Santos have produced some great players in their history who have gone on to achieve excellence, both in Brazil and in Europe. Pele is the obvious example, but the likes of Robinho, Elano and Diego have all come through the ranks at Santos. The latest players to come off the Santos conveyor belt are attacking duo Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso. Manchester City have the first option on signing the duo but the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, AC Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid have all been sniffing around the Brazilian pair recently.
Neymar is probably the most sought after player in Brazil at the moment. The 18 year old prodigy has been tipped to become a Santos legend since he was 13 and has been described as the best export from Brazil since Pato. Labelled the “next Pele” and the “new Robinho”, Neymar is a striker that can play on either wing or through the middle and is brilliant with both feet, can attack with pace and is a free kick specialist. Neymar is similar to Robinho as he is confident, likes the odd step-over and can beat his man with pure pace or trickery.
His shooting needs a bit of work but is improving all the time and his physique is a worry (he’s only 5’8’), with concerns that he is too small and fragile for the European style of play. But Neymar’s level of skill more than makes up with it and even small players can make it in Europe, as Leo Messi is an inch shorter yet still has become the best player in the world.
This season, Neymar has scored 12 goals in 17 games for Santos, including 5 goals in an 8-1 thrashing of Guarani in the Brazilian Cup last week. His performance’s this season have led to calls for Dunga to name the wonderkid in the Brazil squad for the World Cup, despite never appearing in a game for the senior side.
Paulo Henrique Ganso is another Santos player that is in high demand. Nicknamed “Ganso”, which means swan in Portuguese, the 20 year old midfielder has good vision, pace, passing and has a rocket of a left foot, which he uses to score some crucial goals from midfield for Santos. This season, Ganso has scored 11 goals in 18 games and has helped Santos to the top of the Brazilian league and ten points clear of second place Santo Andre.
Manchester City have first refusal on both of the youngsters for as long as Robinho is on loan at Santos, but it doesn’t look likely that they will be heading to Eastlands. Robinho has warned Neymar not to move to Man City, but if City secure Champions League football next season, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Brazilian changed his tune and starts declaring they are the best club in the world. Santos have also slapped a £31.5 million price tag on Neymar, which is the release fee in his contract and means only a few clubs in the world can afford to sign him. Neymar has been heavily linked to Chelsea, who need to get younger and the Brazilian could learn from the likes of Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. and develop into a world class player. If Man United find the cash from somewhere, they need an attacking midfielder and another striker so Neymar is young enough and talented enough to set Old Trafford alight.
Ganso, on the other hand, has said he will not be joining Man City, saying back in January:
“I don’t want to play for Manchester City. I’d rather play for a big European club, such as AC Milan, Real Madrid or Barcelona.”
With many teams in the market for an attacking midfielder, Ganso could be moving to England in the summer and would be cheaper than Neymar. His passing and goals from midfield would be a great asset for the top four Premiership clubs and both he and Neymar could leave Santos in the summer for the big money and bright lights of Europe.
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