Neymar, the in-demand 19-year-old forward who is seen as the big hope of Brazilian football for the 2014 World Cup, has been told that he should stay with current club Santos, the reigning Copa Libertadores holders, rather than seeking a move to Europe at this stage in his career.
The advice comes from Santos and Brazil legend Pele, the three-time World Cup winner who spent virtually his entire playing career with the Brazilian giants, and who believes that Neymar should remain in his homeland honing his skills and developing his game.
The twinkle-toed forward, whose penchant for bedazzling opposing defenders and cool finishing has caught the eye of all of world football’s top clubs, has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid, be it in the current transfer window or come January, following Santos participation in the World Club Championship.
Nonetheless, Pele believes that the best place for the youngster and his sublime talent is merely to stay put, for the time being.
“He can be a great player, he can be like Messi or Ronaldo, no doubt,” Pele told reporters at an event in London to re-launching the New York Cosmos, the club where he ended his career, prior to the NASL going bankrupt in 1984.
“But I think it’s a little complicated for him to move to a club in England or Italy at the moment. The marking is very tight there.
“He would find that a little difficult because he’s very young. The game is very physical in England and Italy. Maybe in Holland or France or even Spain it would be better for him.”
Neymar flattered to deceive at the recent Copa America, where Brazil were beaten at the quarter-final stage by finalists Paraguay on penalties, coming in for less protection from officials than he is used to in Brazil. The wonderkid failed to make his mark on the tournament, disappointing as Mano Menezes side bowed out early.
However, he and his Santos team-mate Paulo Henrique Ganso, are seen as the two shining lights to lead Brazil to World Cup success on homesoil in 2014, something which Pele sees as more likely should Neymar continue plying his trade in his homeland until then.
“I think it is very difficult to keep him in Brazil,” Pele said.
“Santos is my team and he started there with us. I hope he stays there until more or less the 2014 World Cup but it will be a little difficult to keep him here.
“He hasn’t reached his potential yet, but he is already an excellent player.”
If you want to see what all the fuss about the youngster is all about, click Here for his recent wonder-goal against Flamengo.