Searching for the “Next Neymar”

Before we begin, allow me to take you back a few years to 2013. Neymar was the subject of two transfer offers, one from Real Madrid and one from FC Barcelona. It was expected that Neymar would join Real Madrid, given the footwork put in by the club in the years prior to get him accustomed to the Madrid way. Playing for Santos, Neymar was considered the world’s best prospect, and by extension soccer’s hottest commodity. However, he surprised everyone by signing for FC Barcelona, who were later accused and convicted of early payments to secure the transfer, as well as tax fraud, for which a number of Barça officials were fired.

Fast-forward to now, and the loss of Neymar still leaves a bad taste in the mouth of Real Madrid. However, the club has decided to refocus. Understand that Neymar, while amazing, is not the only great Brazilian player around. Brazil has a culture built around soccer. Sometimes, it’s said that babies are born holding a soccer ball. So, instead of sulking, Real Madrid decided to make sure that they’d acquire the “next Neymar.” In doing so, they may have actually found the three best prospects that Brazilian football has: Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo Goes and Reinier Jesus.

I’m writing this following the news that Real Madrid has officially signed Reinier, one day after his 18th birthday, thanks to a FIFA rule forbidding clubs from negotiating with out-of-continent players before they come of age. Reinier, an attacking midfielder, comes from Flamengo, the reigning Copa Libertadores champions. Acquiring Reinier was probably helped by the good relationship Madrid has with Flamengo following the acquisition of Vinicius Junior, a winger. These two former Flamengo players will likely be part of the next decade of Real Madrid.

However, there was always an overarching feeling that Santos cheated Real Madrid. However, they can be forgiven since it was actually Barcelona’s fault, not theirs. So, this past summer, Real Madrid acquired Rodrygo Goes, seen as a direct successor to Neymar at Santos. Based on early returns, including a perfect hat-trick in the Champions League against Turkish giants Galatasaray, Rodrygo’s future could be as bright as Neymar’s, though it’s obviously too soon to guarantee such a thing.

The great thing about this is that the trio of Reinier, Rodrygo and Vinicius will all play together this summer for Brazil at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which will give Real Madrid fans a preview of what they can look forward to. Needless to say, I’m excited. Are you?

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