, Chile, Ghana, Ivory Coast, USA, Mexico, Japan, South Korea.

    Fourth Tier: Columbia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Belgium, Turkey, Russia, Greece, Switzerland, Sweden, Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal, Australia.

  • Comment number 23.

    Neymar will never be a great player till he comes to Europe and scored 25+ goals a season for while.

    In no other time in history would a player like Neymar have to compete with 4 of the greatest players that have ever lived- and indeed the greatest of them all in Messi.

    Even so, the quality and exposure of the Brazilian league means that if he ever wants to be regarded up there with Messi, Ronaldo, Iniesta and Xavi then he must perform in one of the top 4 European League AND the Champions League.

    He could well wait until after the 2014 World Cup, he's still young so he has the time- but if he were to perform badly or be overshadowed by the likes of Messi... Well, he may miss his one great opportunity to truly make a name for himself.

  • Comment number 24.

    @22 how you think Belgium will top their group ahead of Croatia is beyond me.

    Yes, they have a cracking young team, but they had the same squad going into the Euro qualifications and bombed out.

    They're in a group with Croatia, Serbia, Scotland and Wales. None of them are push overs, especially away from home. Scotland don't lose many games at Hampden- holding or beating Holland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Italy, France and almost drawing with Spain in the last few years.

    Furthermore, Wales are the bottom seeded team in that group and WILL take points off the bigger teams in the group- though they don't have strength in depth, Allen, Ramsey, Bale and Bellamy are easily good enough to become a problem.

    Croatia were one of the best teams at the Euros and were perhaps unfortunate to be drawn alongside Spain AND Italy who competed in the final. How you think they are likely to top Croatia is beyond me.

    Serbia are an unknown force these days with the old guard on their way out and their younger team only having won 1 of their last 10 games. Regardless, it would be naïve to think they are anything but a stern test.

    It's also beyond me why you think that the Ruskies will top their group in front of Portugal...

  • Comment number 25.

    #15 - slightly off topic, but very well said on the EPL. I've been saying for many years that the attitude of "us" to the EPL's physicality is so wrong we will never have a succesful national team. Dont get me wrong - being a physical player can be a good thing (Vidic's, Yaya Toure's for example), as long as they have ability. But far too often fans applaud the likes of a Karl Henry, or a Lee Cattermole type player - players that go around hammering into the opposition with little to no ability on the ball.
    Someone of Neymar's ability just wouldnt be allowed to play - unfairly - and would end up being labelled a flop as opposed to having the chance to show the world his true ability.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think that one of the problems for the likes of Neymar and Lucas Moura is that the high salary levels in Brazil are leading them to conclude that the only worthy European teams are the very biggest ones. Whereas thirty years ago Zico played for Udinese and Kempes played for Valencia.

    If Brazil's economy had not boomed its youngsters would be moving to small but still good European clubs where they could hone their skills. We would be talking about Neymar going to FC Porto or Lucas Moura to Sporting Lisbon or Oscar to Ajax, where they would be regular starters. Then, if they adapted well, they might move on to a bigger club.

  • Comment number 27.

    I remember a few years back when Diego and Robhino was being talked as the new world class stars. Diego didnt quite make it when he came to Europe and is just a very good player.

    Robhino has done ok, an ok period at RM, good start at Man City but then slowly faded out and now he is just ok at Milan.

    But if we go back in time to how people talked up these 2 stars and then their impact since they came to Europe then i feel the same fate could await Neymar.

    But nobody can tell until he comes over and as far as i know he is on his way to Barcelona, but who knows.

    Neymar is nothing but a potentially good players, best striker in the world, world class cant be said in the same sentance as he needs to be a good player for at least 3-5 years and produce some good displays in the world cup.

  • Comment number 28.

    Doubt we'll see Neymar in Europe til after 2014 WC. I'm really looking forward to it though as he's undoubtedly the best young talent in world football IMO.

    He's got the toolset to be amongst the all time greats, as Phil said if he learns to iron out the slight flaws in his game he'd be unplayable.

  • Comment number 29.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 30.

    @13- i agree that he is not overrated. I think he is the most exiting prospect i have seen for years and certainly above Oscar and Lucas Moira at the moment. Unfortunately Pele's ridiculous claim that he was better than Messi didn't do him any favours but when he comes to Europe i am sure the world will see what a great player he is. I agree with the writer that this needs to be soon to really push himself and fulfill his potential, and also to prepare better for WC2014.

    People saying he is overrated either haven't seen enough of him IMO.

    There is also a problem in that he earns a fortune in Brazil adcertising at least 7 or 8 products (maybe more), and he is by far and away the number 1 sporting superstar here. This means his salary demands would be extremely high in Europe where players do less advertisements.

    I am amazed how well he manages to cope with all the demands on him here and still produce good performances on the pitch. A move to Europe would also help him focus more on just football and improving his game with better players.

  • Comment number 31.

    22.At 12:36 20th Aug 2012, yakubusdiet wrote:

    I think you overlook the results in the world cup...........

    "Mexico eliminated France." - So did South Africa, are they better also?
    "South Korea eliminated Greece." - Then got knocked out to Uruguay.
    "USA topped England's group, and eliminated Slovenia." - on goals scored, poor england, and slovenia hardly powerhouses.
    Ghana eliminated Serbia.
    Japan eliminated Denmark.
    New Zealand finished above Italy. - So are NZ better than Italy? Would they have reached finals of Euros?
    Switzerland needed only to beat Honduras to go through, but drew 0-0.

    "The world has changed. I strongly contend that South Korea and Mexico's Olympic teams are superior to Sweden's senior national team." - Based on what? When has a CONCACAF / Asian / african team ever reached a semi final not on home soil?

  • Comment number 32.

    I'm shocked at some of the comments on here. "Pele played in Brazil his entire career..." C'mon. Are you for real? "How many have their been in hte past though?

    What about the likes of Denilson, Adriano, Robinho etc?"

    Please don't compare Neymar to Denilson. Neymary is NOT overhyped. He's won the Libertadores, Brazilan Championship, and already has 20 caps for Brazil. The class is there. He does need to move to be able to improve though. He was neutralized by Barca in the Fifa Club World Cup last year and Mexico handled him well. Tim is spot on that the defenses in Brazil are rubbish. Unfortunately, he will end up moving to a "big" club and suffer because of it. Barca would be the ideal place for him to play. Quality footballers and quality people to teach him humility and professionalism. Moving to Mordor and having Schmegal as his coach would only inflate his sense of entitlement.

  • Comment number 33.

    22.At 12:36 20th Aug 2012, yakubusdiet wrote:
    "Argentina's crushing win in Germany last week reinforced my opinion that world football currently looks like this:" - IT WAS A FRIENDLY!! England "crushed" Italy. Does that mean they're better now? Spain drew with Costa Rica, are they the new powerhouses of football?

    Top Table: Spain, Argentina - Based on what? Argentina have not won anything in years.

    Second Tier: Germany, Brazil, Uruguay, Italy.

    "Third Tier: Portugal, England, France, Holland, Chile, Ghana, Ivory Coast, USA, Mexico, Japan, South Korea." - How are Ivory Coast in there? Ghana? Chile? Based on what?

    "Fourth Tier: Columbia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Belgium, Turkey, Russia, Greece, Switzerland, Sweden, Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal, Australia." - You're seriously putting Russia, Greece, Sweden in with Ecuador and Colombia and Venezuela.

    Oh dear, have to shake my head at this. There's no logic or sense to this tiering system.

  • Comment number 34.

    Perhaps he does, perhaps he doesn't. The best Brazil teams have comprised players mainly playing in Brazil - 1970 and 1982. If he does come to Europe he should steer well clear of the EPL as he will learn nothing in that skill-free competition. Portugal, Spain, Italy, France or Germany would help him develop.

  • Comment number 35.

    Morning Tim

    My only previous criticism of Neymar, was that he looked a lightweight, having seen him [in the flesh] at the Olympics he's certainly developed physically. I can see your comparison with Best and why you made it.

    Tim, would it not be better to wait until the World Cup is over for Neymar to move to Europe? I am thinking of what's best for the lad and Brasil.

    Has Neymar been asked his views on a move, is he mentally prepared for the move? I'm like you, I loved my roaming life, having worked and lived in several countries but it is not always beneficial to the individual. So many cannot make the move work for them and it certainly hasn't always worked for the footballer.

    I know you have discussed the reasons S Americans are forced to leave, such as family dependency, financial, agents, clubs etc. Is Neymar subject to those pressures?

    For me Neymar is one of those jaw droppers, I streamed a match, late one night and saw this 17 yr old kid, it didn't take a genius to know that I was watching a special talent. I just hope he makes the right choices for himself.

  • Comment number 36.

    33. USA in tier 3 ahead of Russia and Sweden was the glaring error for me. Zlatan alone is better than the USA XI!

  • Comment number 37.

    At 13:30 20th Aug 2012, meredith_hunter wrote:

    Perhaps he does, perhaps he doesn't. The best Brazil teams have comprised players mainly playing in Brazil - 1970 and 1982. If he does come to Europe he should steer well clear of the EPL as he will learn nothing in that skill-free competition. Portugal, Spain, Italy, France or Germany would help him develop.

    *PL skill free league, did the following learn nothing? Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso, Thierry Henry, Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas etc.. None of them had the same profile before coming here!

  • Comment number 38.

    Tim, are you part of Neymar's marketing team too? Because that is all he really is, Ney-marketing. His assist against Corinthians was good, given the better pass before by Ganso and the horrific defending, but your paragraph on the matter would imply to unaware people that Santos did not have a horrifically bad offside goal given to them. In fact, if I remember correctly, there were a sequence of three offsides, one after the other of which the last was dastardly blatant, which resulted in the goal. This was much more important in the match than Neymar and his assist, but is not exactly good for Neymar's image if it is mentioned, right?


  • Comment number 39.

    Nice one Tim, always a great read. I would really just echo the comments stating the obvious fact that Neymar is already a fantastic player. You only need your eyes to see that, if you need to be reassured by the matter of what league he does it at that says you haven't seen much of him playing.

    I disagree with those people saying that he is too selfish as a player. I think that he makes the wrong decisions sometimes - as all 20 year olds do - but he seems to know when to move it on and when to try something himself. His problem as far as I can see, is trying the spectacular move too often when he should just knock it past a defender and use his pace or quick feet.

    He will surely end up at Barca or Madrid, and he's clearly ready for that standard already. The question is would it benefit him more to sign for a side that won't win most of their games easily? I think the Italian league would be most beneficial for him at this stage in his career, but I don't see that move happening for financial reasons.

    It was rumoured long ago that Barca had signed a deal with Santos that makes it very unlikely that they won't try to sign him - if that's true it should come down to can they afford it or do Madrid want to bid higher.

  • Comment number 40.

    What he needs to do is cut out the falling over at the slightest touch. Talented as he undoubtedly is there is no way he'll be considered a great player if he continually dives and feigns injury. I know that perhaps that is part and parcel of the modern game but once he gets that reputation he's going to find it hard to shake.

    Can't forgive him either for mistakenly calling Scottish fans racists after our game against Brazil at Wembley.

  • Comment number 41.

    M0r0nito @38

    I didn't see the match in question, so therefore I cannot possibly comment.

    But to be fair, Tim is discussing a player rather than a match. Yes he chose that game as an example but he could easily used another [one that i had watched] and i could of made a similar comment as you have.

    Unfortunately it is the marketting side of football that often dominates the game, it's a big sell and has been for many years now. But football still retains it's basics and they are the reason that so many of us love the game itself.

    I've seen so many players over the years and this lad Neymar does have it all in him. For me, purely as a footballer, Neymar is like a throwback to a time gone by and there are not that many like him in todays game.

    I suppose you could say Neymar represents two camps, top class footballer and a PR man's dream. Can they both exist? The simple answer is they have to.

  • Comment number 42.

    Yes, Neymar does need to leave Brazil. What good player wants to stay there and play in the Sao Paulo State Championship? That's like Manchester United having to play Rochdale and Bury every season. The Brazilian league is only good as a breeding ground for big european clubs, and Neymar wont get any better there.

    He was one of the best signings i ever made on football manager, and that was the 2010 version. He seems to have been around a while; why hasn't he moved to Europe?

  • Comment number 43.

    Tim, that was one insightful article!

    As a Brazilian who lives abroad and end up watching Neymar sporadically, especially in tougher international matches, I am yet to see a single performance from him to indicate he is remotely as good as people (in Brazil) claim he is.

    #30 good points about focus on playing football; I think that helps Tim's case for a move as well.

    Tim has some strong support on his side: Dunga and Ronaldo have also said Neymar should move to Europe to develop.

  • Comment number 44.

    @41 - Londoner in exile returns

    Neymar does have talent but it makes up about 40% of him at most. The other 60% is media hype and marketing. I have watched Neymar since he was a young guy, about 17, to this young adult he is now and I must say, he looked more promising at 17/18. During that time, it was really magical to see him at his best and I thought to myself, if he remains committed and focused he could well become the greatest in his time, perhaps even surpassing Messi. Now, you rarely see this. He has become petulant and arrogant to the point where you look at him and you think he thinks he has the God given right to wear a Brazil shirt. He plays badly and he never comes off. His reputation as a diver and moaner is true. In Brazil I will dare say that a lot of free kicks/penalties he gets he only does so because he is Neymar. He has gone from being a real gem to Brazil's Balotelli, still talented and still a match winner but nothing of what he could so easily have been.

  • Comment number 45.

    As another poster pointed out, Santos were lucky yesterday as one of their goals was certainly offside.

    However, I disagree with another poster who says Neymar is selfish. Sure, sometimes he shows off and takes on four or five players at the same time but he is a superb passer. It was from his corner that Santos scored the winner yesterday.

    It also looks as though Santos will be losing Paulo Henrique Ganso to São Paulo. However, there are doubts over the stiff price Santos is demanding. If the deal does not go ahead and Ganso remains unsatisfied perhaps he will finally end up in Europe ahead of Neymar.

  • Comment number 46.

    I think it would be ludicrous to suggest that Neymar could have a similar impact on European football to what Ronaldinho and Kaka did. He seems far too lightweight and slightly lazy. I agree with the posts that suggest a liking to Robinho and I can see him having a dwindling impact on the game over here. I think players like Robinho and Neymar sort of prove the decline in talent produced from Brazil since the turn of the century. It just doesn't stand up to what was coming out during the 90's. I think this can be said for most of South America now too, and Maxi Rodriguez confirmed as much recently. I fear for Oscar and Lucas who have just made the leap across the Atlantic, I think their fees were far from realistic when gaging their ability - but I hope they prove me wrong.

  • Comment number 47.

    To me, Neymar has the mentality that promoting the Neymar brand is vastly more important than helping your team win. I get the feeling with Neymar that he would rather score two wonder goals and his team lose, than to end up on the winning team with "just" a good solid performance. Why should Neymar move he has 3 things going for him

    1) He has several lucrative sponsorship deals
    2) He is very much a huge fish in a small pond
    3) He is able to pull rabbits out of the hat every week in front of his adoring fans

    From what I've seen he is relatively negative about moving, but its his life

  • Comment number 48.

    m0r0nito @44

    Yes as i wrote earlier, like you my first sighting of him was at 17 when he looked amazing for the age.

    Your like myself, when you write 'IF' he remains focused he has a chance to surpass ...... but is that not always the way when we see these young extremely talented guys with the ball at their feet.

    I've seen many young players in 50 years of watching football, many are bigged up by agents, clubs, after all it is just about the money. But Neymar is a genuine talent who has time on his side to become one of the greats.

    It is why i asked, what i think is the most important question earlier, the mentality of a player, his actions, how he conducts himself because the future development of the possible greatness as a footballer, depends as much on that as it does raw talent.

  • Comment number 49.

    Comment number 18.At 12:06 20th Aug 2012, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:
    13.At 11:29 20th Aug 2012, Vox Populi wrote:

    How many have their been in hte past though?

    What about the likes of Denilson, Adriano, Robinho etc?

    To call a 20 yo world class is just ridiculous. The fact that he's been brought into the Brazil is a sign of desperation rather than his quality. The likes of Robinho, Pato, Kaka etc were not good enough in the last WC, so it's a desperate attempt to try an alternative.

    Oxlaide is in the England team. Is he going to be the new Bobby Charlton?

    It's a false comparison to compare Neymar with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

    Neymar- Brazil caps: 20 Goals: 9

    Oxlade Chamberlain England caps: 5 Goals: 0

    Neymar Club first team games: 188 Goals: 111

    Oxlade Chamberlain Club first team games: 69 Goals: 14

    I think Neymar has done a little more than Oxlade-Chamberlain, even if many have the view that the Brazilian league and indeed any non-European league is some minor backwater division.

    Perhaps when you call Neymar 'overrated' you have Pele's Messi comparison in mind, I don't know. But every time I've seen Neymar play, I have thought he has world class ability- he was disappointing in the Olympic final but up until then was probably the best player in the tournament.

  • Comment number 50.

    Does anyone really doubt he wouldn't make it at barca? He would have players like messi, iniesta, xavi, fabregas, etc... around him. It's quite hard NOT to shine. You'll always get opportunities to score with these players in your team.

    If he joined any other team I would have some doubts that he would make it but if he joins barca, I'm quite sure he will.

  • Comment number 51.

    I always though it was a shame that Pele guy never left his comfort zone...

  • Comment number 52.

    One thing I've noticed about some of the comments so far.

    Neymar is over confident taking on four or five players therefore he makes the wrong decisions during a match or suggesting he is not a team player.

    That's what i want to see in a player if they have the talent of a Neymar. Someone who wants the ball, someone who believes that they can do something special with a football, in other words an individual.

    The life of the game is often coached out of it. Yes it is a team game but played by individuals. But when you see these types of players it becomes special.

    When people compare Brasil 70 to the current Spain team, I always think of one as being highly disciplined and the other being carefree and playing without handcuffs. Both great teams but that special 'i don't believe i just saw that moment' only comes from individuality, it's off the cuff.

    I said earlier, Neymar looks a throwback to another time when he's on the pitch, you watch him with expectation of that special moment. Agreed it does not always happen but at least with Neymar, it can happen.

  • Comment number 53.

    49.At 15:33 20th Aug 2012, Vox Populi wrote:

    My point is that you cannot call anybody world class at 20 yo. Especially someone that has not played at the highest level.
    As somebody pointed out, playing in the championship is like wayne rooney playing vs Man city, bolton, bury, wigan, rochale, oldham etc. Course he's going to look good against poor opposition.

    A better english example then is wayne rooney
    Games for england (at 20): 28, 11 goals
    Club level: 132 games, 42 goals. (More difficult league though).

    He's not become world player of the year though has he? Or hte world's best.

  • Comment number 54.

    Barcelona have already made a €14m (£11.6m) downpayment to Brazilian club Santos for Neymar. Barcelona president Sandro Rosell closed the deal at the Copa America last July, agreeing a fee of €58m.

    Santos and Barcelona are still negotiating when the player will arrive with Barça wanting him at the end of next season and Santos preferring 2014.

  • Comment number 55.

    All these people commentating on the 'problems' in English football need to get a grip quite frankly. We get stuck in in the English game, 'put a shift in' and that's what our games all about(and all the better for it). I don't believe it's more cultured to allow players to get an unfair advantage by diving. There's nothing worse than seeing a player rolling around or belly flopping to the floor because a gust of wind from the movement of an opposition player(it's pathetic). At the same time i don't prefer people being hacked right left and center but if you can't actually defend what's the point in playing football. We play firm and fair and at the end of the day if you really are a world class talent you should be able to play your game against any opponent. P.S i couldn't careless what players go where as long as we keep having seasons like the last, there was no league in the WORLD that could of matched ours for intensity at the end.

  • Comment number 56.

    eduard @53

    I think that world class tag has so many interpretations. Myself, i guess mine would be that the individual player would not look out of place ANYWHERE but if they did it would be because he was so much better than the rest of the players.

    For me, greatness is entirely different, no matter what the sport is, greatness stands out. They have something different and they show it, good examples would be Nadia Comaneci, in gymnastics or Torvill & Dean, ice dancing. You don't have to know anything about the sport but if you watch the sport they just stand out. They take their sport to another level.

    Pele, Maradona Di Stefano did it and now Messi is doing it. They take it to another level.

    Greatness also carries expectation when you watch them. The funny part is when they don't produce that one moment, you can be disappointed but then you think about it and you still see they are miles better than the rest.

  • Comment number 57.

    56.At 16:27 20th Aug 2012, Londoner in exile returns wrote:

    And I'd largely agree with you on that. BUT does Neymar fall into either category? No. Is he "overrated" given many have already labelled with these adjectives? Yes.

    Thoughts on the Bury v Brentford game? Did you go to Gigg Lane to watch it?

  • Comment number 58.

    eduard @57

    Oh! YOU HAVE DONE IT NOW, resurrecting the Brentford game, yes i was there and I must carry the burden of the curse. Brentford had the possession [Bury carried little threat first half] the second half was much better as a game of football. All in all i saw it as two points dropped for the Bees. But you can see the potential in them for this season.

    I'm off to Goodison shortly, for tonight's game, hoping for a cracker but what's the betting it won't be.

    Yes Neymar, he has that one thing that is needed, massive potential and his happens to be way above the usual but that's it so far. Just hope he makes the best of what he has because i think the game needs to see the individuality of players like he could be.

  • Comment number 59.

    58.At 16:42 20th Aug 2012, Londoner in exile returns wrote:

    Hehehe well I thought of you when I saw the result pop up. I'll be watching Brentford v Crawley next month. Should be an interesting game.

    THoughts on the game tonight?

    As I;ve said with Neymar, test yourself against organised European defences and if he still stars then he'll rightly be called world class.

  • Comment number 60.

    From what I have seen of Neymar for Brazil he looks technically gifted and a real prospect. He should be a stand out player at the 2014 World Cup. I dont hear too many people saying Pele was poor because he only played in Brazil!
    Im sure Neymar will make the move to Europe probably to a Spanish side in the near future, maybe as a replacement in a few years for Villa at Barca?
    If Neymar was so concerned about plying his trade in Europe he would have surely pushed a transfer through by now. Neymar probably wants to remain scoring goals and playing well for Santos whilst getting physically better and also mentally sharper before he makes the move. Nothing wrong with him playing football in Brazil

  • Comment number 61.

    People who think he's overrated are retarded deluded football fans. I think theres a good reason he won 2011 Fifa goal of the year? He is more talented than Messi and Ronaldo but that doesn't make him a better player, only time will tell. I really hope he signs in Europe sooner rather than later and fulfils his potential, although i can't see him joining the EPL. So if Carroll, a clueless donkey who should be playing at sunday league lever is worth 35mil, i think Neymar should go for at least 100mil.

  • Comment number 62.

    How could you possibly compare this kid to George Best?!
    Ha ha ha ha ha!
    The hype of football these days is ridiculous.

  • Comment number 63.

    eduard @59

    Tonights game, well I think, if they had asked both Utd and Everton, who they would like to face in the opening game, I think both would have put this way down the list for their choice of opening.

    I wonder if like me, you think it's a hard game for Utd [could of been easier] but an enormous ask for Everton, considering they usually start slowly.

    As I'll be with my usual Evertonian mates, the last player they will want to see is RVP on the pitch, he usually plays well against them, he scored a fantastic goal for Arsenal at Goodison, a couple of seasons ago. One of those moments when it leaves the foot it's a goal.

    I want to see him on at some stage because i have always thought he operated best as a lone striker with good support from midfield [at the euros he had zero support]
    Now he will presumably have to play in a partnership with Rooney. So that's going to be interesting to see.

  • Comment number 64.

    Please can we stop with the 'Pele played his career in Brazil' stuff. It has no bearing on today's situation. There's a reason that the great Chilean defender Elias Figueroa chose to stay in Brazil rather than move to Europe in the 70s - in Brazil at that time he was consistently coming up against the best in the world. Times have changed. It is not an argument that works now.

    Part of the dynamic of change is the theme of this article - that the new global economic architecture has created the diverse challenges facing Neymar (staying put) and Oscar (moving big).

    But the new co-incides with the old, as the move of central midfelder Romulo makes clear. Before the Olympics he made the move from Vasco da Gama to Spartak Moscow - he scored on his debut at the weekend. Had he waited just a few weeks then a bigger offer might well have come in - I'm told that plenty of clubs were impressed. But Vasco were desperate for a quick sale because they needed cash to pay the wage bill - they were behind the clock and happy to take the first offer.

  • Comment number 65.

    herbi j @62
    How could you possibly compare this kid to George Best?!
    Ha ha ha ha ha!

    If you had seen George at a young age and watched this guy as much at the same age. He is definitely in the same mould.

    Now if he turns out to be another Best that's great but that's what we are all wondering, to use a racing term 'will he train on'

  • Comment number 66.

    Tim, what do you think of accusations, like #2 Jay Krishna, of Neymar being selfish?

    Can you give us some stats of Neymar at the Olympics? I am under the impression that Neymar contributed or made assists for most goals scored by other brazilian players.

  • Comment number 67.

    Tim, I agree that you can´t compare the brazilian league of today to that of Pelé´s time.

    but, how can we EVER hope of going back to something like in Pelé´s time, when plenty of the best players in the world played in Brazil, if we keep selling players?

    Going to Europe is the best option for Neymar and the Brazil national team. But not the best option to the brazilian league.

    It something of a paradox. Our best players should go to Europe, because the challenges are greater there, and thus they will become better players.

    But HOW to have better challenges for these players in Brazil, if we keep selling the best players so they will become best players in Brazil??

    The only way to improve the brazilian league, and for it to really become a challenge for Neymar and other players, is to fill the league with the best players, starting with NOT SELLING the best players to Europe.

    If the best players go to Europe to face strong opposition, the brazilian league will get weaker and weaker, and more reason you will have to argue that our best players should move to Europe.

  • Comment number 68.


    Good article on the differences in challenge for Oscar and Neymar.

    However, these guys are barely 20. Even if they have taken the wrong decisions and "lose" the next 1-2 years, so what? Their prime will still be 5 years beyond the 2014 WC. Plenty of time to develop.

    I've already heard the view that this current crop of Brazilian players won't be peaking at 2014, but at 2018. Being a Brazil supporter and wanting to see the team win on home soil, I hope this view is wrong, but it makes a lot of sense.

  • Comment number 69.

    #67 it's not just the players. It's the overall low quality of the league and matches. It's the low quality of many of the stadium. It's the abysmal quality of refereeing.

    If Brazil now has the money to truly develop the league, isn't it the perfect time to professionalize the referee profession? You know referees in Brazil until today are amateur? They have other jobs/careers. Time to come up with standards of what is a yellow, red, foul or just mere normal contact in the game.
    Just watch a Brazilian league match immediately after EPL... The difference isn't just in quality/technique, but also intensity, organization, spectacle.

    Then we move into scheduling... state championships without vacation or (proper) pre-season? No time for friendlies to develop and face better/different competition.

    THe Brazilian league has many problems and they are related to organzation/infrastructure. And there is a lot of money involved in keeping things the way they are (by the ppl making the money now).

    These things can get better in time. However, I agree with Tim that Brazil, as a national team, cannot wait. We must not use Neymar to make the league better. There are other ways (as I wrote above and also by keeping other good players) to improve the league without scarifying the national tem.

    Why would people expect Neymar to do more than what he has done so far internationally -- close to nothing -- in 2014, without moving abroad first, is beyond me.

  • Comment number 70.

    35. At 13:35 20th Aug 2012, Londoner in exile returns wrote:
    Morning Tim

    My only previous criticism of Neymar, was that he looked a lightweight, having seen him [in the flesh] at the Olympics he's certainly developed physically. I can see your comparison with Best and why you made it.

    Tim, would it not be better to wait until the World Cup is over for Neymar to move to Europe? I am thinking of what's best for the lad and Brasil.

    Has Neymar been asked his views on a move, is he mentally prepared for the move? I'm like you, I loved my roaming life, having worked and lived in several countries but it is not always beneficial to the individual. So many cannot make the move work for them and it certainly hasn't always worked for the footballer.

    I know you have discussed the reasons S Americans are forced to leave, such as family dependency, financial, agents, clubs etc. Is Neymar subject to those pressures?


    Quit trying to suck up to Tim.

  • Comment number 71.

    @Rob: in overall, most leagues have low quality matches. When I watch Barça or Real Madrid, or big Italian clubs, those seem good leagues. However, if I watch other spanish clubs or Italian clubs playing, the quality is ALSO ABYSMAL.

    Low quality of refereeing? Doesnt look much lower than other leagues. i have watched plenty of european football to know the refereeing there is not that much better. Just this weekend, at the same time we had the abysmal 2nd Santos Goal against Corinthians, Chelsea was also scoring a goal with an abysmal offside mistake from the linesman.

    As for referees being amateurs, thats the same in every league in the world.

    I agree with your points about the national calendar.

    HOWEVER, Tim´s point was about Neymar facing strong opposition and learning to cope with less space, etc.

    That has NOTHING to do with calendar. That is related to the quality of players in the league.

    And I do not expect Neymar to do better internationally. I support my club ABOVE the national team. A better league, with more money for my club, is better than the national team doing well in 2014.

    Thats the same reasoning most supporters in Europe have nowadays. Club above nation.

  • Comment number 72.

    I just started reading the comments and had to stop, so apologies if someone has said this later on in the thread.

    1) The arrogance of most of the comments coming from (not surprisingly, Europeans) is amazing. The thought that the "real" test of a footballer is whether he can succeed in big European clubs is a joke. Yes, the premier league is better than the Brazilian as a whole. But are your coaches better? Surely you cannot credit the quality of Brazilian players simply to some mystical element in Brazil. Are the facilities better? NO, not compared to the top Brazilian clubs that are making huge leaps in terms of facilities and infra-structure. Are you better organized tactically? On average I would say yes. But teams like Corinthians, Internacional, Sao Paulo and other smaller clubs have all had teams that are not only on equal terms, but BEAT european clubs. (Look at Sao paulo v liverpool, Inter v Barca) etc.

    2) The difference in terms of league quality comes mainly from incompetent management by the Directors rather than footballing quality. We won 5 world cups and they were not because our players played in some silly league in Europe.

    3) The premiership is better, but the Italian? Spanish? Dutch? German? Greek? Give it a rest, they are a dump and any Brazilian would give any of those champions a good run for their money, and yes, I am including Barca and Real.

    4) yes the refereeing is the worst in the world. I can't see how that would somehow make the premier league better though? Maybe better to watch, but nothing else. The issue with Brazil is refereeing that end up encouraging diving and actively shelter mini stars like robinho and neymar and then lead to ridiculous haircuts. He should not be capped until he fixes that hair.

    I think Neymar should stay, develop in Brazil and we will see what happens, if he is good he will last in the long run. Robinho would have flopped eventually in Brazil as well. Brazil is more than capable of creating talented players, that are not only technically gifted but also physically powerful, we just need tweaks to the league and a HUGE improvement in terms of the professional management of clubs and then will no longer need europe. Yes, the argument that pele played in Brazil all his life is stupid. But most of the players that have ever played in Europe have learnt to play football in Brazil and that will not change.

  • Comment number 73.

    I actually think Neymar is doing the right thing to stay where he is for the moment. Ultimately he's still only 20 and the reputation that, rightly or wrongly, he has got means that he's most likely to go to Barca or Real. Seeing as both clubs already boast a number of impressive forwards I can't see him breaking into either of those sides right now, so better to be a first choice at Santos than be a reserve in the big league going into the world cup. Kerlon was a player who had high stock as a youngster in Brazil and he lost his way after an early move. Would be a shame if Neymar moved too early and went the same way. But without doubt if he wants to be a true great he will need to move at some point in the near future.

  • Comment number 74.

    It's inevitable that he will eventually leave, would like to say he'd go to the EPL but very much doubt that'll happen.

  • Comment number 75.

    Swap Gervinho for Neymar. Throw in about £20 million. Champions League football. Bargain.

  • Comment number 76.

    Tim's right to say most top Brazilians in Europe benefitted from being at a slightly smaller club early on - perhaps though Santos can fulfil the role of a PSV Eindhoven or Benfica for him, and be his learning curve. On one hand the article is saying he's away playing so much international football; on the other saying he can't learn much playing Brazilian league teams. Well, he's not playing much league football is he, if he's away playing so much international football?

    Furthermore, the next world cup is in Brazil - how advantageous it would be to have a core of a squad very familiar with local conditions, rather than a European-ised group of players. Stay Neymar, you can move after the World Cup!

  • Comment number 77.

    I hope Neymar and Ganso go to Europe but i can't see them playing in the EPL, without at least testing the water in Spain or PSG first. Many shall make the comparison with Robinho and Man City but that is too ignore the successes of Tevez, Aguero, Meirleles etc

    The South American players have come on greatly in the last 10 years but i think the physicality and rough and tumble of the EPL would be a problem for Neymar. Also i doubt more of the histrionics he pulled off against Scotland last year would go down well.

    In terms of your Tim's reply about Ecuador i have to agree. Although they played well against Chile I still think they will just miss out on qualification. With 4 teams to qualify directly and then a play off spot versus an Asian team their is hope but i feel that Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Venezuela (on current form and Copa America) are stronger teams.

    In addition there are perennial qualifiers Paraguay (although poor this term) and Colombia (with Pabo, Falcoa, Martinez etc) to contend with.

    Indeed, Ecuador are rotten away from Ecuador but they are no great shakes in Quito either. Apart from Antonio Valencia and Christain "Chucho" Benitez there is not much to scream about in their team.

    Next months qualifiers should tell us a lot more: home to Bolivia then away to Uruguay

  • Comment number 78.

    An interesting blog.

    I think that Neymar will move to Europe in the next 2 years, probably going to either Barcelona or Madrid.

    I really enjoyed watching him in the Olympics - if he stays focused and improves his decision making then I think he has what it takes to be a truly great player.

  • Comment number 79.

    At 12:36 20th Aug 2012, yakubusdiet wrote:

    Argentina's crushing win in Germany last week reinforced my opinion that world football currently looks like this:

    Top Table: Spain, Argentina

    Second Tier: Germany, Brazil, Uruguay, Italy.

    Third Tier: Portugal, England, France, Holland, Chile, Ghana, Ivory Coast, USA, Mexico, Japan, South Korea.

    Fourth Tier: Columbia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Belgium, Turkey, Russia, Greece, Switzerland, Sweden, Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal, Australia.

    I'm not sure what you are basing this on but it's pretty laughable. Spain at the moment are ahead of everyone else. How can South Korea be put in the same bracket as England or Portugal at the same level as USA? Also how can Croatia not make it into the top 4 tiers?

  • Comment number 80.

    Neymar will eventually move to Europe, more than likely after the 2014 WC. He'll be 24 by then, still very young. It's impossible to tell if he'll be successful or not in Europe. He's certainly talented, but talent isn't everything in pro footy. We've seen at least two patters of young talented Brazilian footballers in Europe in the last 20 years. a) the Denilson path: never quite fulfulling the expectations placed on him b) the Ronaldo path: growing exponentially until he became one of the best ever. Path "a" is much more common, with different degrees of success/failure. I personally think Neymar will do very well, but not better than Messi, as Pele' would want the world to believe.

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    67 - an appeal to patriotism is not going to be enough to keep Brazil's best players at home. It has to be made more attractive for them to do so

    1 - the calendar debate is fundamental. The top players are well aware that the state championships as currently constituted are a waste of time. Get rid!

    2 - top players also want to play in front of huge crowds. Brazilian football urgently needs a debate about this, including ticket prices, transport links, security. Average crowds in the Brazilian first division are lower than in the US Major League. Seedorf with Botafogo has played his last two home games in frint of 3,500 and 2,500 respectively. What on earth must he be thinking?

  • Comment number 83.

    He's probably thinking... What the hell am i doing here!!

  • Comment number 84.

    Interesting points Tim.

    I know when i watch the Brasillian league or most of S America's top league matches online, the crowds do have a sparse look about them.

    Is it the cost for you guys, TV or are you just overloaded with football? It would be Interesting to hear the S American guys who reply with posts, for their views.

    The point about security at matches, World Cup in under 2 years, does not sound good. I always thought at international level, the crowds were different to the usual club supporters.

  • Comment number 85.

    well, clearly many of the people writting in here have never watched the brazilian championship or the libertadores da america.the brazilian championship is much more competitive than 99% of the european championships, there is not like in spain, uk or france where always the same rich teams win the cups and there will be always more than 4 or 5 teams fighting in the top of the table.fact when santos won the libertadores da america in 2011 neymar had to play against argentinians, uruguaians and paraguaians and again if you have never watched a match of the libertadores you have no idea of how hard and agressive it can be and clearly you will have no idea of what you talking about.Pele probably the best player ever have never played in any european club.Messi is argentinian, plays in spain and have never proved to be the same great player when playing for the argentinian national team.i would love to see rooney playing in the brazilian or argentinian championship, i doubt that he would be as effective as he is against wigan, wolves and blackburn.

  • Comment number 86.

    Isn't Neymar promised to Barca next year or the year after? That would be the perfect club for him. No other club understands how to develop flair players like they do. I'd love to see Neymar playing in Europe. I think the reign of the dogged player is over. Hazzard looked good in a Chelsea shirt the other day, Kagawa had some nice touches this evening against Everton, the game needs class acts like Neymar, least football be reduced to a 90 minute war of attrition.

  • Comment number 87.

    27 ragga @85

    Yep i've watched many libertadores games, they certainly are competitive.

    Suprised you mentioned Rooney, the thought of him playing in South America, raised a chuckle from me.

  • Comment number 88.

    I used to coach under 9' and 11'. All i ever did with them was hit balls and tell them to control it, have a look and pass or run with it, which ever the best option. If they were left footed encourage them to use the right, visa versa... It's a simple game. The Brazilian way.

  • Comment number 89.

    cionstable @86

    Kagawa had some nice touches this evening against Everton

    Not entirely sure that Kagawa will make it here, I was at the game tonight and he was class. His movement off the ball was top notch, the only problem was, who he was playing with. No one else was moving and they were certainly was not on his wavelength.

    You could say the players will get used to Kagawa, if I was a Utd supporter my worry would be, that he gets used to the rest and drops to their level.

  • Comment number 90.

    I totally agree with #25

  • Comment number 91.

    I totally agree with Jay Krishnsa Neymar is still not a team player, its natural for good players to be sometimes selfish but great ones know they cannot do it all these are things he needs to learn also the diving and play acting to win free kicks is not sportsmanlike he should take a page from Messi in that respect already Messi is by far a better player because he is a team player Neymar has yet to learn to be one....

  • Comment number 92.

    @3.... Are u stil living in the 18th century...? Man, you really could do with something better than comingup with how well "PELE" did...!

    @others..... In terms of Neymar, I think he is a bit of a selfish & over-rated player. The guy has the ability but dont have enough ability as someone like Cristiano Ronaldo (who is also selfish) to win matches by him self. Maybe Neymar might improve & may win matches against quality opponents by him self, but its yet to be seen. He is never going to be a team player, its just not in him...!

    Hope he becomes a great player, as most of us like to see a football star from Brazil again. But I highly douby if Neymar could be next Ronaldo, Zidane, Cristiano or Messi for that matter, I think he is still an over-rated kid and probably might prove me wrong, until then let's not over-hype a certain individual when there are so many more young players are good as him or even better that dont get the lime light...!

  • Comment number 93.

    Why shouldn't South Korea and USA be bracketed with England and Portugal?

    Their results in the last World Cup and their continental championships suggest they are probably better teams.

    Portugal are pretty ordinary apart from Ronaldo, whereas England consist of three fading has-beens (Cole, Gerrard, Terry) plus an under-achieving Rooney.

    Neymar can learn from playing club football in Europe, but the Mexico and South Korean Olympic teams he recently played are frankly of similar quality to England or Portugal.

  • Comment number 94.

    By the way, I was at Old Trafford when Neymar created Brazil's second and third goals v bronze medalists South Korea.

    And I was at Wembley when Menezes let him down in the final. First he started with three defensive midfielders, leaving Neymar, Damiao and Oscar totally outnumbered.

    Then he emptied the midfield and threw on Pato, Hulk and Lucas Moura, which forced Oscar deeper and isolated Neymar and the other strikers in a 4-2-4.

    Neymar will work best with both Oscar and Ganso in an attacking midfield trio.

  • Comment number 95.

    @Tim: I guess Seedorf is thinking he should have gone to Grêmio. The average attendance has been 24 thousand in the Olimpico. Not on par with european attendances, but certainly better than most attendances in Brazil.

    I agree about the calendar and attendance problems. But having the good players in the league is also important. Obviously, we need to tackle the THREE problems, not only one.

    Holding Neymar and other players is not worth if the other two problems are not tackled. But at the SPECIFIC problem of Neymar not facing good enough competition, that can only be solved by holding players.

    you cant have good competition in Brazil by selling players to Europe.

  • Comment number 96.

    Nice post Tim @2 I agree with Jay Krishna. Neymar was being selfish.There were many opportunities to pass to a team mate and he lost the ball. At international level this should not happen.

    My Football Blog

  • Comment number 97.

    @Shampraveen: and yet, even being selfish, he was still probably leader in assistances. I dont have the stats to prove it however. Does anyone have?

  • Comment number 98.

    Good stuff from Tim as usual and which highlights a fundamental weakness in the Brazilian league set up that still exists... the state championships.

    Some years ago I was living in Porto Alegre and for half the year the only state game which mattered for fellow Gremistas was the Gre-Nal. Fortunately this was in the era of Felipao and Gremio were always extensively involved in the Libertadores.

    The regional championships have to exist due the travelling distances but for the top clubs they are restrictive.

  • Comment number 99.

    Neymar is one of the most overrated players that I have ever seen in football. He is selfish ,not a team player at all and has a bad attitude. The whole issue of people stating that he is a world class player is unfounded as he hasn’t played anywhere other than Santos. Surely, the measure should be someone who has played outside of one club and one country?

    On another note what makes me seethe is the mere fact that the women's section –Santos was closed in 2012 due to lack of sponsorship. The club's president Luis Oliveira closed down the women's team and the men's futsal team because those weren't self-sustaining. It was attributed to the effort of holding Neymar at Santos. Here's a tip - you want to keep your club financially balanced - stop paying Neymar a ridiculously high salary!

    It's a shame the lack of support for women's football in the country. These girls (Santos FC Women) have won many tournaments (Copa Libertadores de Fútbol Femenino 2009, 2010; Campeonato Paulista de Futebol Feminino 2007, 2010, 2011 winners (2009 runner’s up); Liga Nacional 2007;) - to name but few.

    Sacrificing many to keep the one, who incidentally has 15 sponsors is fool hardy and in the end if the money is right (because that is what it always boils down to) will no doubt leave anyway!

    On a National note the women’s team have again risen above and beyond by winning the Campeonato Sudamericano de Fútbol Femenino (South American Women's Football Championship) 1991, 1995, 1998, 2003, 2010 where the men’s national team haven’t won the South American Championship since 1949!! …and messed up badly in the Copa America last year! With Uruguay being the most successful team with 15 titles.

    Too many people give Neymar the excuse of his selfishness down to “well he’s young….” .....He’s 20, he’s a grown man! You know, I was selfish when I was young……..then I turned 13 and grew up!!!!

  • Comment number 100.

    At 03:27 21st Aug 2012, yakubusdiet wrote:

    Why shouldn't South Korea and USA be bracketed with England and Portugal?

    Simply because the first 2 teams are nowhere near as good as the last 2. The Fifa rankings confirm this (although I should add England are definitely not the 3rd best team in the world).

    England certainly have their problems but only lost on penalties to a very good Italian team at the Euros. Portugal lost to World and European champions Spain, again on penalties.


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