18-year-old starlet Neymar looks to have chosen Santos, and his native Brazil, over a potential move to London and Chelsea. In their attempts to convince Neymar to stay, Santos brought out the big guns: Pele, Mario Zagallo, new Brazil coach Mano Menezes and Robinho. One can see the advantage to speaking to your national coach if you have aspirations of forcing your way into the national team, and the advice of Pele and Zagallo, who have done everything in the game, makes sense, but Neymar might want to think twice about listening to Robinho.
When Robinho himself was 21, and in a similar situation to Neymar is now, he made his exit from Santos to join Real Madrid. During his spell with the club, Robinho had a mixture of success depending on whoever was in charge during his time there. Roman Calderon had signed the player, but Robinho struggled under his successors Fabio Capello and Bernd Schuster. He had decent spells but never made himself indispensible at the club. Being used as part of the deal to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to Real was enough for Robinho to start seeking a move elsewhere and Chelsea, then managed by his former boss at Brazil Lius Felipe Scolari, was his preferred choice. To get the move going he orchestrated his own press conference rather than play for the team in their first league fixture against Deportivo La Coruna. Unfortunately for Robinho, Chelsea never met Real’s asking price and he went to Man City instead. After a bright start, things then turned sour and his Man City career is now all but over for all to see.
During his career, Robinho seems to have been driven by money and profile. Whether Neymar’s decision to come to Chelsea is the right or wrong thing to do has absolutely nothing to do with Robinho. Had Robinho joined Chelsea, rather than Man City, then he would have a valid opinion to offer Neymar. Robinho also had the potential to carve out a decent career at Man City: his form at the beginning of his time at the club was exciting and he was a favourite amongst the fans almost immediately. All the foundations were in place for him to build a successful Man City career, but his own form and attitude were the problem, and what eventually caused his time at the club to dwindle.
Neymar has been advised by Menezes, that he is both too young and too small to succeed in the Premier League should he move there now. There is logic in the argument and it sounds like it could be good advice; the move from Brazil to such a high-profile club, for such a vast sum of money (Neymar’s buy-out clause is just shy of £30m) would heap a great deal of pressure on the shoulders of the young forward. There should be no rush in him leaving Brazil where things are going well for him and he still has plenty of time to make his inevitable move to Europe. Robinho, who cannot resolve the issues in his own stuttering career, is in no position to advise others on what to do in theirs – stones and greenhouses anyone?
It is difficult to imagine any of Robinho’s previous employers speaking positively about his attitude and commitment to the clubs he has played for. Neymar has a potentially bright career ahead of him and he would be wise to avoid following the example, or heeding to the advice, of one of the game’s great mercenaries.
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