Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, known simply as Neymar Jr or Neymar, is one of the most iconic and talented soccer players of his generation. The Brazilian forward has dazzled fans with his quick feet, creative dribbling skills and scoring prowess ever since bursting onto the scene as a teenager.
In his still young but already storied career, Neymar has won multiple league titles and domestic cups, along with a Champions League title and Olympic gold medal. He’s excelled for both club and country, starring for Santos, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain at the club level and serving as the offensive catalyst for Brazil.
This in-depth review will analyze Neymar’s background, early career, rise to stardom, successes and honors won for club and country, playing style, injuries and controversies, marketability, and legacy.
Background and Early Life
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior was born on February 5, 1992 in Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil. He grew up in a simple household with his sister and parents, who separated when he was still a young boy.
From a very early age, Neymar showed a passion and clear talent for soccer. His father, a former professional player himself, encouraged his son’s dreams of becoming a star. Neymar played futsal and street soccer growing up, developing the dribbling skills that he would later become known for.
At just 7 years old, Neymar joined the youth system of Portuguesa Santista, staying with the club until 2003 when he moved to Santos FC. He continued progressing through the Santos youth teams, winning a number of regional competitions along the way.
Rise to Stardom at Santos
Neymar made his professional debut for Santos FC on March 7, 2009 at just 17 years old. He immediately showed flashes of brilliance, scoring his first professional goal just a week later.
The 2010 season marked Neymar’s breakout year. Still just 18, he scored 42 goals in all competitions, helping lead Santos to the Brazilian Cup. For his performances, Neymar earned the Golden Ball as the best player in South America.
Over the next three seasons, Neymar cemented himself as Santos’ biggest star and one of the most exciting players in Brazil. Some highlights:
- 2011: Scored 31 goals, won Campeonato Paulista MVP
- 2012: Named South American Footballer of the Year; scored his 100th Santos goal at just 20 years old
- 2013: Led Santos to the Recopa Sudamericana title
In all, he scored 136 goals in 225 total matches during his four seasons with Santos’ first team. His combination of flair, trickery, finishing and speed made him a fan favorite in Brazil and attracted attention from top clubs worldwide.
Transfer to Barcelona
After months of speculation, Spanish club FC Barcelona signed Neymar in May 2013 for a transfer fee of €57.1 million. The 21-year-old joined a star-studded attack alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez.
Success with MSN
Forming part of the prolific attacking trio nicknamed “MSN”, Neymar excelled during his four seasons at Barcelona.
- Won 2 La Liga titles, 3 Copa del Rey titles, 1 Champions League title
- Formed incredible partnership with Messi and Suarez
- Scored 68 goals in 123 La Liga matches
- Scored 21 goals in 40 games in the club’s 2014-15 treble winning season
While he was sometimes overshadowed by Messi, Neymar proved during his time at Barcelona that he belonged among the elite attackers in the world.
World Record Transfer to PSG
After paying his buyout clause of €222 million, Paris Saint-Germain secured Neymar’s services in the summer of 2017. The fee remains the highest transfer price ever paid for a soccer player.
Ligue 1 Stardom
Despite injuries limiting his availability, Neymar has starred when on the pitch for PSG. Through 2022, he has:
- Scored 100 goals in 144 appearances across all competitions
- Won 4 Ligue 1 titles
- Won 3 Coupe de France trophies
- Helped lead PSG to first Champions League final in 2020
His combination of speed, flashy skill, and scoring ability have made him a fan favorite in Paris and one of the most prominent soccer starts in the world.
International Career with Brazil
In addition to his prolific club career, Neymar has also shined for the Brazil national team, serving as the team’s talisman for over a decade.
2010 World Cup
A 18-year-old Neymar was a surprise selection for Brazil’s 2010 World Cup squad. While he made just two substitute appearances, the experience helped boost his profile.
At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, a 20-year-old Neymar led Brazil to the gold medal. He scored in the final and finished with 3 goals and 4 assists overall.
2014 World Cup Disappointment
Headed into the 2014 World Cup on home soil, Brazil carried high hopes with Neymar as the team’s star. After scoring 4 goals through the quarter-finals, Neymar suffered a back injury against Colombia and missed the disastrous 7-1 semi-final loss against Germany.
Copa America Glory
After years of disappointment, Neymar finally lifted his first major international trophy at the 2021 Copa America. He scored 2 goals in the final against Peru and earned Player of the Tournament honors as Brazil won the title.
With 74 goals in 121 caps, Neymar ranks third all-time for Brazil in goals scored behind only Pele and Ronaldo. And at just 30 years old, he still has time to chase those scoring records for his country.
A talented and creative dribbler capable of tricking defenders, Neymar possesses excellent technique with both feet. His small stature and low center of gravity allow him to maneuver in tight spaces and attack defenders directly.
While he can play anywhere across the front line, Neymar has spent most of his career playing left wing and given freedom to roam across the attacking third. From wider areas, he excels at cutting inside and creating chances or combining with teammates before arriving late in the box to finish attacks.
In addition to his dribbling and passing skills, Neymar is also a prolific scorer and capable free kick taker. He has a knack for delivering in big moments and embracing the spotlight.
Injuries and Controversy
While undeniably one of the most talented players of his generation, Neymar’s career has also been marked by injuries, leaks of off-field antics, and accusations of diving and exaggerating fouls.
The biggest hindrance to Neymar’s career has been his struggles with injuries, especially to his right foot. He’s missed major tournaments and large stretches of league seasons throughout his career.
Tax Fraud Allegations
In 2016, Brazilian authorities charged Neymar and his family with tax evasion and falsifying documents related to his transfer to Barcelona. While the tax fraud charges were dropped in 2019, Neymar still faces a trial in Spain over bonus payments related to the transfer.
Diving and Theatrics
Throughout his career, Neymar has developed a reputation for exaggerating challenges and allegedly diving to deceive referees. These theatrics have sometimes overshadowed appreciation of his talents.
Marketability & Wealth
With his flashy playing style and huge social media following, Neymar has become one of the most marketable athletes worldwide.
- Has over 200 million total followers across social platforms
- Has endorsement deals with brands like Nike, Red Bull, Beats, Gillette, Mastercard and more
- Ranks among the highest-paid soccer players in the world, earning $95 million in 2022
According to Forbes, Neymar has earned over $350 million in his career from salary, bonuses and endorsements. Hismarketability and off-field income match his prominence as one of the most famous soccer stars of recent times.
Legacy & Overall Career Assessment
While his career has been marked by injuries and controversies, Neymar deserves to be remembered as one of the most talented, iconic and accomplished players of his generation based on his performances and honors with both club and country.
Some career highlights so far:
- 5 league titles between Spain and France
- Champions League winner
- Olympic gold medalist
- 74 international goals for Brazil
- Over 400 total goals scored for club and country
And at 30 years old, Neymar still has time to add to his legacy, whether by winning another Champions League or leading Brazil to World Cup glory. While the theatrics can be frustrating, his combination of flair and productivity on the pitch is undeniable.
Overall, Neymar has consistently performed at an elite level for both club and country when healthy. His career honours and individual recognitions cement his status as one of the defining talents of modern soccer.
Frequently Asked Questions About Neymar Jr’s Career
Neymar Jr’s exciting yet sometimes controversial career often raises many questions among soccer fans. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Brazilian superstar.
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What is Neymar’s playing style?
Neymar is most dangerous playing left wing, where he excels at dribbling 1v1, combining with teammates, and cutting inside to shoot or create chances. His excellent technique, flair, acceleration, and scoring ability make him a nightmare matchup.
What are Neymar’s biggest career accomplishments?
He’s won numerous domestic trophies with Barcelona, PSG and Santos. Major highlights include a Champions League title in 2015, Olympic gold in 2016, and the Copa America title with Brazil in 2021.
How much is Neymar worth?
Neymar is one of the richest athletes in the world thanks to his salary and endorsements. His net worth is estimated to be around $200 million. In 2022 alone he earned $95 million.
Why does Neymar have a reputation as a diver?
Throughout his career, Neymar has been accused of exaggerating fouls and diving. His reputation for theatrics and trying to deceive referees has led many to characterize him as a diver.
What are Neymar’s injury problems?
He’s missed significant time in his career with foot injuries, metatarsal fractures, back issues, and ankle sprains among other knocks. His reckless style and explosiveness make him prone to injuries.
Is Neymar’s PSG transfer the most expensive ever?
Yes, when PSG paid Barcelona €222 million to trigger his release clause in 2017, it smashed the previous record fee paid for a player. The amount has still not been surpassed.
What is Neymar’s legacy?
One of the most talented and productive players of his generation and arguably one of Brazil’s greatest ever players. His combination of individual and team honors cement his legacy, despite the injuries and controversies.
Neymar’s rare mix of flair, creativity, finishing ability and blazing speed have made him one of the most dangerous and entertaining soccer players of recent times. While he can be frustrating with his theatrics and has missed significant time due to injuries, his accomplishments and honours speak for themselves.
Still just 30 years old, Neymar has time to further embellish his legacy for both club and country. But based on his performance and honours so far with Santos, Barcelona, PSG and Brazil, Neymar deserves to be remembered as a transformative player who delivered memorably audacious moments and dazzled fans worldwide.