Neymar is one of the most coveted football players on the planet. While the thought process from his camp has revolved around a 2014 exit from Santos, the Brazilian superstar should strongly consider an earlier move to a top European club, such as Barcelona.
Pilar Suarez of Goal.com reported last month talks between Neymar and the La Liga champions are scheduled for July. Rumors and speculation have only continued to heat up from there as the forward's future becomes a main summer storyline.
Barcelona would be far from the only club to show interest. After all, we're talking about a 21-year-old player capable of making an instant impact in any of Europe's top leagues. He's already an elite talent with plenty of growth to come.
Yet, despite all the talk, Neymar and those around him continue to stand firm about 2014. Paulo Freitas of Sky Sports passed along comments from Neymar.
I'm happy here. I have already told you. Unless I die this game [against Corinthians on Sunday] is not my last game.
If people are saying other things, then they know more than I do. Many people say what they want without knowing anything. But this is how things are.
His father didn't sound as definite, but he still pointed toward 2014.
Our position is to stay until the end of contract, and we have not heard that Santos are in negotiations to sell Neymar.
If Santos want to then I will talk with my son to see if he really wants to go. We made some plans for Neymar to stay here until 2014. If these change we must be told beforehand.
Barcelona are waiting for Neymar but for 2014. A project is in place to see how he will fit there. We are 'dating' so to speak but there is no concrete deal.
Since the stance hasn't changed in recent years as Neymar rose to worldwide fame, the comments wouldn't qualify as a surprise. That said, it's a long summer and the phenom should take his talents to Europe if given an opportunity.
Quite simply, there's nothing left for him to prove with Santos. It would be understandable if he wanted to stay in order to maximize his value and potentially attract more clubs, but he's already one of the top possible targets heading into the summer.
Barcelona would be an ideal fit. The club could be looking to make some changes after a stunning 7-0 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Adding a talent like Neymar to play alongside Lionel Messi would be a huge boost for their attack.
Speaking of the Champions League, that's where the top players in the world are truly tested. Going up against fellow extraordinary talents that know your strengths and weaknesses would show exactly where Neymar stands.
It would be valuable experience as he gets prepared to help lead Brazil in the country's home World Cup next summer. He doesn't have that chance with Santos.
The move to Europe is going to happen eventually, so there's really no reason to wait another year if the right opportunity presents itself in the coming months. Barcelona would be the best alternative, but Neymar's camp should keep their options open.
Neymar has gone as far as he can go at Santos. It's time for him to explore new challenges, which Barcelona or another top European club would certainly present.