Barcelona's Pursuit of Neymar Will Define Sandro Rosell's Presidency
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To many, this Blaugrana circus has become a little vulgar, crass and unnecessary.
Not content with dispensing with over 100 years of tradition by having the first commercial shirt sponsor for the Blaugrana, he is once again risking the wrath of the Barca masses with his single minded desire to secure the Brazilian starlet.
Despite its long-held status as one of the world's biggest football clubs, Barcelona has always been a club of tradition, a club of certain values. A true representative of the working class Catalan.
Owned by it's socio members, Barcelona is "mes que un club"—"more than a club"—a slogan first used by President Narcís de Carreras in his presidential acceptance speech in January 1968, precisely because it has always prided itself on the fact it does things differently.
"The Barca way" if you prefer.
Yet Sandro Rosell seems to be riding roughshod over everything that cules hold dear.
Not a day goes by now without further snippets of Neymar news and the will-he-won't-he saga has become a little embarrassing and irritating.
It's a potential signing that has certainly polarized opinion and you would have to question whether in fact he is actually needed.
Is Neymar really needed at Barcelona?
Football supporters love a trier. A player who is willing to sweat blood for the shirt. A hard working hero that in some way mirrors their own everyday struggles.
Alexis Sanchez would be such a player. Sure, he's had a disappointing season by his and the club's standards, yet could you question his commitment or desire to exhibit his best work for Barcelona? Certainly not.
He deserves another season to recapture the form that he showed in his first 12 months in Catalonia, and which prompted the Barcelona hierarchy to dip into their wallet to the tune of 26 million euros.
Players like Cristian Tello and Gerard Deulofeu are champing at the bit to prove they are the "real deal."
Although he's another whose best form has deserted him for large parts of this season, Pedro is certainly not a player that Tito Vilanova should contemplate selling. Extremely hard working, he has the knack of scoring important goals in the big games.
Therefore, you have four players that are interchangeable between the wide left and right positions, depending on the tactics or formation that Vilanova chooses to employ.
So why the need to usurp all and sundry with a player who might not even fit the Barca model?
The root of Rosell's pursuit can be traced right back to his time working in marketing at Nike when in 1996 Barcelona's current president was given a simple brief: Get a shirt deal with either Barcelona or Real Madrid.
That he eventually managed to do so with Barcelona set the wheels in motion in Catalonia.
Rosell's next directive was to popularise the brand in Brazil, and in so doing he became well respected by those at the home of "joga bonito."
It was this connection and his friendship with the then incoming President of Barcelona, Joan Laporta, which saw Ronaldinho join the club.
And now, some years later, we see a similar scenario playing itself out.
Nike have tried for years to get Barcelona to sign another of their stellar high-profile names, without success.
Make no mistake, the signing of Neymar is as much to do with a marketing strategy for Nike as it is for Barcelona to sign their very own "galactico." Perhaps more so.
Looking forward to the player's expected arrival, one still can't escape the feeling of whether he is truly desired at his prospective new employers.
Aside from the staff issues described above, the jury is still out on what Neymar will bring to the newly-crowned La Liga champions.
Rosell in particular needs Neymar to be his "new Ronaldinho"—a player who has the capacity to beat opponents at will, to execute delicious football skill and to excite the paying punter.
A player who will, along with Lionel Messi, be the spearhead of the new Barca. A marketing "tour-de-force" to rival the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United as the world's richest football club.
There is no denying that the Brazilian has everything in his locker to become the worldwide sensation that many believe he will be. You only need look at the video below to be reminded just how good this boy is—and at just 21 years of age!
Given time to adjust to his new surroundings and time to adapt his game to the more rigorous demands of top-level European football, the signing of the Brazilian could be Rosell's crowning glory.
But what of the reticence to Neymar's signature from Pep Guardiola (Antony Kastrinakis, The Sun) during his tenure?
What of the notion that the player is too individualistic in nature to slot seamlessly into this title-winning team?
What of the petulance and arrogance that Neymar has displayed all too often in the Brazilian league?
What of the rumoured transfer fee of some 60 million euros for a player unproven at the highest level?
Perhaps the most important question of all—what about the opinion of the many supporters that pay their hard-earned each week to follow the Blaugrana far and wide?
All questions that Rosell would do well to acknowledge and consider. Perhaps they are questions that are now largely redundant given that it seems that player's arrival at Camp Nou is imminent.
BREAKING: Neymar's transfer from Santos to Barcelona to be official on Wednesday.— Santo (@Zizouology) May 20, 2013
Rosell's presidential vision is certainly writ clear and large—and Neymar is its name.
We can only hope that this time next year we are looking back at a season where the Brazilian has answered all of the questions in the best possible way—because Senor Rosell, there is a famous old saying you would do well to remember:
"Never forget where you came from. You may have to go back there some day."
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