Neymar: The Shining Light of Brazilian Football
For the best part of a decade, Neymar has been the golden boy of Brazilian football. Gone are the days of Ronaldinho, Rivaldo and Ronaldo; this is the Neymar era - and with 55 goals in 72 national games, it is hard to argue against that.
If truth be told, though, Brazil have struggled to make a major impression on the world stage during the Neymar decade and the 7-1 defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup semi-final sent shockwaves across the world. Neymar and co. were embarrassed on home soil that day but La Selecao showed resilience to bounce back and win the 2016 Olympic gold medal just two years later. Playing in front of an expectant Maracana Stadium, Neymar led his side to victory – a result that went some way to apologising for that infamous World Cup thrashing at the hands of Germany.
Out With the Old, In With the New
But that was then and this is now. Neymar, hunting Pele's record of 77 goals for Brazil, has now joined Paris Saint-Germain for a world record fee of £198 million, per the The Daily Telegraph. In all fairness, Neymar has always been destined to play at the top of world football. The only thing missing from his glittering trophy cabinet is a World Cup and Brazil will be targeting a record sixth triumph in next summer’s tournament.
Neymar made an instant impact on his PSG debut, notching an assist before adding a third in the 3-0 victory away at Guingamp. If he enjoys a prolific campaign in France, he will head to the World Cup full of confidence and Tite, Brazil’s current manager, is likely to build his assault on the competition around him. Since taking over, Brazil have been stronger after a difficult spell and the Tite-Neymar combination could give them the edge in Russia. After all, the Brazil coach believes that the PSG man will top the world at some point in the near future.
Coutinho and Neymar: A Lethal Combo
Who else do Brazil have? Well, Philippe Coutinho, reportedly Barcelona’s primary target to replace Neymar, is a supreme talent. The 2016 Samba Gold winner could leave Liverpool this summer and a move to Barcelona would help the Brazil national side. Coutinho is world class on his day and a player of his quality should be competing for the Champions League, and the Camp Nou side believe that he has the talent to step into Neymar’s shoes.
Just imagine Brazil with a confident Neymar and Coutinho in the starting line-up. On paper, Tite is blessed with one of the strongest international squads on the planet and plenty of punters will be backing Brazil in their bid to win the World Cup next summer. As of August 16th, Neymar’s side are priced at 13/2 in Betway’s betting markets and it would take a brave man to back against the five-time winners if their elite stars are fighting fit.
Don't Forget About Gabriel Jesus, Either
Meanwhile, Manchester City youngster Gabriel Jesus also deserves recognition. At just 20 years old, he is widely regarded as one of Brazil’s hottest talents, a potential great according to the legendary Zico in a piece from the Manchester Evening News, and he could link up nicely with Neymar and Coutinho in Russia next summer. It looks like Brazil are set to qualify for the competition with relative ease and La Selecao will head into the event as one of the leading contenders – especially if Jesus manages to displace Argentina striker Sergio Aguero as Pep Guardiola’s favourite option in attack.
It looks like Jesus will play alongside Aguero for now and the Brazilian should relish the chance to learn from an experienced professional. In time, Jesus will have his moment as City’s main man but for now, Guardiola has opted to use both strikers. Brazil are likely to go with a more conventional approach of one centre-forward with two create midfielders just behind and the Coutinho-Neymar-Jesus trio could be influential next summer.
Neymar Has Competition But He Is Still A Class Above
Coutinho and Jesus are both very talented footballers but Neymar has god-like status in Brazil and he is a class above his peers. Tite knows that keeping the PSG man on his side will be key to success at the World Cup next summer and building around the 25-year-old is the right decision. In time, Jesus and Coutinho may command the same levels of respect as Neymar but for now, there is only one main man in Brazilian football. Neymar is and has been the poster boy for quite some time and the 2018 World Cup could be his moment to shine on the biggest stage of all.