Brazil's Neymar (R) reacts before the medal ceremony after losing to Mexico in their men's soccer final gold medal match at Wembley Stadium during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 11, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Nigel Roddis )
Brazilian superstar Neymar has promised to stay with Santos until after the 2014 World Cup, but the pressure continues to increase for the 21 year old to run off to Europe.
Former legend Rivaldo recently stated that Neymar and other Brazilian players needed to go to Europe if they hope to succeed in lifting the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
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The next transfer window is in January and speculation is that Neymar will be headed to Europe in that time period. He has mentioned interest in five clubs: Manchester United, PSG, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Chelsea. Reports indicate that Man U is the least likely place while Barcelona almost pulled off the deal last summer.
But the other three clubs are still in strong contention. Spanish newspaper AS stated that Barcelona and Real Madrid are both very realistic possibilities.
Earlier in the season it was widely believed that former Brazilian superstar Kaka was on his way out of Real Madrid. But with impressive play in the last few weeks, Kaka has not only played his way back into the Madrid lineup but also back into the national team where he will play alongside Neymar. The younger player has already stated that Kaka is an idol of his and it is possible that their bonding this coming week could tip the scales in Real Madrid's favor. But how else would his transfer to Madrid alter the squad?
Cristiano Ronaldo is 27 years old and the future of the squad for the next few years. He is more of a pure striker but has been used a bit on the flanks while Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain have taken turns up top. For the last few weeks, Benzema has been coach Jose Mourinho's choice but he has been inconsistent. His play in the Clasico was a perfect portrayal of being invisible. Higuain started off extremely well, but has seen his time and opportunity dwindle over the last few weeks leading to questions about his future. Madrid also has Morata waiting in the wings to take over at forward.
If Neymar were to come over, he would likely be playing up top or would be moved to where Ronaldo is playing and have the Portuguese player move up top. Higuain or Benzema would have to sit on the bench and one of them would likely see his days end at the Bernabeau. Like a Messi-Neymar tandem, the Neymar-Ronaldo tandem could work even better as Ronaldo is more of a natural scorer while Neymar is a strong playmaker.
The only real issue here is whether he could gel with Ronaldo. Lionel Messi likes to have the ball but he is a highly team oriented player and he makes plays to set up other players. He scores in abundance but is no slack when it comes to setting up others. His 27 assists last year are a clear example of this. Ronaldo is not quite the same kind of player and tends to be more attack minded. He can make great plays to others, but he seldom assists as much as Messi does. Neymar is equally attack minded and knows how to finish so the greatest concern would revolve around whether one of them would willing to resort to more of a pass first attitude rather than a striking mode.
The other issue here would be Ronaldo's ego. At 27, he only has a few great years left while Neymar's 21 years old would make him the face of the team in just a few years. Could Ronaldo deal with that? Would he be okay with another player being the face of the team? He has reportedly been upset that keeper Iker Casillas was getting more support for the Ballon D'Or from Real Madrid and if it irks him that his keeper is getting attention, imagine when a fellow striker joins the fray?
This move could work as either insurance for the future when the team will be ready for life without Ronaldo or even as a tandem with Ronaldo. But the latter scenario only works if the striker is willing to put his ego in check and work with Neymar. If this can happen, then Real Madrid could be the best team in the world for a few years.