Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior will be the next big name to join FC Barcelona. That is, of course, if you choose to believe the hype that the Catalan media keeps trying to create on a daily basis.
Tito Vilanova, our new coach after Pep Guardiola's departure, has gone on record to clearly explain that the Barcelona board should focus on signing an experienced, reliable central defender this summer. Despite the fact that many options have been considered for the job (Vermaelen, Hummels, Subotic, Agger...), all eyes are firmly focused on Javi Martinez.
As I explained in my previous article, the 23 year-old could also cover the midfield gap left by Seydou Keita after he was lured away by Chinese money earlier this summer. Unfortunately, the extortionate €40 million transfer fee that Athletic Bilbao demand for their captain will quite probably mean that Tito Vilanova's wish won't be granted any time soon unless the Basques accept to negotiate - which seems highly unlikely.
With the Javi Martinez saga likely to go on for years, the Barcelona press have chosen Neymar as their next target. Our vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu helped ignite the transfer speculations by telling the media: "We would all like Neymar to come. He is a Santos player but I am sure Neymar will come to Europe in the future, and when that moment arrives we will be attentive so he can sign for Barcelona."
In fact, the latest reports point out the fact that the Brazilian forward is trying to force his way out of Santos in the very near future, perhaps as early as next month once the London 2012 Olympic tournament is over. According to these sources, Barcelona would have already paid Santos €10 million in order to ensure Neymar signs for us whenever he leaves the Brazilian championship, making his arrival at the Camp Nou a simple matter of time.
Neymar is a mobile 20-year-old striker who, similarly to Lionel Messi, loves joining attacking positions with speedy diagonal runs from the wings. Despite his young age, his 110 goals and 37 assists in just 186 appearances for Santos show that we are talking about a special player who would add an extra spark of magic to our attack. Fresh, confident and hungry for success - a bonus for any team.
Signing Neymar also makes sense in terms of revenue and merchandising. The talented youngster is a national idol in Brazil, the country where the next FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games will be held. I'm pretty sure that the Barcelona board is already relishing the opportunity to boost sales in the upcoming Brazilian market.
Regular readers of Barcablog.com will remember how I have been critical of Neymar in the past as a result of his inability to decide whether he wanted to join Barcelona or Real Madrid. In recent months though, the Brazilian forward seems to be more inclined to praising our team.
After being destroyed 4-0 by Blaugranas in the Club World Cup final, Neymar explained: "I don't know if Barcelona are unbeatable, but they are the best team in the world. What we experienced in this match, we will take as a lesson. Today, Barcelona taught us how to play football." More recently, he has made an effort to publicly praise Lionel Messi ("Me? No, the Ballon d'Or is for Messi, who is the best in the world, there is no one like him, he is the greatest!") and Andres Iniesta ("I really like Iniesta, he's a sensational player.")
If Neymar is humble enough to understand that the Barcelona system revolves around Lionel Messi and is prepared to take a starring role alongside (not above) him, I would be happy to welcome him to the Camp Nou - whether that is this summer, next winter or in a couple of seasons is a different matter.
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I welcome and appreciate all respectful feedback.
Posted by: Francesc Tomàs.
Founder and columnist at www.barcablog.com
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