- Oct 19, 2020
It doesn't sound funny, not a bit.Could be actually quite funny to watch. Neymar will inevitably showboat like crazy against opponents who are levels below him but while he got injured a couple of times by Ligue 1 players getting tired of being ridiculed, the Saudi League opponents will probably just let him have his way out of fear of getting publicly executed should they dare injuring him. And considering he gets injured by a strong breeze these days, you have to be really careful.
On a less cynical note you're obviously right, it is neither entertaining nor funny. But I think this is generally positive as a league that's such a mess is unlikely to achieve the high goals the country has set for it. It has absolutely zero integrity and I see no path how it could ever be broadly accepted.It doesn't sound funny, not a bit.
He's brilliant when fully fit but has chosen a career path where no one gives damn about what he does. If he was 34 or 35 id understand it, but he's all for the money. Nothing he does in the saudi league will count towards a legacy.He's trash and his career was always going to end up like this after choosing PSG for the money.
He peaked off the coattails of two of the top twenty players of the last decade, eight years ago. He has achieved very little in reality.He's brilliant when fully fit but has chosen a career path where no one gives damn about what he does. If he was 34 or 35 id understand it, but he's all for the money. Nothing he does in the saudi league will count towards a legacy.
Serious question: would you have Neymar in your top 20 footballers of all time then?Neymar deserves to be considered one of football’s true greats
Eight months ago, Neymar scored one of the greatest individual goals in football history. In seven seconds and using just five touches, a single player had waltzed through an entire team. You simply don’t see goals like that these days. The great individual World Cup goals are from a bygone era, with grainy footage of immobile defenders, rather than against ultra-compact blocks in HD. No one really spoke about the brilliance of the goal. Its legacy wasn’t helped, of course, by the fact Brazil subsequently conceded an equaliser and exited on penalties. But there’s also a wilful refusal to give due credit to Neymar.
Neymar deserves more credit, particularly in light of his surpassing Pele’s long-standing Brazil 77-goal record on Friday night. Neymar scored twice in a 5-1 win over Bolivia in Belem, taking his tally for the national team to 79. He should be considered one of the greats.
That will probably be considered a controversial view, especially considering he’s opting to take semi-retirement in Saudi Arabia. He’s often considered an unfulfilled talent, partly a recognition of his outlandish ability, obvious from his formative days with Santos. But it also rather overlooks the evidence. There’s that Brazil goalscoring record. There’s the fact Neymar is one of only 13 players to have won the Copa Libertadores and the Champions League — and he’s the only one of those 13 to score in both finals. And Neymar’s career in Europe, while not perfect, probably surpasses anything achieved by any other Brazilian forward.
It’s worth drawing a comparison to Neymar’s predecessors. Four other Brazilian attackers of this century have been regarded as true superstars: Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaka. None sustained quality in Europe for as long as Neymar.
Any criticism of “the original” Ronaldo is considered sacrilegious, in part because of his injury problems. This is a player who won a single league title in 14 years of European football. Ronaldo only got to one Champions League semi-final, and never reached a final. His outstanding club season, with Barcelona in 1996-97, actually ended with the fans desperately wanting him out.
Rivaldo’s top-level European career lasted only five years, with Deportivo and then Barcelona. He was poor in his final season at Camp Nou, and in an unremarkable stint with Milan was surplus to requirements. At a lower level, Rivaldo played into his forties but was only world-class until about 31.
Ronaldinho was pretty much done by 28 after a sensational half-decade spell of brilliance, although he deserves credit for his swansong with Atletico Mineiro, leading them to the Copa Libertadores in 2013.
And then there’s Kaka, briefly the world’s outstanding footballer. However, upon his move to Real Madrid at the age of 27, he badly lost his way, struggled to find a place in the team, and ended up in MLS at 32.
So, without wanting to discredit every Brazilian superstar to have pitched up in Europe, Neymar’s 10-year stint is actually very impressive in comparison to the greats. Yes, he took a while to get going at Barcelona and his years at PSG were punctuated by injuries, but Neymar has performed to a consistently high level and his performance towards the end of Barcelona’s miraculous 6-1 “Remontada” victory over PSG, to overturn a 4-0 first leg deficit, is the stuff of legend. He has never endured a serious slump to rival anything suffered by the aforementioned four Brazilians. Or, for that matter — looking at past Ballon d’Or winners — nothing like the poor form experienced by Zinedine Zidane for 18 months after World Cup 1998, or Andriy Shevchenko after his big-money move to Chelsea, or Michael Owen for the second half of his career.
Tim Vickery, the respected South American football journalist, once observed that Brazilian players tend to care deeply about only two sides: their first club and the national side. For them, European club football is about proving themselves at the highest level and earning money, but their mentality is largely geared towards preparing themselves for major international tournaments. And, in World Cups, Neymar has always turned up. He dealt excellently with the enormous pressure placed upon him on home soil in 2014. Everyone remembers the way Brazil self-destructed without him in the semi-final against Germany, overcome with nerves and emotion. But that wasn’t Neymar’s fault and it’s rather forgotten that Brazil’s star was kicked — or, rather, kneed — out of the tournament by a terrible foul from Colombia defender Juan Zuniga. In 2018, Neymar was quieter in terms of dominating Brazil’s play but did provide decisive moments, particularly when almost single-handedly winning the second-round game against Mexico, a 2-0 victory thanks to Neymar’s opener, a tap-in after his backheel had released Willian, then his assist for Roberto Firmino’s clincher. In 2022, while affected by injury at the start of the competition, Neymar provided that outstanding moment against Croatia before his team-mates left the back door open and Croatia equalised. Neymar had indicated that would be his last World Cup and his inability to triumph will be held against him, but Neymar wasn’t the reason Brazil have failed to win the World Cup in his time, the same way it wasn’t Zico’s fault he never won it either.
Besides, Neymar did taste success on home soil when, as captain, he scored the winning penalty to crown Brazil Olympic champions for the first time in 2016. He’d also scored in the quarter-final, semi-final and final. To European observers, the Olympic football tournament is an afterthought, but Brazil’s inability to win it had previously been considered a major story in South America.
Neymar’s transfer to PSG in 2017 is held up as the moment where he got things wrong. It was a move to a lesser league, certainly, but then Barcelona were slowly becoming more and more shambolic and Neymar was moving to the most ambitious club in European football to be the main man — this was shortly before Kylian Mbappe signed — and it was a chance to dominate a top side rather than play second fiddle to Messi at Barcelona.
Maybe it was, on the whole, a little underwhelming, but then success and failure come down to small margins. PSG lost the 2020 Champions League final to Bayern 1-0, but they’d been the better side until Kingsley Coman’s winner and only a desperate Manuel Neuer save with his trailing leg prevented Neymar from sliding home what would have been a deserved PSG opener. After Messi’s arrival, PSG became too top-heavy and their forwards’ lack of defensive discipline became a running joke — or, rather, a non-running joke – but, of the three, Neymar was far more likely to put in a shift and put in some tackles than Messi or Mbappe.
Really, Neymar’s greatest issue is being the anointed the ‘next superstar’ in the era immediately after Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s an unfair comparison. Not only were their peaks so incredibly high, their longevity has been staggering. They are complete outliers compared to almost every other great player in history, including the four aforementioned Brazilian attackers. Neymar twice finished in third place behind them in the Ballon d’Or, in 2015 and 2017. Granted, the comparison between Neymar and others of his generation are unflattering because Robert Lewandowski and Karim Benzema peaked in their thirties, while Neymar’s career is set to tail off in Saudi Arabia. Then again, Neymar’s brilliance started earlier: he was winning the Copa Libertadores and was crowned the best player in South America when he was 19. At the same age, Lewandowski was still in the Polish second division.
Everyone will have their own opinion on Neymar’s career, of course, and maybe he could have been better. Then again, when you compare his career with that of the hotly-tipped Ganso, who emerged from Santos at the same time, you realise quite what Neymar has achieved. Ganso earned just eight caps and made only 30 league appearances in Europe. He, rather than Neymar, is the ‘what might have been’ player.
But the idea that Neymar wasted his talent is deeply unfair and some of that criticism feels almost like triumphalism — a competition to see who has loftier standards of what constitutes a true great. Brazil’s all-time record goalscorer and the only man who has scored in Champions League and Copa Libertadores finals should be remembered as one of the best the game has seen.
Yes for meSerious question: would you have Neymar in your top 20 footballers of all time then?
Great player, sure, but a monumental bellend and someone that wasted the bulk of his career in the French league. Doesn't deserve to be remembered as one of the best by a long chalk imo.
I've just also seen that Neymar also has the second highest international assist total ever, behind Landon Donovan (weird). Ahead of Messi, Pele, De Bruyne etc. Pretty impressive and he has certainly been racking up the numbers.Highest Brazilian goal scorer ever is an all time great.
Great player, but far away to be considered as an "all time great".I've just also seen that Neymar also has the second highest international assist total ever, behind Landon Donovan (weird). Ahead of Messi, Pele, De Bruyne etc. Pretty impressive and he has certainly been racking up the numbers.
Still, I don't know if I can get with the logic of highest goal scorer = all time great. I realize Brazil has had many, many greats but the likes of Olivier Giroud, David Villa, Harry Kane, Miroslav Klose, RVP and Romelu Lukaku all come from pretty good footballing nations and I don't know that anyone is calling them all-time greats any time soon. Very good players, but not all-time greats. Maybe Kane can be if he can pick up a CL with Bayern, wins something with England and then come back to the Prem and take Shearer's record. Modern stars are just racking up higher tallies on international duty than previous generations, perhaps because they play way too many games.
Neymar will really have to perform well in and win the next World Cup with Brazil to cement his status as an all time great. Winning in that manner will take away a lot of the stench of controversy that surrounds his reputation.
If Neymar leads Brazil to a World Cup victory in 2026 in similar fashion to what Messi did in WC 2022 or perhaps even a tier below that, I think that would do it for him. That would probably cement him a the player of his generation behind Messi and Ronaldo.Zidane is an all time great for France. I personally not sure if Henry can be considered as one.
Not sure he can just flip the switch when the world cup starts after training in and playing against third tier teams week in week out for whole seasons. Even staying match fit could be difficult whem the intensity in matches isn't high for him. Players who come back from injuries usually need some matches at a high level before they are back in full shape as wellIf Neymar leads Brazil to a World Cup victory in 2026 in similar fashion to what Messi did in WC 2022 or perhaps even a tier below that, I think that would do it for him. That would probably cement him a the player of his generation behind Messi and Ronaldo.
With such a long gap since the last Brazilian WC victory, he would definitely stand out in a historical sense. He is sorely missing a WC victory from his resume because pretty much all of the other Brazilian greats, save maybe Zico, have one. On technical merit already, he is quite exceptional. He's just made some questionable career choices, had bad luck with untimely injuries and has developed a reputation for diving. There is nothing like a good World Cup to sanitize a reputation though.
At times, he has been a stunning footballer.
For French all time great, the first 2 names pop up to me is Zidane and Platini. As I said before I am not sure if Henry can be considered as one, just like I am not sure if Bergkamp, RVP or Robben can be considered as Dutch all time great.You don't have to take their national team as the main barometer.
Just in general, would you say Henry's an all-time great?
My hunch is that this won't be too much of a problem for Neymar if can keep focused, motivated and injury free. His motivation for this should be quite high and I feel like this is the last thing in football that means anything to him. Between the CONMEBOL qualification grind, other games for the Brazil NT and anticipated improvements in the Saudi League prior to the next World Cup he should get plenty of decent games to keep him fit enough. I expect the Saudis to go crazy (as if they haven't already, haha), start filling out the lower rungs of their league and attract better coaching quality over the next few windows.Not sure he can just flip the switch when the world cup starts after training in and playing against third tier teams week in week out for whole seasons. Even staying match fit could be difficult whem the intensity in matches isn't high for him. Players who come back from injuries usually need some matches at a high level before they are back in full shape as well
Brazil had some internationals that were playing in the Japanese league in the 90s, during that early period where they tried to bring in a lot of good foreign players. Dunga, Zinho, Leonardo, Sampaio.My hunch is that this won't be too much of a problem for Neymar if can keep focused, motivated and injury free. His motivation for this should be quite high and I feel like this is the last thing in football that means anything to him. Between the CONMEBOL qualification grind, other games for the Brazil NT and anticipated improvements in the Saudi League prior to the next World Cup he should get plenty of decent games to keep him fit enough. I expect the Saudis to go crazy (as if they haven't already, haha), start filling out the lower rungs of their league and attract better coaching quality over the next few windows.
You can call it a fluke, but the Saudi team did manage to beat the eventual winners in the last World Cup, so the gap can't be that drastic that a player like Neymar would look completely off it due to prolonged, low-quality exposure and competition. Yes, those players were only concentrated in a few teams in the league but I don't think they looked like they didn't belong in any match, and they showed great fitness, drive and endeavor in some games. In addition to the Saudi League newcomers, these are the players he will mostly be training with, along with his Brazil teammates.
If Neymar fails, which realistically is more likely than not, I doubt match sharpness will be the reason. This is a bit of uncharted territory, because I can't remember a recent comparable situation when star players were plying their trade in such a lowly-rated league while still trying to be involved in NT duty. Closest I recall was Paulinho spending a few years in the Chinese league prior to WC 2018, where he somehow made the FIFA Team of the Tournament, but even he had that one year at Barcelona prior to the WC before returning to China the next season. Guess we'll see what happens with the likes of Neymar, Laporte etc.