Tito Vilanova’s defiance last week that there was absolutely no deal in place to bring Neymar to the Nou Camp should be widely applauded by Barcelona fans across the world.
The Brazilian striker, who participated in his nation’s Olympic Games 2012 final loss earlier this month, has been touted with a move to La Liga for over a year now, with Barca and Real Madrid the only viable destinations.
The 20-year-old looked set to join Barça when main striker, David Villa, broke his leg last winter. Thankfully, a January transfer did not materialise and Barça have saved themselves a huge amount of embarrassment.
Neymar, regardless of his talent, feels like the next Robinho rather than the new Messi. His record for club side, Santos, may be second to none – with 83 goals for the club since 2009, he is a permanent fixture of the top scorer betting – but playing for one of Spain’s giants is a different proposition.
During his spell at the Olympic Games for Brazil, the forward often flitted in and out of games and appeared more intent on stepping over the ball than pressuring the defence.
He did have his moments of brilliance – such as his whirling free-kick against Belarus at Old Trafford – but more often than not, he struck the pose of a one-trick pony than a match winner.
Very much like Robinho at Real Madrid and Manchester City, moments of brilliance flared up alongside spells of abject frustration and absence. Barcelona do not need this in their well-oiled attacking machine, which relies so much on determination, alertness, and team ethic.
This is not to say Neymar would not be a decent acquisition for the Catalan giants, but that there are players out there more capable of doing the same job for a lot less money. Indeed, David Villa himself is by far the best man for the role.
Barca are currently second favourite for the title in the La Liga betting pages on Bet365, behind long-standing rivals, Real Madrid.