by ‘Ifreke Inyang
The Neymar circus didn’t last long. Last weekend, the Brazilian forward announced on his Instagram page that he had picked Barcelona over Real Madrid. Santos had confirmed before then, that they had agreed a fee – believed to be around €28million – with two clubs and it was down to him to pick his next club.
It must have been a crushing blow to Madrid. They are rumoured to have bid three times more than their La Liga rivals, but evidently, the lure of lining up along with Lionel Messi proved bigger. It’s time to turn to Plan B. Gareth Bale.
You have to wonder why he was not first choice all the while. Bale’s agent, Jonathan Barnett told Spanish TV show Futboleros: “If someone like Mr Perez was interested in Bale it would be a great honour. And we would listen.
“We’re not speaking to anybody… Bale is better than Neymar. He’s proved himself better than Neymar. He’s proved himself in the best league in the world.
“I would hope that any club who wants him, wants him not because they lost Neymar. I would think he’d have to be their first choice.
“Listen, it’s crazy, but whatever Neymar cost, Gareth Bale is worth more.”
He did not need to paint his client in bright colours. Any football observer, who has watched both players, would readily agree. Last season, the Welsh winger has grown in leaps and bounds and I will readily stick my neck out to say he is streets ahead of Neymar. His physique and tremendous shooting range gives him the edge.
Don’t get me wrong. Neymar is a supremely gifted player. But like those in the anti-Messi camp would chorus, would he breeze past Dean Whitehead on a cold night at the Britannia? I doubt. Cristiano Ronaldo sprinted past defenders for fun during his time in the EPL and since he moved to La Liga, it has practically been a walk in the park for him.
This is not Flamengo or Fluminense. This is Europe. The big league. When the spotlight is on you, the onlookers are expectant and unforgiving. It won’t be easy for Neymar to play supporting cast to Messi and still garner plaudits, if Madrid get Bale, he will be causing mayhem on the opposite flank to his idol, Ronaldo.