|David de Gea|
|David de Gea|
Tuesdays aren’t normally days for surprises but here you go; Brazilian wonderkid Neymar could be on his way to… Anzhi Makhachkala, a Russian Premier League side that’s merely 20 years old.
Santos forward Neymar has been the talk of the football town for some while now with some even saying he could be the man to rival the irrepressible Lionel Messi for the King of Football crown. Neymar’s star has grown even larger thanks to his wonderful displays both for Santos and Brazil and some Playstation-like YouTube clips.
And after inspiring Santos to the Copa Libertadores Neymar is the player everyone wants in their team, everyone including Anzhi Makhachkala.
It has emerged that Anzhi is one of five clubs that have met the €45 million release clause in Neymar’s contract. The others are Real Madrid, European champions Barcelona, Chelsea and big-spenders Manchester City.
According Santos president Luis Alvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro although Santos don’t want to sell their prized asset talks with the five suitors would begin immediately.
“We don’t want to sell Neymar, but obviously there is a contractual clause the clubs can pay,” Riberio told ESPN Brasil. “Five European clubs have offered to meet this clause. I can’t say which ones because that’s an agreement between Santos and the clubs, but they’re the most important European ones. They asked to speak to the player and we’ve obviously given them permission.”
So who is Anzhi?
Well, they play in the Russian Premier League and are coached by Gadzhi Gadzhiev. In January this year the club was bought by Russian billionaire Suleyman Kerimov which is why Anzhi can afford to fork out €45 million with no problem.
The team is also captained by the legendary Roberto Carlos and is also home to another Brazil talent, Diego Tardelli, so in that sense Anzhi may have a chance to lure Neymar. The club itself was founded in 1991 and has played in the Russian football league since 1992.
Anzhi were relegated from the Russia Premier League in 2002 and stayed in the second tier until they won the First Division in 2009. The club finished 11th in their first season back last year and this year Anzhi are fifth in the Russian Premier League, seven points behind leaders CSKA Moscow, at the halfway stage.
In 2001 Anzhi reached the Russian Cup final but lost to Lokomotiv Moscow on penalties. Reaching the final was enough though to qualify Anzhi for the 2001/02 Uefa Cup but the Russian side fell at the first hurdle 1-0 to Glasgow Rangers. Anzhi also occasionally wear yellow, so perhaps Neymar would also feel somewhat at home with Anzhi.
The favourites for Neymar’s signature though are Real Madrid both because Madrid probably need Neymar’s star-power and charm and because La Liga would best suit the 19 year-old’s style. However it’s difficult to see where he would actually fit in tactically for Madrid.
In fact Barcelona would possibly be a better fit for Neymar because of their free-flowing and almost Samba football. Neymar also fits the Barcelona bill – young and exciting – and he could play as one of Barca’s front three rotating and creating havoc alongside Messi, Pedro and David Villa. But then maybe that rivalry business with Messi wouldn’t really work out.
Chelsea and Manchester City are still the outsiders because of their generally robotic and rigid style of football and of course the English weather.
Although Santos president Ribeiro praised Chelsea for showing more respect this year saying “Chelsea’s attitude was different”, it’s still highly unlikely Neymar will move to Stamford Bridge.
|Man United's newest weapon|
2003/04 - 2006/07
2006/07 - 2010/11