Copa America 2011 Player Profiles: Neymar - Brazil

If all goes well, it won't be long before hearing 'Neymar' sends chills down defenders' spines in the same way that Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo's names inspire terror. At 19 years old, Neymar is already clearly far too good for the Brazilian league and has been linked to summer moves to some huge names, with the likes of Real Madrid and Chelsea apparently more than willing to pay through the nose for the chance to land Santos' wonder-kid.

Watching him play, it's not hard to see why. Neymar is a phenomenally talented footballer, capable of obliterating any defender in the world in all manner of ways. He can shoot, he has the vision and control to split the defence open with a clever pass, and his dribbling ability is already directly comparable to Messi's. On paper, Neymar is one of the planet's top left forwards, and on talent alone, he could crack the starting lineup for just about every team on the planet.

Brazil will be hoping the boy wonder can shine against more difficult competition than he's been able to experience with Santos (although he did help them win the Copa Libertadores, CONMEBOL's equivalent to the UEFA Champions League). He has impressed in international duty to date, but annihilating the likes of Scotland and the United States is, with all due respect to both countries than imposing himself in a game against Argentina or Uruguay.

Neymar has the raw ability to turn the tournament into his own little coming-out party, and Brazil's samba boys self identity is inherently tied to how their most flamboyant forwards play football. It would be huge for both Neymar (currently valued at 40M) and Brazil should he manage to do so. But there's something in the way of that happening, and it's something quite ugly: Himself.

No, not his hair, although though it is dire. Neymar's issue is something far deeper, and, alas, incurable with pair of scissors. While Leo Messi is calm and reserved, Neymar is a flamboyant primadonna, prone to throwing fits when he doesn't get his way. He dives. He sulks. He gets sent off for wearing a mask of himself.

Neymar's on-field personality isn't just unpleasant, it makes him into a lessor player. His habit of attempting to make fools of defenders will get him hurt, and the pouting over refereeing calls or plays that went badly has seen him mentally take the rest of a match off. It's an extraordinarily ugly sight to behold.

Of course, the major mitigating factor here is that Neymar is nineteen years old, and teenagers aren't exactly known for being the most well-adjusted people in the world. In order to overcome the spoilt brat aspect of his personality, he'll probably have to experience failure first hand, and in that regard a poor Copa may be even more beneficial to Neymar than an exceptionally strong one.

All in all, Neymar's career could go either way. In ten year's time we may be looking back at what might have been as he plies his trade in Turkey - or we could be laughing that there could ever have been any doubts that he was going to be the best player in the world. Time will tell, but in the meantime, Neymar is sure to entertain.


Name: Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior

Age: 19

Team: Brazil

Position: Forward

Club team: Santos (Brazil, Serie A)

Chances Copa America increases transfer interest: While teams on the edge of paying huge money for Neymar might be pursuaded one way or the other by his showing at the tournament, he's going to be worth a fortune no matter what.

Role in the team: Focal point of attack at left forward.

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