Real Madrid may or may not end up signing up Neymar.
But we are not totally convinced if he would be a worthy signing for Real Madrid (or for Barcelona).
The thing, there are certain things that a football player has to do in order to be considered in the same league as the best players in the world.
Unfortunately for Neymar and everybody else, the best players in the world are Ronaldo and Messi.
The rest of the guys just go home every night and wish they could reach the level that Messi and Ronaldo have.
And yes, Ibrahimovic can only dream of winning as much as Messi and Ronaldo.
But that is beside the point.
We want to focus on why Neymar, whether or not he ends up at Real Madrid, is simply not at the level of Ronaldo and Messi.
He is probably in the next highest league with Bale being one further league lower (just to give you an idea of where things stand in our world).
So without further ado, here are the reasons why we believe Neymar is simply not even near the level of greatness that people usually associate with both Ronaldo and Neymar.
Neymar doesn’t have the sense of the state of play
What does that mean?
It means he doesn’t know what to do at a given stage during a football match.
Well, of course, he does since he plays for some of the biggest clubs in the world.
But he doesn’t do it as well as Ronaldo and Messi.
When you look at Messi and Ronaldo, you can clearly see that in the vast majority of cases, both of them know when they have to pass and when they have to dribble.
They also know when they should take a shot and what kind of shot they should take in order to maximize their chances of scoring a goal.
Similarly, they know which runs to make and when to make them.
Messi and Ronaldo, more than any other player in the world, are able to do all of the above at precisely the right moments in the game.
And if the opponent is not ready or makes a mistake, they score.
That is why you see Ronaldo and Messi scoring so many goals over so many seasons.
It is true that Ronaldo scored way less than Messi last season.
But that is mainly because he doesn’t play for an attacking side anymore. Then there are a host of other factors to consider such as the league not suiting Ronaldo’s strong points or the system at Juventus not allowing him to express himself as well as we know he can.
We can’t say that for Messi since he has consistently shown his unwillingness to leave Barcelona and seek a worthy goal elsewhere.
And the Serie A is not like La Liga where you are able to score goals each and every game without a worry in the world.
However, this is not about who is better between Messi and Ronaldo.
This guide is about how Neymar still has not achieved that sense of the state of play.
Sometimes he would go on dribbles at the start of the game during his time at Barcelona and even at PSG while knowing full well that every defender would be full of energy at that point and would not have any problems in closing him down quick.
Ronaldo used to be that way when he was in his teens.
Then he started learning.
Messi, for all his faults, had this sense of the state of play from the first day he played for Barcelona and he has only gotten better at it.
In order to reach the next level of footballing ability, Neymar needs to work on his timing and understanding of the game.
It is like Mike Tyson once said that you could have the most powerful punch in the world but if you don’t know how to land that punch in the right place, it wasn’t going to do you much good.
Neymar, currently, gets way too excited whenever he goes past one or two defenders.
He then immediately wants to shoot regardless of what the scoreline is or where his teammates are.
These are just some of the problems which are stopping Neymar from getting to the level of Ronaldo and Messi.
This probably applies to every other player not named Messi and Ronaldo.
Ronaldo and Messi are consistent whether or not they score a goal.
You would rarely see a match where they are unable to make an impact for the whole 90 minutes.
Neymar has a tendency to disappear for vast swathes of the game and he doesn’t seem to have that tenacity to get back into the game if he is having a bad day.
Ronaldo used to be like that.
But he changed his ways towards the end of his days at Manchester United and truly became a legend afterward.
On the other hand, Neymar can do a lot of cool things with the ball.
But he doesn’t know how to translate that into something that we can call an ‘output’.
There is no point in beating 4 or 5 defenders when, in the end, you are not going to score a goal or pass the ball to a teammate who may be in a better position to create or score a goal.
Neymar has also shown that he doesn’t care in which direction he is moving while he is dribbling or going past players.
What we mean to say is that sometimes he dribbles towards his own goal.
That’s a big problem.
One of the reasons why Messi is considered as the greatest dribbler of all time is that he is able to go straight ahead with the ball towards the opponent’s goal.
Most world-class players tend to dribble in a slightly horizontal direction to give themselves more margin for error.
There are others like Makalele and Pique who simply cannot go forward with the ball.
They either pass back to some other player or move the ball horizontally.
Messi, and somewhat Ronaldo, are able to dribble past defenders and then put the finishing touches in there as well.
Neymar along with a long list of attacking players both current and retired, tends to not just do the useless horizontal dribbling but sometimes does reverse dribbling in the sense that after doing a particular dribble he is closer to his own goal than he was before he started to dribble.
If Neymar cannot develop his dribbling skills enough, he will not be able to consistently perform at a high level like Messi and Ronaldo.
That is aside from the fact that Neymar sometimes does not want to perform.
And yes, he can come up with all the excuses in the world like he doesn’t care for football that much or the fact that football is just a game, but the truth is that he doesn’t want to bear the burden of high expectations.
Ronaldo and Messi seem to enjoy taking on more responsibility and are always ready to surpass expectations.
As for statistics, we all know that Messi and Ronaldo have scored over 50 goals a season a multiple number of times at the highest level of football.
Neymar, on the other hand, has never gone beyond 39 and that too when he was playing for Barcelona, the most attacking and aggressive side in the world.
No physical strength
To be fair, Neymar is not the worst player in the world when it comes to enduring tackles and pushes that have become all too common in the modern game.
He can run with the ball with great speed and can do so for pretty much the whole of the game.
But he doesn’t defend an inch of the pitch.
That is in stark contrast to the likes of Ronaldo and Messi, both of whom can help out the defense.
They are able to do so for two reasons.
Both are strong physically so they are able to get in there and recover the ball for the team.
And both have tremendous stamina.
Neymar doesn’t have the same level of strength and/or stamina.
While most folks associate stamina and strength with running all the time and jostling with other players (respectively), but the fact is, when you run out of stamina and strength you are not able to shoot well, pass well or even dribble well.
That further brings down your level of play.
The other factor is fitness.
Ronaldo and Messi are not even in the same galaxy as Neymar when it comes to fitness.
Both Messi and Ronaldo have demonstrated that they can perform for 50 plus games per season, season after season.
Neymar has not done that.
The only time Neymar played over 50 games was in 2014-2015.
And considering these are his peak years, you can rest assured that he won’t be playing many 50-game seasons in his career.
On that note, we should also mention that Neymar is very fragile near his ankle area.
Recent reports even mentioned that Real Madrid had reservations about the player’s condition and held meetings with the medical staff at PSG to determine the full extent of Neymar’s injuries.
That is something you would never hear about Messi or Ronaldo.
Despite minor injuries, both players have managed to stay injury-free for much of their career.
Yes, some would say that Ronaldo and Messi won the gene lottery.
And they did.
But they also worked insanely hard to make sure they don’t miss games when their clubs need them the most.
This level of commitment to excellence is very rare.
How many times have we seen players not reach their potential simply because they are unable to keep fit enough?
And remember, when we say fit we don’t just mean staying safe from injuries.
We mean that an elite player should be able to endure all the tackles and falls and not get injured.
We also mean that an elite player should not get injured because of some flu or jet lag.
Of course, it is easy to say and extremely hard to do.
But that is why Messi and Ronaldo are the only players who can truly say that they have played the maximum amount of football in their careers that they could have played.
The Brazillian Ronaldo struggled with his fitness issues all his career.
It is another fact that many still consider him to be a better player than Messi and Ronaldo but the fact is, the Brazillian Ronaldo could have ended the debate of who is the greatest player of all time if he had just stayed fit.
Maybe his style of play did not allow him to remain fit.
That is another area where Messi and Ronaldo have excelled.
With advancing age, they have changed their game to the extent that you would barely believe the way they played 10 years ago.
That has allowed them to remain injury-free and play at a high level for such a long time.
Neymar doesn’t have that level of discipline.
Moreover, he is from Brazil, a country that has made a reputation of wasted attacking talent.
Some of the bright players that emerged out of Brazil but did not do justice to their talent include,
Incredibly, at the same time, Brazil has produced some of the most consistent and professional defensive players in history. Some of which are,
- Daniel Alves
- Roberto Carlos
In other words, Neymar has a huge burden of breaking the trend here.
And we don’t think he has the physical strength to stay in shape for a long period of time.
Neymar came to La Liga a bit late
Neymar came to La Liga when he was around 21 or 22.
That is undoubtedly young.
But consider the fact that Messi had already scored his greatest goal for Barcelona (against Getafe in the semi-final of Copa Del Ray) at 19 and Ronaldo played his first game for Manchester United at 17.
Ronaldo won his first Premier League title at 21.
Neymar came a bit late to the party and hence at 27, does not have a single FIFA Best Player of the Year award to his name.
We don’t think that is going to change now.
Neymar has clearly shown that there is a huge difference between the quality of football that is played in Brazil and in Europe.
In Brazil, Neymar could do no wrong.
He dribbled, he passed and he scored goals all on his own.
In La Liga?
Not so much even though out of the top 4 leagues in Europe, La Liga arguably has the weakest defense.
In contrast, Ronaldo started his career in England very early and proved himself against some of the toughest defenders in the world very quickly.
Similarly, Messi started to perform in the Champions League from a very early age.
We’re not saying Neymar has not done anything in the Champions League.
But whatever he has achieved is way below that Ronaldo and Messi had achieved when they were 27 as is Neymar now.
Attitude is not the greatest
Perhaps the greatest reason why we believe Neymar will never come close to the level of excellence that Messi and Ronaldo have achieved is his attitude.
He just doesn’t have it.
Again, maybe it is a thing with Brazillian attacking players because very few of them have this discipline about them that you regularly see in attacking players from places such as England, Germany, and other European countries.
On that note, Messi is a bit of an anomaly himself because Argentina also has had problems in the past with its attacking players not maintaining a high level of play for more than a couple of years.
With all the news surrounding Neymar and how he doesn’t like to work hard in training, gives us enough evidence that if Neymar doesn’t radically change his ways, he will simply burn out within the next 2 or 3 years.
Ronaldo and Messi have handled fame and money very wisely.
In fact, both have started to work harder as they have started to age to the point that they are now much more professional than they were in their 20s.
We don’t think that will happen with Neymar.
If previous attacking greats from Brazil provide us any clue, then that is Neymar will probably drop his level of football inside 3 to 4 years.
After that, he will just fade away and probably end up his career either in the US or in China.
We’re not saying there is anything wrong with that.
In fact, we believe that Ronaldo and Messi will do the same in order to make some more money to take care of their families and extended families.
What we are saying is that Neymar will probably spend, what would have been his peak years, in the lower leagues.
Moreover, there are two kinds of attitude that you need in order to get to where Ronaldo and Messi are.
In the first type of attitude, you need to be like Messi.
Messi likes to play football because he wants to improve his game.
Yes, he wants to make money and win things as well.
But his mind is more on getting better and better.
The other kind of attitude is where you are like Ronaldo.
Ronaldo also wants to get better and better.
But he mostly wants to get better to earn more money and win more things.
Both types of attitudes are fine as long as you are sincere in your intention and professional in your approach.
Neymar has neither.
Given the fact that he left Barcelona on bad terms and then created trouble in the PSG dressing room as well, it seems like he wants to be famous and rich more than he wants to be a good football player.
He does look like he wants to win things.
But he clearly doesn’t show much on the pitch if we compare him to Ronaldo and Messi.
These are just some of the reasons why we believe Real Madrid should not pay over the top for Neymar and should, in an ideal world, stay away from him unless the club wants to fulfill some commercial interests with Neymar’s signing.