Neymar Going To Fc Barcelona.
First off, it is worth remembering that the Neymar to Barcelona rumours are not original, and not new. Last year there were whispers that a deal was done but nothing happened, and before long the talented youngster signed a new deal with Santos that could in theory keep him in Brazil until 2015.
Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean much; any club wanting to sign Neymar was always going to have to pay an astronomical fee but what it does point to is how engrained he is at Santos – a club that has abandoned its futsal and women’s side in order to finance his wage packet and one that has all but abandoned fellow starlet Ganso in order to build a team around their brightest prospect.
The latter, once believed to be the man who could help Brazil to World Cup glory on home soil in 2014, will soon leave Santos having fallen out dramatically with the club’s board. Neymar is by far and away the club’s highest earner, while Ganso, linked with a move to Tottenham and Chelsea, is the second-lowest paid player in the first team.
And therein lies the first stumbling block. Barcelona do not have €60 million to spend on Neymar. They do not have €6 million to spend on Neymar judging by their most recent set of accounts.
For all their grandeur on the pitch Barca have something of a grubby secret off it in as much as they have a mountain of debt building up - €578 million to be exact.
While that figure is somewhat warped by bewilderingly confusing accounting jargon and technicalities the club are far from where they want to be financially and that has had an impact on the pitch.
Last summer Barcelona's vice-president of finance Javier Faus revealed the club had a transfer budget of around €40 million, while also revealing the club’s main focus was on reducing levels of debt. Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez arrived last summer, both costing more than the budget mentioned by Faus but sales of the likes of Bojan Krkic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic meant their net spend was only around €10 million. All indications so far suggest this summer could be a quiet one at the Nou Camp.
Jordi Alba has signed on the dotted line for a bargain €14 million while a new centre-back is required, but aside from that few expect much business to be done this summer.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the deal is the role Neymar’s marketability could play in a transfer, something which could justify such a large fee. It is interesting to note that, despite completely over-shadowing rivals Real Madrid in terms of silverware won in recent years, Barcelona still cannot hold a candle to the revenue generated by Los Blancos, who are the only club in the world to make over £400 million a year.
And what is it that sets Jose Mourinho’s side apart from their rivals? The second generation of Galacticos.
President Florentino Perez appears to have no qualms about forking over mammoth transfer fees for the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema. Together Madrid paid over €180 million for the three and a further €100 million for Xabi Alonso, Angel di Maria, Mesut Ozil and Fabio Coentrao.
Madrid’s approach banks on the marketability of the likes of Ronaldo and Kaka, two of the most popular players in terms of social media it is worth noting, and monetising their popularity. Risky it may be but it appears to be working if their record €135 million in commercial revue for 2010 is anything to go by – while their record breaking media and match day revenue also feeds off the popularity of their stars.
Barcelona are hardly paupers in this region but they haven’t quite exploited the model as Madrid have. Messi is a global figure and helps his club’s profitability like few others could, but it is here the arrival of Neymar makes most sense.
Ranked as the most marketable athlete on the planet by SportsPro, Neymar is already an icon in his home country and has a growing legion of fans around the world. The Brazilian and Barcelona appear a match made in heaven and can service one another's needs - and with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil looming on the horizon, his worth to both club and country looks set to sky rocket.
Interestingly the arrival of Neymar at Barcelona could be facilitated by Nike, the Catalan club’s shirt sponsor. Despite their own galaxy of stars only a few of the high profile players are Nike athletes. In 2006 Messi singed with Adidas while David Villa is also associated with the German brand, as is Xavi. Cesc Fabregas recently ditched Nike to sign with Puma.
Neymar, young talented and with sponsorship deals up to his eyeballs would represent the perfect player to help Barcelona become the greatest side off the pitch as well as on it.
In this respect the fact that club president Sandro Rosell spent six years working with Nike to promote the brand in Brazil will obviously help lubricate the wheels of any deal.
Barcelona aren’t known for astronomic transfer fees like Madrid but the acquisition of Neymar, who makes around £8.5 million a year through sponsorship deals with Unilever, Panasonic and of course Nike, would certainly make long-term sense, and will certainly make them a more attractive proposition to potential investors as well as open up a new market of fans in South America.
The involvement of Banco de Brazil, who currently pay some of Neymar’s wages at Santos, should also open up a few new doors.
Back on the football pitch is where the deal starts to get a little less certain. It was another Brazilian, Ronaldinho, who was forced out of the club in order to make room for Messi to take centre stage and drive the club to glory, and how Neymar fits in with that is unclear.
Would he fit in well with Barca’s well honed style of play? Sanchez, a South America, joined last summer and did well despite injuries, but would Neymar shine if he is not the star of the show and forced to fit into a system rather than have one built around him like he does at Santos?
There would certainly be no usurping Messi, who has just enjoyed the greatest goal scoring season Europe has ever seen. When Santos and Barcelona met at the Club World Cup final in December 2011, there was only one winner between both teams and only one winner between Neymar and Messi. It was 4-0 to Barca and 2-0 to Messi.
There are also suggestions Neymar is a player for the YouTube generation; perfect for short clips but his overall contribution is lacking.
Despite reaching the Copa Librtadores semi-final and winning Sao Paolo’s regional league, the Campeonato Paulista, Santos have struggled in the national league having won just one of their opening nine fixtures.
Neymar has only played three times, scoring twice. He has been accused of going missing for large spells during games. A scorer of easy on the eye goals, sure, but at the moment not a man who can be relied on to win games and make a difference constantly. Then there are doubts over his personality, which has been known to rub team-mates up the wrong way.
With the unassuming Messi and Andres Iniesta on board, that simply isn’t the Barca way.
Despite that there were some suggestions that part of the reason that Pep Guardiola quit as manager at the Nou Camp was in part down to his constant battles with Rosell over the signing of Neymar and other targets; now he is out of the picture and the much more malleable Tito Vilanova, who doesn’t have years of success to use as the final word, is in charge it may be easier to make a move happen.
The rumours this week suggest that Neymar could stay in Santos for another season before joining up with Barcelona for the start of the 2013/14, one year before he takes centre-stage on home soil at the World Cup.
There appears to be little foundation in reports that a deal has been done or is even close but there is certainly fertile ground for a deal to happen. When or if it happens is unclear, but perhaps the silly season where action on the pitch takes a back seat for a month or so does have its worth.
This was posted by cesc fabregas on his official Facebook page and has been posted on euro sport and Google links.