Why he’s on our list
Do you remember what Sachin Tendulkar meant to Indian cricket in the 1990s? When we pinned all our hopes in one man and treated everything he did as a matter of national importance. That’s pretty much what Neymar means to Brazil right now. At the 2013 Confederations Cup, he handled the pressure just fine, winning the Golden Ball award for the best player in the tournament while guiding Brazil to a famous win. He hasn’t scored as many goals as he would have liked since his big-money move to Barcelona, but that will not stop millions of Brazilian fans from expecting him to single-handedly win them the
What to watch for
His skinny legs, which tend to fly in all directions when he’s dribbling, giving you the impression that he’s sometimes confusing defenders by confusing
What could happen in Brazil
He could win the World Cup, be declared a national treasure and go down in history as the man who helped Brazil become a global superpower.
What could (also) happen in Brazil
As a few cynical defenders may have noticed, Neymar is rather slightly built. Barcelona have been trying to get him to go to the gym as much as possible, but there may still be a weakness there to exploit and teams may employ a strategy once employed against Pelé: to kick him out of the game. By the end of the World cup, Neymar could cut a frustrated figure, and he could end up with a career of unfulfilled promise and a future playing in the Vietnamese football league alongside Denílson and Robinho.