Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughWill featherweight Neymar cut it in Europe? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Will featherweight Neymar cut it in Europe? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Will featherweight Neymar cut it in Europe?

If it’s not like watching a graceful ballet, it’s like reading a deft peom. Watching Neymar glide past opponents, making sturdy pros look like fumbling bad guys in a slapstick scene, is art in motion.

Yes, dictionaries of all languages and versions have been exhausted in decorating the plucky 21-year-old with superlatives he has rightly earned. He has smacked home sizzling drives with both feet, averaging a goal a game so far in the Confederations Cup. He presented football’s forgotten man Jo with the simplest of goals after leaving two Mexicans stumbling in his wake following a blitz of shimmies and a burst of pace. And by milking the limelight as unabashedly as he has, he has, you will agree, livened up the occasion.

I must admit, his geeing up of the Castelão crowd at first didn’t sit well with me. ‘Score a goal first,” I said under my breath. But score a goal he did, a few minutes later as if stung by my jibe.

Neymar has had his share of critics and doubters, and even after his scintillating Seleção displays in the World Cup curtain raiser there are pockets of hard-liners who are still not convinced. While some of the criticisms they level at the precocious Barcelona-bound star are just plain malicious, others sound valid. One of them is the tendency to go to ground as soon as even the idea of contact is brought up. Many a time the wearer of the legendary number 10 jersey has dramatically flung himself to the turf even after being cleanly robbed of the ball. To his credit, he does not plague the referee with appeals for non-existent fouls. Whenever he perceives his Hollywood antiques have failed to draw a response, he gets up and gets on with it.

But perhaps Neymar’s affinity for flying to the carpet is a result of his meagre 64kgs of weight. Indeed, his new employers are said to be keen to address this ‘problem’. A few days ago it was reported that Ricard Pruna, a Barcelona doctor, said the former Santos striker needs to put on a kilo or two, as well as arrest a propensity to lose weight ahead of the new season. These were the findings of the routine medical prenuptials before player and club formalise their new marriage. Looking at the Brazilian’s spare frame, it’s hard to argue with the doc.

You can’t imagine him being matched up against uncompromising defenders of Sergio Ramos’ calibre week in week out without eventually snapping a metatarsal or tibia or worse. Could this lack of that extra ‘pound or two’ be what caused another Brazilian, Robinho’s European sojourn to be less memorable than it should have been? Few players can even presently match the Ex-Man City striker’s skill on the ball. But he never lived up to the Pele comparisons that were made at the beginning of his professional career.

Now if they fear he’s too frail for Spain, will the fleet-footed Neymar ever grace the far more brutal Barclays Premier League where square-jawed, barrel-chested giants like Robert Huth and Titus Bramble eat lightweight forwards for breakfast? He’d better hope the Potters never qualify for the Champions League.