The other reason Neymar is the most wanted player in Europe

A long-time target of Chelsea, does the appeal of Neymar stretch far beyond what he can do with a football?

Neymar is going to Chelsea…Barcelona…Real Madrid…Bayern Munich…

Perhaps tomorrow another club will join that list, but there are two very big reasons why his collection of suitors is growing almost as quickly as his bank balance.

The first is talent, of which the Brazilian has plenty. But the second may be even more important.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be, but in a game that is now a global business, a player’s ability to make money is more appealing than ever.

And the 21-year-old Santos forward can make you a lot of money.

In SportsPro magazine’s annual list of the top 50 most marketable athletes in the world, Neymar was top.

Should he ultimately sign for Barcelona he will be playing alongside the man second on that list – Lionel Messi.

If that isn’t reason enough for the La Liga champions to sign him – to employ the two most marketable sportsmen in the world – I’m missing the point.

And that point seems to be spending money to make money.

SportsPro’s editor-in-chief David Cushnan explained Neymar’s position as number one.

Essentially the crux of it is we are trying to predict the marketing value over the next three years. We’re trying to forecast who is going to be worth investing from a sponsorship point of view, but also who perhaps offers real value for money.”

Neymar’s age, sponsorship potential and the fact that his first huge transfer is ahead of him, placed him higher than the likes of Usain Bolt and Lewis Hamilton.

But perhaps most tellingly, Cushnan said, “There is no doubt that Messi is the more talented player, but you can make the argument he is not particularly charismatic off the pitch, not animated or confident in front of the camera.”

This list is about more than just innate talent; in its most basic form it is about show business.

However much the Brazilian costs in transfer fees, his club will soon make that back in revenue. So it appears that sometimes a club isn’t simply buying a player, they are buying a brand, a face of both a country and a sport.

It stopped being just about kicking a ball a long time ago.

image: © simonw92

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