The conveyor belt of Brazilian talent heading over to Europe shows no signs of slowing down this summer, and their new prize asset may well be jumping on board and heading to England. Viewers in Europe may be familiar with Neymar, but only through highlight reels from YouTube and the ubiquitous transfer stories linking him to top clubs. They were finally introduced to him in person on Sunday as the 19-year-old forward added to his burgeoning reputation with two goals in the friendly with Scotland, taking his international goals tally to three in three appearances.
The youngster impressed with his performance, his first goal an expertly executed curling finish, and the second a coolly taken penalty. Despite his small build he more than held his own against physical opposition, mainly thanks to his close control, change of direction and pace with or without the ball.
Neymar has been making a name for himself for some time, and his exploits have of course not gone unnoticed by scouts from top European outfits. As a 17-year-old he made his debut for Santos, famously the club of Pele and in more recent times producer of talents such as Robinho, Elano and Diego, and has since scored 27 times in 64 games. Along with clubmate and fellow wonderkid Ganso he is widely considered to represent the future of Brazil’s national team.
The performance against Scotland will have done nothing to quell whispers of a big move to the Premier League, despite the impression that a player of Neymar’s stature may not at first glance appear suited to the English game. Brazil coach Mano Menezes however feels that he could adapt his game in order to cope with the demands, and certainly appeared to encourage his rising star to consider a move. “I
Chelsea have long been the club most frequently linked with a swoop, and it is not inconceivable that the rumours may finally come to fruition this summer. With a number of players the wrong side of 30 and the exit door likely to be busy, their focus will inevitably fall on rebuilding with youth in the coming months. And, with Roman Abramovich evidently ready to throw his financial weight around again, they are one of an elite band of clubs, along with free spending Manchester City and Real Madrid, who would be able to afford the rumoured £37 million release clause that others may baulk at.
Whether Neymar himself would fancy a move to these shores is another matter. He complained of racial abuse from Scottish fans as he prepared to take his penalty on Sunday, a claim strenuously denied by the Scotland hierarchy. However, that aside, he seemed impressed enough with his experience at the Emirates Stadium, stating: “The stadium is great; the pitch is too. The [English] weather I don’t like all that much, but I could get used to it.” Having previously expressed an admiration for Italian football and Juventus, he may also take heed of his compatriots’ records in England. While more established and successful now than previously, Brazilians are still not as prominent as in other top leagues such as La Liga or Serie A.