Neymar can resurrect career at Barca: Bebeto

Neymar should never have left Barcelona, says former Brazil striker Bebeto.
Neymar should never have left Barcelona, says former Brazil striker Bebeto.

Troubled Brazilian football star Neymar can relaunch his career at Barcelona, but he must surround himself with the right people who can advise him to make the right decisions.

That is the view of Brazil great Bebeto, who felt that his compatriot's woes began with the decision to leave Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 for a world-record fee of €222 million (S$341 million).

Neymar, 27, has been embroiled in a slew of controversies in recent months that involved raging about a referee, punching a fan, and facing rape and tax-fraud accusations.

At a media session before a charity match at the Larkin Stadium in Johor yesterday, the 1994 World Cup winner said with passion and conviction: "Neymar should never have left Barcelona. If he had not moved to PSG, maybe we can talk about Neymar in the same breath as Lionel Messi now."

After joining Barcelona from Santos in 2013, Neymar formed a telepathic partnership with Messi.

A year later, with the arrival of Luis Suarez, the trio became a fearsome MSN strike force that yielded 364 goals and delivered one Champions League, two LaLiga and three King's Cup titles in three seasons.

Bebeto, 55, said: "Football has changed a lot. Today, there is too much money involved. It's something you cannot stop. Money is probably the main reason he moved to PSG but, for me, money is not the most important in life.

"He learnt a lot from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, and he was on the way to becoming one of the greatest players, and then he decided to move to PSG.

"He would have grown much more if he had stayed at Barcelona. PSG are a big club, but Barcelona are on a different level and they have the players who can make him improve as a footballer.

"He was happy in Barcelona and, if he moves again to Barcelona, he is going to be happy again and that is going to be good for him."

Bebeto also felt that it is important for the mercurial forward to get the right advice so as not to waste his immense talent.

"People have the right to decide what they want. Sometimes, we make decisions that are not the right ones," he said.

"He needs to take more care of his personal and professional life. Even at 27, I believe he still has time to fulfil his potential."

David Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2019, with the headline 'Neymar can resurrect career at Barca: Bebeto'. Print Edition | Subscribe