When I first heard about the Neymar transfer news, I instantly dismissed it as baseless and unfounded rumour. Three weeks later, it became a reality. I was disgusted with the ridiculous amount of money involved in the transfer and its dangerous repercussions on the beautiful game of football and society at large.
Paris Saint Germain had broken the golden rule – Thou Shalt not covet thy Neigbour’s wife. You are allow to admire her beauty, but to lust after her, lead her to file for divorce and parade her as your lawfully wedded wife is despicable and distort the holy Order of football.
What’s more annoying is PSG and Neymar’s attempt to downplay the transfer by claiming he didn’t join PSG for more money (I assume he did join PSG so he could be closer to God). PSG president claimed other clubs (“in heaven”) offered Neymar more money but he chose PSG.
However, we have passed that stage and there is no reason crying over spilled milk (although Barca directors are acting otherwise by suing Neymar for 10Million Euros). Early worries about him making a big career gamble that may affect him and his national team adversely has subsided after he scored 3 goals and assisted 3 in 270mins. Suddenly, a deal that was unfathomable 3-weeks ago seem like a bargain. With just 3 games into the season, he’s already worth more than the 222million euros PSG paid.
So, what has Barcelona done with Neymar’s money?
First, they signed a 29-year old Paulinho for 40million euros – this could be likened to a morbidly obese chicken attempt to slim down by eating 40million euros worth of cookies. Sure it could solve a short time need for a combative midfielder, but with an aging squad, that’s not what Barca need.
If that’s not the epitome of ridiculousness, I don’t know what is. It goes to show that the directors of Barcelona football club have become complacent and lack the vision to drive the club forward.
Next, they bring in a gem in Ousmane Dembele who has played only 4749 mins of professional football for 105million euros which could rise to 147million euros with add-ons. This means they paid 30,955 euros per minute of experience – an insane amount of money for a 20-year old with only 2 years of professional football.
Moving forward, there is no argument Dembele is a very talented kid, his style of play is also similar to Neymar’s style of play. He likes to dribble, cuts inside, uses both feet well, does not dive into tackles and could also be a threat in the middle of the park.
He looks like he has the potential and Barcelona has placed a huge bet on him replacing Neymar. However, nothing is set on stone. He will either succeed in the boots of Neymar or flatter to deceive like Marc Overmars did when he was signed to replace Luis Figo.
So, let’s take a look at 5 indicators that can help determine if this will turn out to be another Javier Saviola signing or a masterpiece.
#1. He Hasn’t Reached the 10,000 Hours Milestone
One of the reasons why the 10,000-hour theory has become so popular is that it gives rise to the notion that anyone can become world class if they put the graft in. The theory suggests that practicing any skill for 10,000 hours is sufficient to make you an expert.
However, many people would argue that true football talent does not spurn from hours and hours of practice. Instead it’s 90% innate, you practice to refine it. They will point to players like Messi, Maradona, and Pele who were already performing miracles and “casting out demons” on the pitch at a very young age. But they would not have blossomed to reach the heights of great men, rather than becoming another Quaresma, if they did not put in the hours of hard work. Didn’t they become better versions of themselves as they racked up more experiences on the pitch.
Suffice to say a player with less than 10,000 minutes of professional football is not worth the 147million euros that Barca paid. Barca is counting on him being the next Neymar, will he become world class as he gets more experience on and off the pitch? That’s a question for tomorrow.
#2: The Uncertainty that comes with Injury
Let me guess, you thought of Jack Wilshere – how it came to be that the man who’s spent the best part of a decade earmarked as England’s long-awaited heir to Paul Gascoigne has seen his status plummet this far. He couldn’t even get a starting shirt at Bournemouth.
How his career plummeted due to injury upon injury, though, or how his performance slowly declined? Because the oddest thing about Wilshere’s travails is how it’s all, simultaneously, seemed incredibly gradual and very, very sudden.
That’s the uncertainty with the human anatomy. Different people have different recovery rate. To one player, there is no dent on their performance, to another, he becomes a shadow of his old self.
#3: Curse of the Wonderkid
In football, a waste of a wonderkids potential can be assigned to three categories:
First, There are those who are injury prone like Michael Owen, Alan Smith or Harry Kewell.
Next are those who show bad behaviour outside of football, which affects there brilliance, like Lee Sharpe, Gazza and Michael Johnson.
Finally, last category correlates with showing bad attitude, like Ravel Morrison or Mario Balotelli.
Does Dembele fall into any of these category? Although his attitude of refusing to train with is team mates as Barca came calling could be overlooked, but it could also be the beginning of a wave of bad behaviour at Barcelona.
#4: Reality Meets Unpredictability
For now, there is no fear of an inherent unpredictability that underlies all sport: that great potential doesn’t always translate to elite-level achievement, at least not straightforwardly and not without hurdles : a flip-side to instances like Lionel Messi and Neymar, where a player who’s been marked out as an extravagantly gifted superstar by all can establish himself as exactly that.
Everyone at Barcelona expects him to flourish, but caution should be taken. Too much of expectation place on the shoulders of a 20-years old could backfire. He could end up being an “OK” player never reaching those expectations – Robinho is a valid example. If Robinho’s career has demonstrated anything so far, it’s the futility of prediction and expectation – something to bear in mind for anyone sounding the praise bells on the 20-year-old’s career just yet.
#5: Will Barcelona be Patient Enough to See Him Flourish
I am absolutely baffled at how quickly Elite Football Clubs cast aside underperforming players who are yet to settle. And for Barcelona, they have a track record of doing that comfortably. Alexander Hleb, Ibrahimovic, and Ardan Turan comes to mind of players with plenty of expectation but given little time to meet those expectations before being tossed aside.
So, if Dembele does not hit the ground running, will he be afforded enough time to settle with his new teammates and to a whole new footballing philosophy.
talent is not the only indicator: “There are many factors not mentioned above, but ultimately, Barcelona need to be patient with him. That’s where the big gain is. Could he blossom to become the next Neymar Jr or even supass him? or will he be another Jack Wilshere in the making.
Only time will tell.
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