How Neymar almost joined a Premier League team
There is rarely a day when Brazilian sensation Neymar Jr is not linked with a transfer to another club. It is something that has followed Neymar around since he made his professional debut for Santos in 2009 at the tender age of 17. Neymar has grown used to speculation about his future because it happens when you are one of the best footballers on the planet. As it happens, Neymar has only ever played for Santos, Barcelona, and Paris Saint-Germain, but his career could have taken an entirely different path had one of two transfers come off in his early career.
Neymar traveled to Spain for tryouts with the Real Madrid youth team. Real Madridâ€™s squad at the time boasted of the likes of David Beckham, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, and Zinedine Zidane, and they were always favorites with sports betting sites to win plenty of silverware each season. Neymarâ€™s father decided it was better for Neymar to stay in his native Brazil with Santos to continue his development despite impressing the Real Madrid coaching staff.
Making His Debut Aged Only 17
A terrific debut season in 2009 saw Neymar score 14 goals in 48 appearances in all competitions for Santos despite him only being 17. His incredible dribbling skills, vision, and eye for goal made him a prime target for top European clubs.
Premier League outfit West Ham United offered Santos ÂŁ10 million for Neymar in 2010. Santos rejected the bid, leading to West Ham increasing its offer to ÂŁ16 million. Again, Santos said no.
West Hamâ€™s London rivals, Chelsea, were also interested in Neymar and tried their luck with a bid thought to be in the region of ÂŁ26 million. Santos stood firm and stated their prize jewel was not for sale, while Neymar came out in the Brazilian press and said he was only interested in playing more games for Santos. Neymar ultimately stayed with Santos until 2013, scoring 136 goals in 225 games, but imagine if he had graced the English Premier League with his presence back in 2010. Where would Neymar be now?
Success in Spain, Relative Failure in France?
Barcelona paid Santos â‚¬86.2 million for Neymarâ€™s signature in June 2013. The Spanish giants placed a â‚¬190 million release clause in his contract, which nobody in the world thought anyone would pay because doing so would obliterate the world record transfer fee.
Neymar enjoyed four hugely successful seasons at Barcelona. His 105 goals in 186 games helped the Catalan side win two la Liga titles, the Copa del Ray three times, and the UEFA Champions League. Then, on August 3, 2017, Barcelona received a staggering â‚¬222 million from the French club Paris Saint-Germain.
His time in France has been mixed, with PSG dominating its domestic competitions but faltering in Europe. Injuries have not been kind to Neymar either, with this campaign being the first time he has managed to play more than 20 league games in the five seasons he has been in the French capital.
Most football fans, probably Neymar, thought PSGâ€™s Kyllian Mbappe was almost sure to leave the club and sign for Real Madrid. However, Mbappe put pen to paper on an extraordinary contract with PSG, which gave him a â‚¬180 million loyalty bonus plus a â‚¬50 million per year salary. In addition, Mbappe has a say over player recruitment, which could spell the end of Neymarâ€™s Paris career. Why? Because Mbappe publicly stated he wants to play in a more balanced team.
What now for Neymar?
Neymar has already said he will be staying at PSG for the coming season. However, it may be because of his contract that he remains in France, not because he wants to be a PSG player.
He is tied to a mega-money contract until June 2025, so he would command a hefty transfer fee. While it would be nowhere near the record-breaking â‚¬222 million PSG paid for Neymar, one would think they would want around â‚¬90-â‚¬100 million for him. Not many teams in the world can afford this sum or are willing to pay it for a 30-year-old who has shown to be somewhat prone to injury. Then there are Neymarâ€™s massive wages on top of any transfer fee, which essentially prices him out of any move away from the Parc des Princes.Â
Neymar will be 33 when his contract expires. Would it not be a fairytale ending if he returned to Santos and gave the club that launched him a couple of seasons while playing for free? Stranger things have happened in football.
Sources: psg.fr / bbc.co.uk