One of Barcelona’s most expensive, and most controversial, dreams is starting to take shape.
Neymar, Barca’s 25-year-old winger, has become the world’s most valuable player, according to CIES Football Observatory.
The study, which ranks all current players based on their performances, club’s financial status, players’ age, contract and position, puts the Brazilian’s value at £185.4 million, ahead of multiple Ballon d’Or winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who were ranked 4th and 11th, respectively, because of their ages.
More impressively is the fact that the study shows Neymar being worth £50m more than the two young players who follow him in the list: Tottenham’s young duo of Delle Alli (£136.5m) and Harry Kane (£135.2m).
Kane has won the last three Premier League Golden Boot awards, while Alli has been on a scoring tear since his breakout two years ago, and they play in the richest league in the world in the Premier League. But still, Neymar trumps both of them in value.
It should surprise no one that Neymar has risen to the top of lists like this.
Even before his controversial £88.2m move to Camp Nou in the summer of 2013, Neymar has been tipped as the player who will break the Messi-Ronaldo duopoly of the world’s best player title. With amazing timing in his runs and the flashy dribbles that dupe even the most composed defenders, Neymar has always been expected of great things, so it’s no news to see him live up to the extraordinary billing.
After a shaky debut season with Barcelona, when he scored 15 goals in 41 games, he erupted for 39 goals in 51 fixtures during Barca’s treble-winning season in 2015, including 22 goals in 33 La Liga games that term.
Throughout four seasons, Neymar has tallied 105 strikes in 186 appearances for the Catalans, winning two top flight titles, three Copa del Rey championships, one Champions League and one Club World Cup trophy.
Sure, the details of his move are still unclear, and many are still questioning its integrity today, but he has done what’s expected of him, and more.
STILL HAS WAYS TO GO
Neymar might be the first player not named Messi or Ronaldo to be recognized as the world’s best, but he is not impervious to poor form and the eventual bites of the annoying injury bug.
Just last term, the Mogi das Cruzes native saw a three-year worst return in goals and appearances since his debut. He “only” had 20 goals in 45 games, including just 13 strikes in 30 fixtures in La Liga.
He has been hampered by hamstring discomfort, and has been suspended thrice since March 2016.
The 25-year-old is also suspect to moments of lapses in concentration and failing to control his temper. He has gotten into altercation with opponents because of his flair, which to others can be overboard and be disrespectful.
So for the first time in his young Barcelona career, he’ll have a true test, a true bounce back season to make.
With star teammate Messi aged 29, and another star teammate Luis Suarez aged 30, it is sooner than later that Neymar will be the main star of the Camp Nou show, and with his record of making the best of his capabilities, expect him to handle it how he handled his challenges in the past: with Brazilian flair.