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Scouting Report: Neymar da Silva

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Brazilian prodigy Neymar dos Santos thanks the heavens that he's going to Chelsea and not Manchester City.
Brazilian prodigy Neymar dos Santos thanks the heavens that he's going to Chelsea and not Manchester City.

Update: The British press have Neymar as further away from signing, but for a lower price. They also have an update on the Ramires situation - his transfer's supposed to be done by tomorrow. Source: Telegraph

It's hard to find much to say about this kid without the praise becoming hyperbolic. Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, who happily goes by just his first name, is an 18-year old Brazilian who made his full international debut on Tuesday, which was a couple of months too late, in the opinion of some (most?) Brazilian fans. For those of you who had a chance to watch him play merry havoc with the United States a couple of days ago, I'm sure you came away pretty impressed. It's very rare that an 18-year old is showing that much poise on that big a stage, and I thought that he significantly outplayed established stars like Robinho and Alexandre Pato.

If Ramires (whose signing still hasn't been finalise, as far as I'm aware) is new Brazil, Neymar is a flashback to the old. He's already being compared to Pele, and while you have to take any comparisons of that nature with a mountain of salt, that's some lofty, lofty praise. Neymar is 5'8" but tiny for his height, but he's been adding muscle over the past couple of years and he's starting to get the strength he'll need to play against the physical defenders of the Premier League.

His style is guaranteed to draw fouls, as he's got an absolutely divine touch to go with the charming mentality that the defence is a toy to be played with and teased, something that I imagine the Richard Dunnes of the world will take exception to. It probably won't matter, though. He displays exceptionally quick feet, the sort of acceleration that would make a cheetah blush (see, I'm doing it now), and the ability to finish pretty handily when put through, scoring 14 goals in 31 games for club side Santos last year, a handy total for a winger. His headed goal against Tim Howard was taken with aplomb, and he brushed off US defender Jonathan Bornstein without problems in the aerial battle for the ball*.

It's really all about adjustments for Neymar at this point. He's excelled at the club level in Brazil and was much better than anyone on the US team, including Landon Donovan, but he was up against Jonathan Spector at right back, which isn't going to be the best gauge of anyone's ability. If he can settle into the Premier League, he's obviously going to be a force, but don't take that for granted - many players have never managed to adapt to the European game, and he's probably a significantly riskier buy than most would have you believe.

£30M is an extremely steep price tag for a player who's never even smelled a Premier League calibre defence, but with the glowing reports from pretty much everyone, Chelsea were obligated to take a gamble rather than let City ruin another Brazilian wunderkid. I'd expect Neymar to adjust to England, but to take his time doing so - don't expect too much of him this season. However, the sky really is the limit and if he develops as expected he's going to be a superstar. Reports from Brazil have him in New York putting pen to paper on his first contract as we speak, and although I have some lingering doubts on whether this is a wise purchase, it's certainly an extremely exciting one.

Just shave that ridiculous mohawk and we'll be best friends.

*Admittedly, Bornstein didn't look like he had a clue what he was doing.

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