Neymar: the new Robinho or just another Lulinha?

March 30, 2009 at 08:18 19 comments

Neymar and Pelé. They may have the same haircuts but do they really share the same ability?

Neymar and Pelé. They may have the same haircuts but do they really share the same ability?

For the latest on Neymar and all the emerging new talent in Brazil, follow me on Twitter here

Anyone who has followed Brazilian football in recent years would have seen this all before. A talented teenager does a few things in a handful of reserve games or at one of the junior levels for his country, is hailed as the next best thing since sliced bread and is immediately linked with every big club in Europe.

In 2008, it was Grêmio’s Douglas Costa. Earlier this year, Internacional’s Walter was in the spotlight and now it’s the turn of Santos’ 17-year-old forward, Neymar.

Naturally, any player that comes up at Santos is going to be compared to Robinho and even occasionally, Pelé. What is unusual is that the former Santos great has even gone on record as saying that Neymar could be better than him (though Pelé also said recently that Robinho and Ronaldo had a drug problem before later retracting his statement).

Neymar made his debut against Paulista FC on 12th March in the Campeonato Paulista and has got off to a very good start scoring three goals in five games.

At times the youngster has showed a maturity well beyond his years. The player is clearly skilful, has learned some neat tricks, is pacey, and above all is confident. And while his displays have been more than competent for a teenager, we’re all still waiting for Neymar to live up to the hype and do something really special.

Of course, our high expectations have nothing to do with Neymar directly. He is merely the victim of a publicity machine that has gone into overdrive. The São Paulo press have also done their part to add to the frenzy.

Neymar is just one in long list of players at Santos who have been tipped for greatness. Not so long ago it was the likes of Tiago Luís, Wescley, Renatinho, and Moraes. Never heard of them? Well, that’s no surprise. While it’s true that the hype never reached the same heights as it has with Neymar, the players all had huge price tags slapped on them and were linked with a myriad of clubs in Europe.

Santos are said to be asking around 30 million euros for their current forward. If you are to believe the press, this has not put off Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and more recently, AC Milan. The European giants it seems are buying into the hype even though Neymar has yet to produce against relatively low quality sides in the Campeonato Paulista.

Much has been made of the similarities between Neymar and Manchester City’s Robinho: how they both came up from Futsal, their phenomenal talent, and their incredible dribbling abilities.

However, many have forgotten how relatively slow Robinho’s rise to fame was and how he lived in the shadows of former teammate, Diego (now at Werder Bremen), for a long time. It’s also true to say that at the beginning of Robinho’s career there wasn’t anywhere near the same level of transfer speculation or the hype. That is until he performed that dribble in front of Corinthian’s Rogério in the finals of the Brasileiro in 2002.

Neymar is yet to have that kind of magical moment that will make him stand out. But that’s hardly surprising as he’s only played a handful of games and it wouldn’t be fair to judge him on that.

Occasionally though, some Brazilian teenage sensations do make an immediate impact. Alexandre Pato was one such player and in his case, the hype was justified.

Others, such as Corinthians’ Lulinha, arrived with so much promise only to fall quickly from grace and out of the first team.

Lulinha, like so many before him, fell victim to over expectations and unwarranted attention and went from being a potentially half decent player to a teenager footballer whose confidence had been totally stripped away. In 2007, Corinthians were struggling in the league and Lulinha was hailed as the team’s saviour. As the season progressed and Corinthians situation worsened, Lulinha was being booed by the same fickle fans.

If Santos fail to make the playoffs of the Campeonato Paulista and if they get off to a bad start in the Brasileiro, a similar fate could in store for Neymar. That is of course, if he hasn’t already been snapped up by one of Europe’s giants.

Watch FootBrazil’s video feature on Neymar here
See Brazil’s new stars in the making here in Brazil: the talent factory 2010

Related post: Lulinha loaned to Estoril

© Jon Cotterill and Pitacodogringo’s Brazilian football site, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jon Cotterill and Pitacodogringo’s Brazilian football site with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. linus  |  March 30, 2009 at 11:15

    If you are condemning a teenager like lulinha for obscurity, even though he has whole decade and half of career ahead of him to become the star he was supposed to be.
    How are you different than the ones who are overhyping Neymar on the basis of few games??

  • 2. pitacodogringo  |  March 30, 2009 at 12:59

    i’m not condemning him, or Neymar for that matter. what happened to the two is something beyond their control. i’m sure they never wanted the spotlight on them so early in their professional careers.
    the whole point of comparing Neymar to Lulinha was just an example of what can happen when too much is expected of a teenage player. i really hope Lulinha bounces back and finds some form. i hope Neymar lives up to all the expectations. but what these youngsters really need is to be given time to develop properly and then they may just turn into something special.

  • 3. linus  |  March 30, 2009 at 15:54

    Thanks for your explanation.

    Thanks also for the previous blogs giving great insight into the brazilian football.

    Hope to see your next blog soon.

  • 4. john  |  April 1, 2009 at 08:37

    i hav enjoyed this insightful introduction of this young brasilian wondrkid 2 b i just hp he wil lev up 2 de hype nd dznt dissaper lyk Kerlon.Im looking forward 2 another comprehensive list of young Brasilian talent as im a fan of the brasilian players though i liv in SA

  • 5. Djar  |  April 1, 2009 at 10:59

    I have a question for you: Is it true that Anderson from Manchester United is injured. We have in Poland day jokes and I do not know whether it’s true.

  • 6. pitacodogringo  |  April 1, 2009 at 11:39

    thank john

    there’ll be another ‘talent factory’ post later this year that’s for sure

  • 7. pitacodogringo  |  April 1, 2009 at 13:20

    he isn’t playing. he has a thigh strain. i have just posted a probable line-up

  • 8. Amira Abdella  |  May 25, 2009 at 14:38

    Now I think Brazil need despratly a new talent to replace the former ones and its good to hear that there are sensetional talents like Neymar I wish him all the best!

  • 9. Ben  |  September 13, 2009 at 20:53

    Robinho didnt come from Futsal, he came from Futebol De Salao!…Futsal is a watered down version of FDS. FDS is what players like Pele, Zico, Socrates…and even the more modern players, Robinho, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho swear by!

  • 10. stella  |  March 7, 2010 at 16:30

    ei neymar colocando a mao no popo do pele te amo neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeymarrrrrrrrrrrr

  • 11. goool36  |  March 17, 2010 at 09:51

    he is an algerien

  • 12. beatriz  |  April 19, 2010 at 12:57

    neymar vc e lindo

  • 13. rajiv USA  |  July 27, 2010 at 21:02

    robinho sucks!!!! to compare this kid to him shows brazil are clutching at straws these days….cmon…find a new RONALDO for us! NOT robinhos, and lulinhos and andersons and crap like this.

  • 14. rajiv USA  |  July 27, 2010 at 21:06

    Hate to say it….but brazilian clubs see huge payoffs and hype these kids into just about everything when they are only decent at best. European clubs are to blame for offering such huge amounts and blowing things way out of proportion. soccer cant go on like this, there will be a meltdown. Thats why there are so many flops in brazil. For every true talent like Ronaldo or ronaldinho there are ten flops like neymar, robinho, diego, ganso,pato blah blah

  • 15. pitacodogringo  |  August 5, 2010 at 00:13

    Lulinha has just been loaned to another Portuguese team called Olhanense

  • 16. noje  |  August 14, 2010 at 04:45

    neymar is good but cant be compared to ronaldo and ronaldinho
    dunga should have put him in the wc squad

  • 17. Winning is not everything in Peru | BLE Test  |  December 29, 2010 at 02:59

    […] I was wondering whatever became of Lulinha. I seem to remember him being touted, as many Brazilian youngsters are, as one of the next […]

  • 18. Mitur Banisdirti  |  June 27, 2011 at 14:28

    u cant compare Neymar to Luinha u silly simpletons.

    -first of all the play in totally different positions (so thats like comparing david villa to Tim Cahill)

    – second of all Neymar’s style of play is different to Lulinha’s (so that like comparing Didier Drogba to Lionel Messi)


  • 19. Mira  |  August 6, 2013 at 19:11

    This design is steller! You obviously know how to keep
    a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost.
    ..HaHa!) Excellent job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!


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The man who came up with: Messi carrying Argentina. Neymar carrying Brazil. British Airways carrying England. My name is Jon Cotterill. I am an English football commentator for TV Globo in São Paulo, Brazil. Currently we're broadcasting two live Campeonato Brasileiro or Campeonato Paulista games per week plus our magazine show, Footbrazil to 180 countries. + Eu trabalho como narrador na TV Globo em São Paulo, Brasil. Atualmente, nos transmitimos dois jogos ao vivo do Campeonato Brasileiro ou Campeonato Paulista por semana e nosso programa de futebol semanal, Footbrazil.

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© Jon Cotterill and Pitacodogringo's Brazilian football site, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jon Cotterill and Pitacodogringo's Brazilian football site with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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