The football news of the week–of the summer, actually– is that French giant Paris Saint Germain purchased Neymar for the equivalent of 258,000,000 US dollars. It more than doubled up the previous world record transfer, which belonged to Paul Pogba of Manchester United.
Even for all that money, and all that hype, Neymar had been in the shadow in the shadow of the iconic Lionel Messi in Barcelona since he got there in 2013, and was still very much in that same shadow in 2017. In the league, Messi bagged 37 goals, compared to Neymar’s 13, and was much less wasteful on the ball. That got us thinking… If Messi’s shadow is worth over $200 million, how much would Messi be worth?
The answer is simple:
But while Messi is, and always has been, “priceless”, if we were to place a monetary value on him when he was 25, we’d have to compare him to 25-year old Neymar.
A 25-year old Messi puts us at the end of 2011-2012 season, where he put together the greatest goalscoring campaign the sport has ever seen. He netted a record 73 goals in the 2011-12′ season. For comparison, Neymar scored a total of 18 goals last season.
For the calender year of 2012, Messi bagged 91 goals, shattering the 40-year old record held by Gerd Muller of Bayern Munich.
Neymar, on the other hand, seems to have found his ideal role as a #7/#10 hybrid, meaning that he’ll often play as a traditional winger, but just as often roam to the center of the pitch and try to create. This means that he’s able to create for teammates, but it also means that he’ll never touch Lionel Messi’s goal tallies.
While we’re on the subject, we may as well discuss playmaking.
Neymar’s first two season in the Catalan capital saw his as a limited playmaker (especially in his second season). He often found himself on the end of tap-ins after an intricate build-up that he wasn’t at all involved in. That seemed to change over the past season or two, however, and Neymar has begun to create.
That’s not without its downsides, however. The fact that he’s on the ball more often means that he’s also giving the ball away often. In Barcelona’s 0-0 draw against Juventus at the Nou Camp–the match which saw them out of the Champions League– Neymar gave the ball away 46 times. 46 times! That means that every two minutes, the Brazilian lost the ball.
A part of Messi’s playmaking that makes it so dynamic is that he very rarely gives the ball away. The only times you’ll really see a Leo giveaway is when he tries to bend in a 50+ yard pass to a running fullback. Messi is one of the three greatest playmakers of all-time. Neymar is just coming into his own as a playmaker. Next.
One of the most improved aspects of Neymar’s game is his dribbling. This past season, he even out-dribbled Messi, on a 61% success rate in the league, and a 50% success rate in the Champions League. Those numbers can be deceiving, however.
Neymar is known to complete many of his dribbles in the defensive half, where he’s taking on wingers and center forwards, most of which aren’t pressing with the intensity of the defense, and a simple pass to a midfielder would probably be more effective in advancing the ball. When Messi dribbles, he saves it for the attacking third, where he’s taking on multiple defenders at a time. Even still, a 25-year old Messi completed more dribbles, and at a better success rate than Neymar.
Messi is the best dribbler the world has ever seen. Neymar is not. NEXT.
I’m not a fan of accolades when judging players, but it certainly can add or subject value in the eyes of a club. 25-year old Messi had rattled off 4 consecutive Ballon D’Ors, and 3 Champions League medals by 25, and was the MOTM in two of those CL Finals. Neymar’s still to win a Ballon D’Or, and only won a Champions League on the greatest season of all-time from Lionel Messi.
If Messi’s shadow is worth $258 million, then a 25-year old Messi would be worth $800 million in today’s market.