Neymar: the Brazilian George Best

January 25, 2011 at 16:17 9 comments



This article originally appeared in FourFourTwo 25 January 2011. But since they’ve recently removed it from their site, I’ve posted the full version here. FFT called the piece: ‘Could Chelsea target Neymar be Brazil’s answer to Man Utd Legend George Best’? – My title was: ‘Neymar the Brazilian George Best’.

“Genius, maverick, legend”. Three words often used to describe the magnificent George Best.
While we all know that the former Manchester United was a one-off, from time to time there have been players who had the talent to come close to matching the Belfast man’s genius.  At the start of his career, Ryan Giggs was labelled the ‘new George Best’. More recently, it was the turn of Cristiano Ronaldo.
And after watching Brazil’s Under-20s in Peru this week, there could be another pretender to the throne: Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior.
The Santos star put on a virtuoso performance scoring all the goals in Brazil’s 4-2 demolition job on Paraguay.
He followed that up with a fabulous individual strike versus Colombia a few days later.
While displays at Under-20 level, however stunning, may not be the most reliable barometer of a player’s potential, Neymar was quite simply several cuts above everyone else on the pitch.
Artistry, grace, sublime finishing, irreverence; the 18-year-old’s performance had it all. It was impossible not to be mesmerized as Neymar put on a display reminiscent of George Best at his most captivating.
Neymar’s build, balance, trickery, turn of pace, close skills, that ability to seemingly walk through a defence and ride a challenge, the drop of the shoulders, and some wonderful finishing. For me the similarities between the two players are striking.
But you can judge for yourself. Take a look at this video on Best  [note – the original video I used was removed from Youtube] and then watch Neymar in action versus Paraguay and Colombia.
Neymar was already well-known in Brazil long before he made his professional debut for Santos. The Vila Belmiro side picked him up as a kid and were soon touting him as yet another wunderkind from the Santos academy.
The forward made his debut versus Paulista FC on 12th March 2009. But His early performances for the Santos first team were less than convincing and it looked unlikely that the youngster could live up to the hype. I even wrote a piece questioning whether Neymar would go on to reach the (relative) heights of Robinho or sink into obscurity like the over-hyped former Corinthians teenager Lulinha.
Now less than two years on, and after commentating on many of Neymar’s games and seeing him develop (at least on the pitch) I’m more than convinced that he’s the real thing.
A born entertainer and a flash bugger to boot, Neymar has that mixture of audacity, arrogance, and above all the ability that all crowd pleasers need to perform at the highest levels of world football.
Despite his age, the forward already has an impressive strike record. He scored 13 goals in his first year as a pro. Last season he put away 44 goals. Clearly, there is a lot more to come from a player will only turn 19 next month.
Neymar made his debut for Brazil’s senior side against the USA back in August. The South Americans put on a magical display and inevitably the teenager scored.
But long before he got to wear the famous yellow jersey, the Brazilian had been on the radar of Europe’s big clubs. Last August, Chelsea had an offer of £17 million turned down. Six months on, that’s just enough for a down payment on Santos man’s £38 million buy-out clause.
But as well as the bags of talent, there is a potential for trouble. In September, Neymar had a very public falling out with Dorival Júnior when the coach ordered the player not to take a penalty in the game versus Atlético Goianiense. The teenager was caught on camera lambasting his coach and teammates. Goianiense trainer, Rene Simoês, famously labelled Neymar ‘a monster’. But within days it was Santos coach Dorival Júnior who was on his way out of the club.
While Neymar has already made up with his former boss, it’s clear that the teenager still has a lot of growing up to. Neymar says he’s learnt from his experiences but you get the feeling there’s a degree of waywardness simmering beneath the surface. The Brazilian surprised everyone by turning down a terrific offer from Chelsea and you never really know what he might get up to next.
George Best could be just as unpredictable. He walked out on United in 1974 when he was just 27 and it was all downhill from then on. But Best belonged to a different era. He was never a diver, never made a fuss about being cropped by defenders and in this respect Neymar has a lot to learn.
The Brazilian could also do with a little of Best’s dress sense. Neymar’s haircuts go from bad to worse. And, with his array of medallions, trinkets and flashy outfits there’s little danger of him making GQ’s list of the 50 most stylish men of the last 50 years as George Best did.
Fashion sense aside, Neymar has what Best had: a rare gift that lifts him head and shoulders above anything else around.
Talking about Cristiano Ronaldo, the ex Manchester United man is quoted as saying: “There have been a few players described as the new George Best over the years, but this is the first time it’s been a compliment to me”.
Would George Best be equally as happy with the comparisons with Neymar? I’d like to think he would.

© Jon Cotterill and Pitacodogringo’s Brazilian football site, 2011. 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

Entry filed under: Neymar. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Brazil U-20s x Ecuador probable starting line-ups 25 January 2011 Brazil Under 20s x Colombia probable starting line-ups 4 February 2011

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ThomaS  |  January 29, 2011 at 11:39

    Maradona good, Pele better, George Best! I truly hope for neymar and Brazilian football that Neymar outdoes Best in life. If he does this he will be happy.

  • 2. Daniel  |  January 30, 2011 at 18:25

    Lets hope so brasil needs a new shining light!!
    I do believe that the hype these youngsters get doesnt help.

    forest out the cup jon! up the hammers!!

    • 3. pitacodogringo  |  January 31, 2011 at 18:00

      Neymar was and is hyped but i think he can deliver if the attention doesn’t go to his head

      listened to the game on Radio Nottingham via the net. sounds like we were all over you in the first-half but the second period was yours. now free to concentrate on the league, which is the big priority!

  • 4. Thomas  |  January 31, 2011 at 21:15


    Do you think that if Neymar can keep it under control that being his ego, that he will benefit immensely from Elano? Elano had already been there done that. My brother in law says something that translates like Too many Roosters in the henhouse. Elano is out of control in the Paulistao right now…

    • 5. pitacodogringo  |  February 1, 2011 at 15:15

      Neymar is playing the best football of his career for the U20s in Peru right now and has put away some fabulous goals. elano’s not known for having a massive ego. so. i can’t see a problem when Neymar comes back. it will also be interesting to see how Adilson Baptista shuffles his pack when Neymar, Alan Patrick and Alex sandro return from Peru.

      i think that Santos better make the most of Neymar because if he continues in this form, someone will buy him in July!

  • […] The Brazilian George Best? « Pitaco do gringo's Brazilian football … Related Posts:George Best At Hibs | A View From The West I was not as much into football in the […]

  • 7. Neymar to move to Europe?  |  February 3, 2011 at 08:07

    From the little coverage I have seen/read Neymar has been doing wonders at the u-20’s tournament but I see you say he has a buy out clause of £38m, do you think Santos would let him leave for any less, say £25m or would they want to keep hold of him.

    Sounds like a bit of a fiery character but I think most players around that age have a few rough edges that can sometimes add to the game, would love to see him move over to Europe and than eventually in England, I think if he moved straight to England than the transition may be a bit much.

    • 8. pitacodogringo  |  February 3, 2011 at 12:43

      not a chance of him leaving for £25million – if anything, his price tag has gone up because of his performances in Peru.

      i wouldn’t see fiery – more petulant. but he’s still a teenager and has a lot of maturing to do.

      talent-wise, he’s ready for the Premier League. santos have Elano and Paulo Henrique, but Neymar is the star attraction and he thrives on the attention. when he moves to a club that has other major names, he’ll need some time to adjust to the fact that he’s not the only star turn.

  • 9. Aphilas  |  February 9, 2011 at 04:28

    Comparing to a briton, eh!! As if Brazil din’t have any. ha ha..


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Jon Cotterill. Commentator/expert/eyes on South American football. São Paulo/Buenos Aires. Trying to shout more.

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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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