So there were a series of seemingly contradictory, and oddly timed press conferences today--and they were all on the same topic: the future of the young, universally coveted Brazilian star-in-the-making Neymar.
First, Wagner Ribeiro, Neymar's agent and media darling, confirmed reports that he had received an offer from Real Madrid...and from Barcelona. Both teams, Ribeiro said, are "willing to meet Neymar's €45 million release clause." The only difference, he said, was that "Madrid want Neymar now, while Barcelona are willing to wait until next season to acquire his services."
Soon after, Barcelona's enigmatic left back--and Neymar's teammate at Barcelona--Dani Alves, reacted to Real Madrid's bid by saying that he "can't imagine playing against Neymar. My dream is to share a locker room with him at Barcelona."
At almost exactly the same time, Neymar held a press conference himself, saying "I want to stay with Santos, though I don't know what goes on outside of this hotel. I haven't talked with my agents or my father--and they're the ones who're doing the negotiating."
Finally, reports surfaced later in the day that "a group of high-ranking Real Madrid officials have traveled to Brazil to negotiate with Neymar's agents."
Wow. More Neymar-related discussion after the jump. Oh, and sorry that all the links are in Spanish--I'll look for translations ASAP.
The part of this series of odd press conferences (and twitter-comments: Ribeiro said on his twitter that he was "meeting with the president of a major Spanish club") that seems most interesting to me is the new wrinkle that Barcelona now seems well positioned to acquire the services of the young Brazilian.
Here's my reasoning:
- Neymar really does want to stay with Santos, at least through the Club World Cup, which takes place halfway through the Spanish season.
- Real Madrid's front office seems to be pretty inflexible about the timeline: they want him now, or at the latest before the winter trade deadline.
- Santos really wants Neymar to stay through the Club World Cup, and because of this, will make it hard for los blancos to negotiate any trade before midwinter.
- Because Barcelona are more flexible with their timing, and because Neymar seems to have bonded with Dani Alves, they might be a more desirable location for him to land.
Hmm. But does the Catalan club really want Neymar (where does he fit in their system, anyways?)? Or are they just trying to drive up Madrid's bid (which would be a very shrewd move)?
But even more importantly, I guess, does Real Madrid even need Neymar? I know we've discussed this briefly, but I see a lot of issues with this kid: he reminds me more of Robinho than of Ronaldo, a potential locker room disturbance--someone who might complain greatly if he's benched. Plus, if Madrid (and Mourinho) are serious about Benzema and Higuaín, wouldn't adding another young, egoistic player into the mix just make things more complicated?
At the same time, he's one of the most talented players in the world right now: he has best-player-in-the-world potential, and the ability to score goals at important moments (as he noted in his press conference). Scouts rave about his composure in big matches, his skills both on and off the ball, and they even talk about that ineffable olfato goleador, that quality that allows strikers to be in the right place at the right time.
I'm on record saying that I'd prefer Agüero to Neymar, mainly because I think el Kun is much more battle-tested and has a similar projection.
But I'm not very happy with the idea of Neymar going to Barça for some reason...how do we fix this conundrum, guys?
Neymar skills & tricks (via footmoves)