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The History of the Most Expensive Football Player in the World

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    The History of the Most Expensive Football Player in the World

    Almost everyone in the world with access to the internet or a television knows who Neymar is. The Brazilian footballer has become a global icon not just for football, but for sports in general.

    Neymar has grown into prominence as one of the world’s most recognizable athletes in the tier of his fellow footballers Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and other celebrity athletes like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

    Of course, Neymar is also known by some as the most expensive football player in the world. The record-breaking transfer of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain was the most expensive transfer in history.

    But first, how did the Brazilian icon get to such financial heights? He has surely been through a storied journey to be among the highest paid athletes in the world. This is the story of Neymar.

    The Early Life of Neymar

    Neymar da Silva Santos Junior was born on February 5, 1992, at Mogi das Cruzes, Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was named after his father, who formerly played professional football and has maintained a close relationship with Neymar throughout the latter’s career, with Neymar Sr. acting as a close adviser and mentor to his son.

    Ever since his youth, Neymar was already exposed to the sport of football, playing both futsal and street football as a child.

    In 2003, Neymar and his family moved to Sao Vicente, where Neymar played for the youth team of Portuguesa Santista. Later that year, they moved to Santos, where Neymar joined Santos FC’s youth academy, where he continued his rapid development, and began earning money.

    Becoming a Professional Football Player and Rising to Prominence

    At the age of 17, Neymar signed his first full professional contract and made his debut with Santos FC. It was in Santos where Neymar developed as a professional and began his ascent into becoming one of football’s most exciting stars. In 2010, he was courted by other clubs such as Chelsea and West Ham United yet he stayed in Santos.

    In 2011, Neymar signed a contract extension with Santos, where he rose to further prominence, winning the 2011 South American Footballer of the Year award and leading Santos to win the Libertadores Cup. When Neymar was 20, Neymar cemented his status as the best player in South America, once again winning the South American Footballer of the Year award. He was also one of the finalists for the 2012 FIFA Puskas Award.

    Playing for Barcelona

    In 2013, Neymar signed a five-year deal with FC Barcelona. As he adapted to Spain, Neymar also reached greater heights with his new team.

    The prolific team reached its climax in 2015, when FC Barcelona won a treble, boasting of the star attacking trio of Neymar, Luis Suarez, and Lionel Messi. The iconic trio ended the 2014-15 season with 122 goals, at the time the most number of goals in a single season for an attacking trio in Spanish football history.

    The following campaign, the trio broke their record by finishing with 131 goals. In recognition of his excellence, Neymar was shortlisted for the 2015 FIFA Ballon d’Or, along with Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He later on finished third.

    For his final season with FC Barcelona in 2016-17, Neymar further proved to be vital to the squad, scoring at crucial moments and being part of the core which led the team to win the 2017 Copa del Rey.

    The Most Expensive Football Player in History

    In 2017, Neymar was transferred to Paris Saint-Germain in what turned out to be the most expensive transfer in the history of the sport. The historic transfer entailed a payment of a whopping 222 million euros for PSG to get Neymar.

    Neymar made his debut with PSG on August 13, 2017, in a 3-0 victory over Guingamp. Through 30 matches, Neymar scored 28 goals for PSG before having to cut the campaign short due to an injury to the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot.

    The following season once again saw Neymar get injured and PSG fell short of a deep run in the Champions League.

    In the 2019-20 season, Neymar was subjected to disciplinary action for being absent from training. He also transferred a hamstring injury in October. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the season was cut short but PSG nonetheless were awarded Ligue 1, marking Neymar’s third league title. Football returned in July 2020 and PSG won the 2020 Coupe de France final with Neymar scoring PSG’s lone goal. The team completed the domestic treble by winning the 2020 Coupe de la Ligue Final.

    Neymar missed the first game of the 2020-21 season due to testing positive for the coronavirus. Nonetheless, Neymar was able to return later on and contribute to the club. On October 2, 2020, in a 6-1 win against Angers, Neymar scored his first two goals of the season and his 72nd for the club, for which he was included in the top ten goal scorers in the history of PSG.

    What’s Next for Neymar?

    Throughout his career, Neymar has been a polarizing figure in football. He is indeed one of football’s most recognizable players and his historic transfer to PSG will definitely be one of the most recognized and talked about events in football’s recent history.

    Neymar has managed to amass a fortune for himself, currently holding an approximate net worth of 200 million dollars from his lucrative playing contracts and various endorsements which have put him in the international limelight.

    The 28-year-old still has a lot of fuel left in him. His football career is far from over and he still has multiple years left to prove that he is worth the whopping 222 million euros for his transfer to PSG, and that he belongs among the sport’s greats. Who knows, maybe Neymar breaks his own record in the future? Only time will tell. The only thing that’s sure is that the most expensive football player in history still has plenty of time to put himself once more in the record books.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2020