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Monday, 21 August 2017

Neymar's breakout year: How the world's most expensive player went from 'butterfly fillet' to Santos star in 2010

Had you asked a hundred Santos fans to identify the club’s brightest star at the start of 2010, you would not have received anything close to a unanimous response.

A good chunk of the vote would likely have gone to Paulo Henrique Ganso, the elegant playmaker with a topographer’s mastery of space. Robinho, back at the Vila Belmiro on loan from Manchester City, would also have been a popular choice. A few contrary types might even have chosen Arouca or Wesley, the side’s midfield dynamos, or arch goalhanger André.


Plenty, of course, would have plumped for Neymar, the wisp of a forward who had emerged from the hinterland of boy-wonderdom in 2009, scoring on his first start and generally looking far more assured than a 17-year-old should. Yet as one decade dissolved into the next, there was no consensus that he – rather than Ganso, say – would be the club’s next big thing.

Twelve months later, though? Well, there wouldn’t be much of an argument then.

I've written a long piece on Neymar's breakout year for FourFourTwo's Year Zero series. Have a read here.

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