Neymar Needs To Follow Lionel Messi's Example To Avoid Ending Up Like Gazza
Neymar da Silva Santos Junior is without doubt the most famous 18-year-old footballer on the planet. The prodigious striker has many suitors. However, following a bust-up of biblical proportions with his manager last week, it would appear as if Chelsea dodged a bullet when their £25 million offer was turned down.
The famous incident with Dorival Jr. came about after the youngster was taken down for a penalty against Atletico Goianiense. With Neymar having missed Santos' last three penalties, Dorival decided to chose another player for the vital spot-kick.
As the penalty was scored Neymar berated Dorival and his team mates on the bench from a height in a tantrum that a two-year-old would have been proud of. Everyone was shocked, from team mates to opponents, especially his manager.
Neymar even went as far as telling his team mates that he would never pass the ball to any of them ever again after they had betrayed him.
Having seen the incident first hand, Goianiense’s manager Rene Simoes had this to say.
"What this lad has done is unacceptable. I'm disappointed. I've always worked with youngsters and I've never seen anything like this. Someone has to educate this kid or we're going to create a monster."
Dorival was obviously upset at Neymar's behaviour and tried to suspend his star-striker for two weeks. I say tried because Santos' board only allowed the player to be suspended for seven days, and sacked Dorival for wanting a further extension.
Essentially allowing Neymar to dictate the terms at the club, as he is the biggest and most valuable star at the club.
The match that Santos' board deemed so vital to sack their manager over was the Classico Alvi-negro against bitter rivals Corinthians. Manager less Santos were beaten 3-2 despite Neymar opening the scoring.
Neymar is such a huge star in Brazil now, and has been for the last five or six years, that he is basically treated like a God wherever he goes. He is also incredibly important to the brand of Santos in Brazil and having made him their highest paid player of all-time in the summer, to fend off Chelsea.
The club are now basically being held to ransom by the player.
The publicity and revenue that the youngster generates is hugely important to the club, hence their stance with Dorival, but one cannot help feel that this was a battle the club should have sided with their manager on.
Because the route they have now decided to go down reads something like a contract with the devil after meeting him at midnight on a dusty crossroad.
Before he was sacked by the club, Dorival Jr. had spoken with great dignity about the problem of Neymar and how these young players are now feted throughout Brazil.
"We're all to blame in this case," he said last week. "Unhappily, we live in a country where we've lost our references and people act as they please. Institutions such as the family and the education system are not working properly, and there are no positive references for Neymar.
What the former-midfielder was trying to get at is that young players in Brazil are now viewing themselves as being better than everyone else. It is an incredibly tough situation for them and very few if any remain grounded in reality.
Most leave school and the education system, if they're lucky enough to even have an education, at around 13-years-of age and if they are prodigious, as Neymar obviously was, they are immediately treated like royalty.
Families tend not to protect their children from the pit falls of celebrity life for one so young, as very often their child's career bankrolls the entire family and it is in their own interest to keep the money coming in to better their own lifestyles.
While there were many who spoke out against Neymar joining Chelsea at such a young age and moving to a league that has proven to be a graveyard for many a Brazilian before him, there were a few who reckoned that a move away from the influence of his entourage and into a bigger pond would help him develop emotionally as well as technically.
The level of skill that Neymar has shown since making his debut last year is just frightening. He is incredibly quick and direct, with his speed of footwork just dazzling to see.
In many ways, he is reminiscent of Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of dribbling ability and need to steal the limelight on the pitch, but he shows superior signs of vision in terms of creativity.
It is little wonder that some of the world's largest teams started sending scouts over to watch the free-scoring striker.
In his debut season with Santos, he managed an impressive 14 goals from 48 games. This season, at just 18, he has doubled that output with an amazing 32 goals from 46 games.
When it looked as if the immensely talented youngster was about to sign for Chelsea for £25 million, having increased from their initial offer of £17 million, Santos asked Robinho and Pele to talk him into staying at the club.
Brazil's Sports Minister was also called in to intervene as newspapers ran with headlines likening Neymar to a national treasure and that to lose him from the country would be nothing short of criminal.
While Mario Zagallo, a former Brazilian international and manager, and Mano Menezes, the current Brazil manager, tried to force the issue home by commenting on the proposed transfer during Neymar's first press conference in the lead up to his first cap.
Neymar managed to score in his debut as Brazil cruised to a 2-0 win over the United States and in doing so he joined an elite group of stars like Pele and Zico.
What everything added up to was the inflating of an ego that had steadily grown to huge proportions over the last six years.
While Pele was trying to talk the youth into staying with the club, he was also publicly stating that he was worried about how much young players were earning these days.
Saying that minds could easily be swayed by having such extravagant amounts waved in front of them.
Santos' answer to keeping Neymar at the club was to make the 18-year-old their highest paid player of all time.
Under the murky terms of his new contract, Santos would continue to pay him €70,000 per month with private investors and sponsors’ paying what is suspected to be a similar amount.
In short those sponsors want to see their investment on the pitch and care little for the turmoil it may bring about on or off the pitch.
It leaves Neymar being used as a tool for the financial gain of others outside football. Many of these hangers-on, his entourage if you will, are only with the kid for self serving gain and the sooner he rids himself of these "yes-men," the sooner he will begin to grow up.
When looking at this situation, one can't but help compare Neymar to Paul Gascoigne. The ex-England international was one of the most exciting players of his generation and was also coveted by every major team after making his major break through at Spurs.
While Gazza never had an on-pitch bust up with his teammates over a penalty, he did struggle to come to terms with expectations on the wider stage.
His off-pitch meltdown as Terry Venable's readied his Spurs team for the 1991 FA Cup final with Nottingham Forest springs to mind.
One of Gascoigne's biggest problems was the people he surrounded himself with. Hangers-on who encouraged his bingeing off the pitch and who used the star as their meal-ticket.
Neymar's problems stem from not having a solid grounding and if he is to join the likes of Zico and Pele as true legends, he will do well to separate himself from the leeches that support his ego to feed off him.
Not taking advice from the likes of Robinho would probably be the best place to start.
His star has taken a severe dent this week and top clubs in Europe will be more wary of signing the prodigy than ever before.
As a South American player he will long ago have accepted that to be considered a true success and possibly a great he will have to move to Europe and make the break through.
As Lionel Messi can testify, moving abroad to the right surroundings can reap huge benefits both in terms of football and in terms of personal development.
The little Argentinean is still an incredibly grounded individual despite being the highest-paid player in the world.
Neymar should follow his example. Concentrate on football, let loose the leeches, and grow up. If he doesn't, he will be just another "next Pele" in a long, long line.