Manchester City look set to make a summer bid to bring Brazilian superstar Neymar to the Premier League. Jason Burt of The Telegraph reports that City’s new sporting director, Txiki Begiristain, flew to Brazil last week to hold talks with the Sao Paolo outfit.
It would be a stunning deal if Manchester City could pull it off, as it would undoubtedly send shock waves across the globe. We’ve taken an in-depth look at the proposed transfer. Can City sign Neymar, and what happens if they do?
With a price tag of £32 million, there are very few clubs in the world that could afford to buy Neymar, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be much competition for his signature. In fact, it promises to become something of a bloodbath as the richest clubs in the world flex their financial muscles in order to secure one of the greatest available talents in world football.
It has long been thought that Barcelona had first option to sign Neymar, but if anyone outside the Camp Nou is likely to have the inside track on exactly what the status of such a deal is, then it’s the former Barcelona sporting director, Txiki Begiristain—now gainfully employed at Manchester City.
Begiristain obviously believes that the deal can still be done. City are bound to face intense competition from Barcelona and possibly also Real Madrid and Chelsea, who have both made moves to sign the player in recent seasons.
The future of Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao could have a big bearing as to who might make a major challenge to City’s plans to sign Neymar. With Chelsea and Real Madrid the favourites to sign Falcao, the loser in that particular battle might well decide to seriously challenge City and Barcelona for Neymar this summer.
Neymar has talked about his desire to move to Europe in the past, while keeping his options open by not stating a preference for any particular league. If we’re looking at Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona as possible destinations, though, you would imagine that the Brazilian would prefer a move to one of the Spanish giants.
It’s not just because the weather in Spain would be much more like home than the wet and cold of England. Barca and Real are true giants of the game, while City and Chelsea are undeniably much smaller clubs, albeit ones with colossal spending power thanks to their billionaire owners.
Even if it came down to a Premier League-only bidding war between Chelsea and City, you might imagine that Neymar would opt for cosmopolitan London rather than Manchester, where South American players such as Carlos Tevez have struggled to settle down in the past.
So to make sure that they get their man, City may well have to make an offer to Santos that blows everyone else out of the water and leaves them as Neymar’s only choice. The good news for City fans is that the club has the resources to do just that.
Neymar has the ability to play as a central striker, on the flanks or behind the striker as an attacking midfielder. Such versatility would surely appeal to Roberto Mancini, a manager that often uses adaptable players such David Silva, James Milner, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez in different positions from game to game.
With City normally employing a variation of 4-3-3, Neymar would enjoy the advantage of being able to play right across the attack. A forward line of Neymar alongside Argentinians Aguero and Tevez is a particularly mouthwatering prospect.
The arrival of Neymar is likely to signal the end to the City careers of Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko. The erratic and volatile Balotelli seems to have run out of second chances at the club, while Dzeko has been left frustrated at his lack of starts since signing from Wolfsburg.
Pele believes that it is his fellow countryman Neymar, rather than Lionel Messi, who can lay claim to the title of the best player in the world. The rest of the world might take more convincing and if Neymar’s going to do it, then a move to Europe is essential.
After all, there are those that still argue against Pele’s achievements in the game on the basis that he never came to Europe to test himself at the highest level of club football. The Champions League, perhaps even more than the World Cup, is now the arena where the best players can be judged.
There’s nothing to suggest, however, that Neymar wouldn’t stand out as one of the best players in Europe. His speed, dribbling and finishing ability are already breathtaking and at just 20 years of age, he should get even better.
Better than Messi? The fact that the question can even be realistically asked shows you how much potential is stored in the feet of Neymar.
Since Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa first turned up at Tottenham after winning the 1978 World Cup for Argentina, there has been a steady flow of footballers from South America to England.
Not many have proved a huge success. For every Ardiles there has been a Juan Sebastian Veron who failed to live up to their billing.
Brazilians in particular have struggled. Juninho at Middlesbrough was perhaps the most successful example of the type of Brazilian flair player that we all enjoy to watch, while the more prosaic Gilberto Silva, Sandro and Luca Leiva have excelled in defensive midfield roles, but the list of failures is far bigger.
Manchester City, of course, was the home to the most disappointing Brazilian flop in the Premier League. Robinho was the first of the new brand of superstar signings at City, yet he failed to show his talent consistently and was soon deemed surplus to requirements.
Despite his success on the pitch in a City shirt, Carlos Tevez has struggled to adapt to life in Manchester. A better example for Neymar is Sergio Aguero, who has not only proved a success in the Premier League, but he also seems to have settled in with his young family off the pitch.