Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 23rd 2013 Contents A51
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SYDNEY---The A-League season will
extend into May for the first time in
2013-14 in a move designed to bring
Australia more into line with Euro-
pean competitions and to give do-
mestic players as much preparation
as possible for the World Cup.
The season has been getting
longer each year since 2009, when
the season concluded in February.
FFA chief executive David Gallop
said next season would start Octo-
ber 11 with defending champion
Central Coast Mariners against
Western Sydney Wanderers, and the
grand final would be played May 4.
He said the longer season "ac-
commodates national team require-
ments, as they prepare themselves
Australia is in the last stage of
Asian qualifying for the World Cup.
SAO PAULO---Everywhere you
look and everywhere you go, there
appears to be some sort of reference
It might be in one of the dozens
of television commercials or on bill-
boards by sponsors that make him
by far the best paid athlete in Brazil.
Or in his appearance in the popular
soap opera that puts him inside the
homes of tens of millions of peo-
ple.Neymar is more than the future
of Brazilian football. He is an idol
on the field and a celebrity off it.
And it s only a matter of time
before Europe gets a taste of the
There have been rumors of Ney-
mar moving to a top European team
since he started playing regularly for
Santos in 2009, but negotiations
involving the 21-year-old forward
have picked up steam in recent weeks
and his transfer appears imminent.
Media in Spain and Brazil say he
has already reached a deal to join
Barcelona after the Confederations
Cup in June. Santos directors have
admitted they are talking to officials
from top European clubs, including
Barcelona, and Santos coach Muricy
Ramalho acknowledged it will be
hard to keep the player in Brazil
when the transfer window opens in
"There were rumors before and
nothing happened," Ramalho said.
"But this time they really seem more
serious. The rumors have picked up
steam. When the market opens, we
know there is this possibility. It will
be a huge loss, the club will miss
Neymar could become the most
talked-about transfer prospect in
July. This week he topped the list of
most marketable athletes in the
world in a report published by
SporsPro magazine, finishing ahead
of Barcelona forward Lionel Messi
and golfer Rory McIlroy.
The list, produced in association
with Eurosport, ranks athletes from
across the world according to their
marketing potential over the next
Few dispute Neymar s potential.
Messi was quoted as saying this week
that he would be "a wonderful sign-
ing" for Barcelona.
But the Brazilian also has been
heavily criticised in Europe, where
he s known for his dives and alleged
attempts to fake injuries.
Do an Internet search for Neymar
and you ll find loads of videos of
the player s mesmerising skills and
The Brazilian won FIFA s award
for the best goal of the year in 2011
and was a finalist last year. But you
will also find lots of videos of the
player s dives and supposed
attempts to influence referees.
Pele has repeatedly said that Ney-
mar has the potential to be the best
player in the world, even better than
Messi, but he is one of the critics
who recently said Neymar should
try to stop diving so much.
Neymar is also criticised for his
disappointing performances in deci-
sive moments both with Santos and
Brazil. His recent lackluster per-
formances with the national team
attracted loud jeers from home fans.
"Nobody likes to be booed, but
I don t really care," Neymar said
recently. "I know what I can do."
He will be carrying the country s
hopes in the Confederations Cup,
but after that it will likely be the
European fans who will be able to
see the youngster in action from
Three teams are reportedly push-
ing to sign the nifty striker when
the transfer window reopens---
Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern
Munich. Santos last week reportedly
rejected a €20 million (US$26 mil-
lion) offer from Barcelona officials
who were in Brazil.
Santos is trying to sell Neymar
as quickly as possible because in
six months the player will be
allowed to sign a pre-contract with
any other club, and the Brazilian
team will not get anything in return.
Some say that has made the play-
er s value drop compared to previ-
ous years because clubs know that
Santos risks receiving nothing.
"When I extended my contract
everybody praised me for sticking
to my word and not leaving the
country," Neymar said Monday.
"Now people are saying that I m
a bad character because I m staying.
There is nothing finalised yet. We ll
There has been an ongoing
debate over whether Neymar
should stay in Brazil or take the
multimillion dollar offers from
abroad. Some say he needs to leave
as soon as possible to improve as
a player, while others argue that
he will be better off by playing
where he is happiest, near his
friends and relatives.
Former Brazil great Ronaldo,
whose sports marketing company
has Neymar under contract, has
always wanted Neymar to make the
move to Europe.
"He s only going to grow by play-
ing against the best players in the
world," Ronaldo said recently.
Others think that now is not the
best time for him to leave.
"He should have gone a few years
ago, now it s too close to the World
Cup, it s going to take time for him
to adapt in Europe," Brazil assistant
coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said.
"I m not sure he is going to play
right away," added Ramalho, recall-
ing other promising Brazilian play-
ers who made the move. "If he is
going to Real Madrid, Robinho
didn t play there, Kaka is not play-
Some fear the increased criticism
could be forcing Neymar out of the
country ahead of his original plans.
He officially rejected a €35 mil-
lion (US$45 million) from Chelsea
in 2010, and a year later Santos
said five European teams contacted
the club to try to sign the youngster,
who eventually re-signed with San-
tos until the 2014 World Cup, with
a buyout clause of €65 million
The new contract didn t give
Neymar the high salary that he
would get in Europe, but gave him
near total freedom to negotiate his
personal sponsors in Brazil. He has
now 11 main sponsors that give him
nearly US$20 million a year in earn-
ings---including Nike, Panasonic,
Red Bull, Volkswagen, Ambev, San-
tander and a local underwear com-
Neymar has led Santos to its
greatest run since Pele stopped
playing in the 1970s. He helped the
club win the 2010 Brazilian Cup,
the 2011 Copa Libertadores and
three straight Sao Paulo state
championships. He is the club s
leading scorer in the post-Pele era.
"I m still happy here and I ll keep
playing and doing my best with
Santos," Neymar said.
At least for now. (AP)
maces in pain
ed during the
l match of
3-2 on aggregate
and wins the Sao
Neymar set to become
A-League to extend season into May for 2013-14
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