Thursday, 27 June 2013

57 Million Euros for Neymar: Bargain of the Century

by Henry Cunnison

(Wiki Commons)
The recently confirmed transfer of Neymar Da Silva Santos Junior, popularly known just as Neymar, the 21 year old Brazilian sensation, from hometown club Santos to Barcelona, was not unexpected. Neymar had been linked with every major club in Europe and the Catalan giants had been suggested as the most likely destination for almost a year. It was, however, controversial. Many still argue that Neymar is overvalued and overrated; they say 57 Million euros is too much for any player that is still, some say, unproven. But they are mistaken. Neymar has not only the ability, but also the commercial value that ensures his transfer will be a success.
The fact is that, even discarding Neymar’s footballing talent, he will boost Barcelona. He is the most marketable athlete, across all sports, in the world, according to Sports Pro magazine. This will be very important for Barcelona, because, despite their great success in previous years, their fan base is still not as international as other big clubs like Manchester United or Real Madrid.

Neymar also has appeal to markets that Barcelona needs to increase its support in- the emerging footballing countries. He is not only a national hero and talisman of his home country, but he also appeals to the whole South American continent. He is also famous in the United States, which Barcelona no doubt recognises as a potential market for expansion. Nor will Neymar’s appeal be weak in Europe. For years he has been hyped as the next big thing, the next best player in the world. This will surely mean that football fans will watch with interest his career in Barcelona. So, in terms of the sheer increase in fans that Barcelona will receive, this transfer makes sense. Probably more importantly, it is likely that Barcelona will make the 57 Million euros back on shirt sales within a year.  This was the case for Real Madrid when they paid £80 million pounds for Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar has a larger fan base than Ronaldo. Half of Brazil will probably buy a Neymar Barcelona shirt.
Neymar’s transfer also makes sense simply from a footballing perspective. He has been called overrated, but the truth is he is probably underrated. Legend Pele (although he is probably biased towards his countryman) has said Neymar is already better than Leo Messi, his new teammate and the man hailed as the best of his generation, perhaps of all time. I would agree with this assertion. At this point, most readers will probably be screaming the common criticism of Neymar: he has so far only played against average-at-best teams in Brazil with Santos. Neymar has scored 54 goals in 103 games for Santos. This, although obviously impressive, may at first not sound world-beating. But Neymar achieved this while he was still developing as a player, was not playing as a straight striker, rather as an advanced midfielder, and was playing at a team that other than him was average. Contrary to popular belief there are good teams in Brazil: Corinthians, Sao Paulo and Fluminense, to name just a few. Neymar often destroyed these teams more or less on his own.
  But even if one considers the Brazilian league sub-par, one cannot lay the same charges against Neymar’s international competition with Brazil. Neymar’s exploits with Brazil lend themselves naturally to comparison with Messi, as they play in similar positions for teams that both play most of their internationals against South American competition. Neymar has scored 23 Goals in 37 games for Brazil, Messi 35 in 82 for Argentina. This shows Neymar already has a better international record then Messi, even though he is still not in the prime of his career and Messi is. The comparison is more dramatic when we consider what Messi had achieved at Neymar’s age. He had scored only 10 international goals. Neymar has so much skill on the ball, so much dribbling ablity, and is such a good finisher that it is hard to argue that any player is better than him. His skill has recently been highlighted during the on-going Confederations Cup, a warm-up for next year’s world cup. Neymar has scored 3 goals in 3 games for the hosts, and has also won plaudits for his all-round play.
Thus Neymar was a steal at 57 Million euros for Barcelona. They will easily make this money back from his financial value and shirt sales. But on top of that they get a player who is already the most skilful player in the world, is a brilliant finisher and, if not the best player in the world, is easily in the top ten. He can only improve, and the combination of Messi and Neymar playing in the same attack will surely strike fear into any opposition’s hearts.

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