Cirque du Neymar

Workers outside the Camp Nou remove Neymar from a poster.
Workers outside the Camp Nou remove Neymar from a poster. / AFP
  • a look at laliga

  • The Brazilian forward's world-record move to PSG is the ultimate vanity project

A significant part of the audience was aghast when I countered my esteemed colleague's gushing description of Neymar with ''...he's just not quite a legend in the making''.

This was back in the summer of 2013 when the young Brazilian was about to join Barcelona accompanied by a large fanfare.

“World class”, reckoned my informed pal Guillem Balague. “But he’s not in the league of Messi and Ronaldo” was my assertion to a gathering of Spanish football fans.

Some mocked, and the fact that Paris Saint Germain have found 222 million euros to take transfer deals into another sphere suggests they may have been right to mock.

But having commentated on his talents for four years I stick with my original statement that he’s incredibly talented but just short of being considered one of the best in the world.

If he remained in La Liga he’d still be competing for the spotlight with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suárez, a fit-again Gareth Bale, Antoine Griezmann and emerging talents like Marco Asensio and Isco. In Ligue 1 he has the whole top billing to himself!

This is the ultimate vanity project and making Cristiano seem quite modest in comparison.

It can’t be about money as he’s already wealthy beyond comprehension. It can’t be about winning titles as he has a Champions Leagu, and Fifa World Club title to add to three Liga and cup medals.


Neymar. / EFE

Talk about marquee signing - he has the whole circus tent to himself! He thrives the attention and is certainly getting it this summer but come autumn this will draw in like the nights.

The big winners may yet be his new club PSG. Alright they’ll pay a sickeningly ridiculous amount of money but then again they have a well of cash.

This is a statement that means their planet is recognised in the football galaxy.

Blackburn did it with Alan Shearer, Real Betis broke a world record for Denilson in 1999, Real Madrid do it most summers and Manchester United paid over the odds to reestablish their world order with Paul Pogba last summer.

For me it smacks of Robinho joining Manchester City almost a decade ago. He wasn’t quite sure which club he was signing for but he knew he was top of the bill and made for life.

The club benefitted by signing a recognised talent that established them among the order.

I’d rate Neymar’s as a similar talent to Robinho too, not quite World Player of the Year contender, but he will ensure sell-out stadia.

I’ve often visited Paris and wondered why such a major city didn’t have a worthy football team. Now it’s the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Moulin Rouge, Euro Disney and PSG.

It may all be to Barcelona’s advantage too if they entice Kylian Mbappé from Monaco. He’d liven up the team and be an exciting replacement for Neymar without the baggage.

There’s one aside that Neymar’s new club should watch out for too. It’s traditional that he serves a suspension or recovers from a knock around March 11, the date of his sister’s birthday and he recuperates with her.

He’s just a family man at heart, he’s just weighed his dad into the deal with a 40-million-euro cut.