I am ashamed to admit it, but I visit Goal.com. Goal.com is not really a good site; it’s only few steps above Bleacher Report, but at least Goal.com does have news. Not completely accurate news, especially during the transfer window, but news nonetheless.
In the past few days, I have seen stories and commentary indicating that Santos wonderkid/prima donna Neymar may be headed for the Camp Nou. Barcelona and Real Madrid have been vying for Neymar all summer, not because either of them needs him, but rather because neither wants to see the other get him. All summer it looked like Madrid had the edge, but now Neymar’s coach at Santos has come out and said that he thinks Neymar would be more suited to joining Barcelona.
I can understand why Barcelona would want Neymar and vice versa (although Neymar is flirting with an awful lot of suitors), but a union between the two would be a disaster. Barcelona is a team based around the collective, even with Lionel Messi at the eye of the storm.
Neymar is currently the best player in Brazil and the best player from Brazil. That first distinction is an impressive, but the second means he will be worshiped. But that kind of adulation is a burden as well as a blessing. Neymar knows he is a star and behaves as such–more Cristiano Ronaldo than Messi. He sulks when he doesn’t get his way, he dives for fouls (and plays poorly when the ref does not give the foul), and at Santos his whims dictate policy. That he has so much power at his club is especially troubling given that he is all of 19; no 19-year-old should have that kind of power. A European club will come as a huge shock, especially if he plays alongside Cristiano Ronaldo or another player of legendary ego.
It is not that the current Barcelona players lack ego or that the club has never employed players like Neymar. But the current team has put club before self and Pep Guardiola above all. When Guardiola first became manager, he tossed out players like Ronaldinho, Deco, and Giovani dos Santos, players who threatened team harmony with their individual behavior. He tried to get rid of Samuel Eto’o, but his failure to do so turned out to be a blessing that year. When he did get rid of Eto’o the next year, he brought in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, in what was a bad marriage for all involved (Zlatan has still not gotten over it.) Last year’s team was so successful because the Guardiola experiment–11 players, one mind–paid off fully. Despite today’s draw at Real Sociedad, this year’s team could very well continue that success. (The press will all talk about Barcelona’s failure, but a season is a long time, and this was Match 2.)
Neymar at Barcelona would upset that successful collectivism. He would be a return to the Zlatans and the Ronaldinos. The immediate gains would be tremendous, but the not-too-distant future would bring nothing but trouble. Neymar, like Robinho, Zlatan, and Carlos Tevez, is a dressing room poison. His talent blinds success-hungry clubs to that.
For Barcelona’s sake, I hope Neymar goes elsewhere. Or better yet, just stay at Santos, where they will never stop treating him like a god.