Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior (born 5 February 1992 in Mogi das Cruzes, São Paulo), commonly known simply as Neymar or Neymar Jr., is a Brazilian footballer who plays as a forward for Santos and the Brazilian national football team.
Club Career Santos Neymar joined Santos in 2003 and eventually made his first-team debut six years later aged 17 on 7 March 2009 in a 2–1 win against Oeste. He made another appearance the following week against Mogi Mirim, during which he scored his first goal for Santos. On 11 April, in the 2009 Campeonato Paulista semi-final first leg against Palmeiras, Neymar scored the decisive goal in a 2–1 win at Estádio Vila Belmiro. In the final however Santos suffered a 4–2 aggregate defeat to Corinthians.
On 15 April 2010, Neymar scored six goals for Santos in an 8–1 routing of Guarani in the round of 16 of the Brazilian Cup. Following the 2010 Campeonato Paulista in which Neymar scored 14 goals in 19 games, the club were crowned champions after a 5–5 aggregate win over Santo André in the finals. Neymar was subsequently given the award for the best player in the competition.
Neymar's performances for Santos have drawn comparisons to other Brazilians, including Robinho and Pelé. In June 2010, Santos rejected a £12 million bid for him from English Premier League team West Ham United. Neymar said he did not think it was time to leave Santos, and that he was entirely focused on his current club, However, Renato Rodrigues insisted that he did not want to stay in Brazil.
On 30 November 2010, Santos sold 5 percent shares on future transfer fees received to an investment group, Terceira Estrela Investimentos S.A. (TEISA), for R$ 3,549,900 (€1.5 million). DIS Group (subsidiary of Sonda Group, a Brazil supermarket chain), investment partner of Santos in recent years, bought 40% sporting rights from Neymar's family in 2009.
Neymar scored six goals during Santos run to the 2011 Copa Libertadores Finals, tying him for third top goalscorer, including the clinching goal of Santos' 4-3 aggregate win over Cerro Porteño in the semifinals. In the two-legged final, Santos faced Uruguayan side C.A. Peñarol and drew the first leg 0-0 in Montevideo. At home in the second leg, Neymar opened the scoring in the 46th minute as Santos held on for a 2-1 win and Neymar won Man of the Match honours. The win brought Santos their first Copa Libertadores triumph since 1963, when Brazilian legend Pelé was playing for the club.
In September 2011, Santos president Luis Ribeiro threatened to report Real Madrid to FIFA following reports that they had attempted to sign Neymar to a pre-contract agreement, and denied that such an agreement was in place.
On 9 November 2011, Neymar and Santos agreed to a contract extension that would see the player stay with the club until after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The deal reportedly increased Neymar's wages by 50%, to the levels that top European clubs would be paying him.
On Wednesday 14 December 2011, Neymar scored the opening goal for Santos as they defeated Kashiwa Reysol 3-1 in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup at the Toyota Stadium in Toyota, Japan, but failed to score against Barcelona in the final (18 December 2011), where Santos were defeated 4-0, and ultimately finished second in the competition.
The 19-year-old was part of the Santos side who were well beaten by Barca in the final of the Club World Cup on Sunday, a 4-0 victory for the Catalans, and the young forward admitted that the La Liga side had handed his team a footballing lesson in that match.
The youngster was heavily linked to both Barca and their fierce rivals Real Madrid in the summer but recently signed a new contract with his current club.
"Neymar has a contract with Santos until 2014," the player's father told ONA FM.
"We believe it is in his best interests to stay, grow and mature as a footballer at Santos."
Reports in Spain this week claimed that Barca had already paid £8.4 million to the South American champions in order to guarantee the signature of the young prodigy before 2014, with AS stating that failure to sell to the Catalans would result in the Brazilians having to make a payment of £16.6m to the Spanish outfit.
However, Neymar Senior says that no such agreement is in place.
"We have just renewed his contract until 2014 - that is what has been decided," he explained.
"The only agreement that exists is between him and Santos."
He did, however, admit that a move to either Barca or Madrid would represent an attractive proposition in the future.
"They are two great teams and Neymar would be proud to sign for either of them," he revealed.
"Barcelona would be a special option but there is no agreement."
And the forward's father also admitted that it had been a privilege for his son to play against the European champions, despite ending up on the losing side in Japan on Sunday.
"Barca were clearly superior and it was a privilege for Neymar to be able to face a team that plays such wonderful football," he continued.
"Neymar must know how to win and how to lose; he saw an interview with Pep Guardiola after the final in which he said that training consists of losing in order to then go on and win.
"Neymar understood that victories are not built solely on other victories and we spoke about that after the game."
The young prodigy also greeted Barca president Sandro Rosell after the match, although there was no dialogue concerning a possible move in future, his father revealed.
"Neymar met Rosell on the pitch during the celebrations and they congratulated each other with mutual respect, but there was no more than that," he insisted.
Starting last month and continuing all through January, Goal.com will publish extracts from Graham Hunter's highly-anticipated book, 'Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World'. In this Friday's extract, he looks at Pep Guardiola's early beginnings at Barca B in the Spanish third division ahead of his meteoric rise to world domination with the first team. Don't miss it!