A transfer saga of monumental proportions has come to an end, as Brazilian wonderkid Neymar has confirmed that he will join Spanish giants Barcelona this summer.
The rumour mill has been in overdrive concerning the supremely talented Santos forward, with a move to Europe touted since he shot into the international limelight in 2010. With Real Madrid and undoubtedly a number of other suitors interested in the forward, his decision to move to Barcelona will be a boost for the Catalan side.
The news was broken on Barcelona’s Twitter page over the weekend, before an official statement confirmed that the 21-year-old South American would move to Camp Nou. The transfer fee is believed to be in the €28 million mark, with a five-year contract put in place.
FC Barcelona have reached an agreement with Santos for Neymar. The Brazilian player will join FC Barcelona for the next five seasons.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 26, 2013
Santos had accepted similar offers from both Barcelona and Clasico rivals Real Madrid, however allowed the player to choose his destination. The fact that Neymar choose to move to Catalunya over the Spanish capital will come as a real bonus for Barca, especially given their intention to strengthen this summer.
The Brazilian will take some of the goalscoring burden away from Lionel Messi, and provide a shot in the arm to a team that have finally looked fallible this season. Neymar is looking forward to the challenge, and to playing alongside Barca’s top players.
“To play with Messi, Xavi and Iniesta is a great honour.
“It’s a dream to be going to Barca. I leave Santos through the front door. I hope to return to my second home [in the future], which is Santos.
“I feel fantastic, very happy and grateful to Santos and I’m already thinking about Barca.”
Neymar’s signing is exactly what Barcelona need. Although Tito Vilanova’s men won La Liga at a canter, they are not the team that once struck fear into the hearts of every opponent. Their 7-0 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-finals exposed their weaknesses, while the Blaugrana have not beaten Madrid in five consecutive Clasicos in all competitions.
Other players of quality are needed at Camp Nou for Barcelona to re-emerge as the formidable force that dominated European football in the late 2000’s. A strong central defender must be next on the list, while contingency plans to replace older players in the future is needed.
Madrid will see Neymar’s decision to join Barca as a blow, however may well now turn their attention to someone like Gareth Bale instead. Barcelona needed Neymar more than Madrid necessarily did.
The step up for Neymar will be considerable. Week-in, week-out, the Camp Nou crowd will expect wonders from their new signing. The Catalan faithful will recall a legacy of Brazilian heroes to don the Blaugrana strip, such as Romario, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo.
Neymar’s name might well be next on the list, however he has a long road ahead of him – he will be charged with rejuvenating the best team in world football over the last 20 years back to their former glory.