Santos striker Neymar has signed a five-year agreement with Barcelona, ending years of speculation about his future as a football player in the wake of attempts by Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid to sign the Brazilian sensation.
A statement by Barcelona regarding Neymar's signing read:
The player is known for his exquisite technical skills which makes this free-scoring striker a nightmare for any defence.
His style is beautiful to watch and he has received recognition and praise from the legendary Pelé himself, of whom many believe he is the modern successor.
FC Barcelona and Santos FC have agreed to terms for Neymar da Silva Junior. The Brazilian forward will don the Blaugrana strip for the next five seasons.
Santos faced pressure to accept offers for Neymar given that his contract expired in July 2014 and consequently, Neymar would have been able to enter into pre-contract agreements with other clubs six months from now. A Santos statement noted that they tried everything possible to retain Neymar, but were unable to compete with this week's offers from Barcelona and Real Madrid:
Every effort was made to keep him in Brazil as long as possible, even offering to renew the current contract, which ends in July 2014. At this time, however, it was not possible to compete with the terms offered from abroad, which affected the decision of the player to review his professional life. Due to the confidentiality agreement, and by mutual agreement, the terms of the transfer will not be disclosed by any of the parties.
Neymar is famous for his flamboyant dribbling abilities and love of taking on defenders using a combination of flicks, step over moves and pace. He is also known for his free kicks, penalties marked by long run ups to the penalty spot and corner kicks delivered with exquisite precision. He has been at Santos for nine years and is largely responsible for the greatest success enjoyed by the club since Pele's era in the 1970s. Neymar led Santos to the 2011 Copa Libertadores trophy, the 2010 Brazil Serie A championship and three consecutive Sao Paulo statement tournaments. Both for Santos and Brazil, Neymar typically plays on the far left and then cuts inside toward goal, but has typically been granted carte blanche authority to roam all over the pitch in a sign of coaching respect that recalls the freedom similarly accorded to Brazil's legend Ronaldo.
Neymar's decision to play in Europe will be enthusiastically applauded by coaches and pundits in Brazil, many of whom feel that the spiky haired Santos 21-year-old needs more experience playing against European defenses in order to lead Brazil to victory at the 2014 World Cup. Neymar has scored 138 goals for Santos in 229 matches, and 20 goals in 32 appearances for Brazil. Many critics in Brazil, however, have argued that Neymar has yet up to live up to his potential when playing against European-style defenses marked by an additional player that is ready to mark the striker after he beats the primary defender on the dribble. Neymar will join Barcelona after the Confederations Cup on June 30. He played one final game for Santos against Flamengo this past Sunday, in a match where he was booed by Santos fans despite his efforts to pay tribute to the club that he helped resurrect and lead over the last five years.
Neymar has been singled out by Brazilian luminaries such as the late Socrates, Pele and others as the only truly great player of his generation in Brazil. Given the wealth of experience enabled by playing alongside Lionel Messi and some of the best defenders in the world in European competition, Neymar's move to Barcelona now renders him better positioned to lead Brazil to a record sixth World Cup title on home soil in the summer of 2014. The obvious question, now, however, is where Barcelona will position him alongside Messi up front and how well he will adapt to European football.