Real Madrid missed the boat with Neymar and they know it. The Brazilian turned 24 today, on the same day that 2 time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo celebrates his 31st birthday. The Portuguese icon’s form, relatively speaking, has been starting to fade as he creeps further past the wrong side of 30.
There no doubt that the former Santos striker would be a fantastic fit into Ronaldo’s position. Barcelona snapped up Neymar’s signature back in 2013, forcing Madrid’s hand into signing Welsh star Gareth Bale instead.
As much as they smiled for the camera’s, Florentino Perez later admitted: “Had Neymar arrived, I’m sure we wouldn’t have signed Bale.”
After a slow start to his career in Spain, Neymar’s form has leapt to new heights. Compared with Cristiano, the two superstars are now at polar-opposite points in their career; Neymar is on the way up… Ronaldo is on his way down.
Ronaldo placed 2nd in this year’s Ballon D’or ceremony, but many questioned whether his performances merited him being shortlisted at all. Many predict that 2016 will be last year that Ronaldo features amongst the final 3.
Neymar, who placed 3rd, will no doubt be hot favourite to pick up the award in consecutive years to come.
Real Madrid have a difficult decision to make this summer. Do they continue to place their faith in the jaded Ronaldo or make the bold, big money move for Barca’s rising star?
It’s difficult to see Neymar moving to Madrid, he’s a firm fan favourite and is relishing playing within the devastating trident attack force alongside Messi and Suarez.
Brazilian icon and former Barcelona star Ronaldinho has voiced his support for Neymar to move to the Bernabeu if the opportunity arose:
“Neymar to Madrid? I want him to be happy, he’s a friend,” Ronaldinho told Cadena Ser.
“I would love him to continue at Barcelona and keep making history, but I’m not going to advise him to stay or go, he should just follow his heart.”
The fee would have to be astronomical for Barcelona to allow fierce rivals Madrid to open talks with Neymar but it’s by no means out of the question for the cash rich Los Blancos.
Big names have made the unthinkable move across Spain before. Neymar compatriot Ronaldo, who spent a season at Barca in 1996-97 later joined Real in 2002 after a spell in Italy.
Perhaps most infamously, Luis Figo controversial 2000 transfer from Barcelona to bitter rivals Real Madrid set a world record fee of £37 million. His return to the Nou Camp did not go down well:
Cristiano has been outstanding for Real since 2009 and has been revitalised under Zinedine Zidane, but could Madrid’s future rest on the shoulders of Neymar?
If Real can unshackle the Brazilian’s ties to Barcelona and get him to put on a white shirt, Florentino Perez would no longer wake up at night knowing he was the one that got away.