Football has produced greats who have graced the game with their magic over the years. The yesteryears have given us geniuses like Pele of Brazil, Diego Maradona of Argentina and Johan Cruyff from the Netherlands. They played and performed, match after match and were seemingly unparalleled throughout their careers.
The state of affairs in the modern game has thrown us a curve ball. The world of football has been blessed with not one but two of the greatest players of the modern era and perhaps of all time; Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
On a personal level, they have surpassed every footballer and left them leagues behind. For their clubs as well, the two men have left it all on the pitch, inspiring their teams to countless victories and numerous memorable trophy nights.
It has been a decade since this great rivalry began and it can be fair to suggest that football has witnessed history. Neither have backed down and it seems that the threat of one icon surpassing the other has seen both geniuses transcend all possible human levels of excellence in football.
However, as the saying goes, one day the show must come to an end. These men will have to pass on the baton of eminence to the next prodigy in line. Many have tried and failed for it is no easy task to displace Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at the helm of world football.
Of the current crop of superstars, the likes of Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard and most recently Mohamed Salah have been tipped to take over the mantle but there is another man whose name has distinctly stood out from the rest; Neymar.
The Brazilian was and perhaps is still the favourite son of football to take over the throne in the post-Messi-Ronaldo era. The Brazilian was born with magic on his feet and many have considered him to be the ideal mix of LM10 and CR7.
He has a 101 ways to get past a man without breaking a sweat. He can shoot and score from literally anywhere on the pitch and he can do it all with style. Most importantly, however, Neymar’s samba is consistent and many a great defender has already danced to the Brazilian’s music.
He has a tall, slick build which allows him to rollerblade past defenders as if on a skateboard and it has made him untouchable when on the ball. The player made his name in Brazil and after flirting with a host of clubs in Europe, he finally chose to team up with Lionel Messi at Barcelona.
The duo, supported by Luis Suarez up front, terrorized Europe’s defences to find their way to the top of the club circuit. They were set to dominate for years but the money came in between the bond of the brothers. The cash-rich owners of Paris came in with a mind-boggling offer for Neymar and swooped him away.
Neymar, for his part, left not only for money but also to escape the shadow of Lionel Messi. At the Catalan club, Messi is the law; something Neymar’s personal ambition to be the best was unwilling to accept.
The move to France proved to be a decision of mixed luck for Neymar. He has proven himself to be the best at the French capital but winning the Ligue 1 is hardly a sign of greatness. He has failed on the big European stage and may soon choose to move again to test himself against the best in Spain.
Having already made his Barcelona relationship bitter, it is unlikely the player and the Catalan giant will reconcile and a player of Neymar’s stature will certainly not join any other club which is not the best. This has led to a logical conclusion that the only other party in Spain and possibly in Europe who can bring him in is Real Madrid.
The Galacticos, as the name suggests, are the superstars of club football. Football is not just a game at Santiago Bernabeu; it is a brand. The arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, a decade back, has helped the royal club of Madrid soar back to heights of great prominence.
It now seems that Madrid may be on their way to bringing in Neymar as well. Real president Florentino Perez has always been the man to go out and bring in a star from the football galaxy and the scoop of Neymar may well transcend the one of Ronaldo, a decade back.
Should the Neymar move go through, it is, however, definitely likely to worsen the relations amongst Neymar, Real and Barca. Lionel Messi was made aware of a possible impending deal in the near future and the 5-time Ballon d’Or was definitely unhappy with the media reports.
“It would be terrible because of everything that Ney means to Barcelona,” Messi told TyC Sports. “Although [Neymar’s time in Barcelona] ended the way it did, he won important titles here, he won the Champions League, he won La Liga.”
“If he ends up in Madrid it would be a tough blow for us and for all of Barcelona. And on a football level, it would make Madrid much stronger than they already are.”
The move will see Neymar team up with CR7, something that is definitely likely to tip the scales in favour of Madrid against Barcelona. The much-fabled apprentice of Messi will be seen lining up against his former mentor alongside the iconic Ronaldo.
There is, however, a lot yet to go before such a day can come. Football transfers these days take a lot before it can go through and a move of the magnitude of Neymar will see another world record fee broken; hence it can be safely suggested that it will take a lot longer than expected.
Until such a day comes, the players will be seen operating from their current clubs and Neymar will have to be content with being the prince of football; especially with the two wizards of El Classico still brandishing their magic day in day out.