Is Brazilian prodigy Neymar worth £40m or is he an indulgence?

Chelsea may believe teen is the next Messi but wonderkids can lose their way. By Mark Fleming

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Roman Abramovich is no stranger to parting with the odd fat cheque (think Andrei Shevchenko, £32m or Fernando Torres, £50m). Neither – thus far, in Torres' case – are rip-roaring success stories, with the former scoring nine league goals and the Spaniard one in 18 for Chelsea, but despite having his fingers singed the club's owner Abramovich is preparing to spend big again this summer, now that his new manager Andre Villas-Boas has safely been tempted from Porto. Attacking football is the new mantra, and it does not come cheap.

Chelsea have already bid £22m for Tottenham's Luka Modric, while they are also hoping to tie up deals for striker Radamel Falcao, whose buyout clause is €30m (£26.7m), and midfielder Joao Moutinho whose price is set by Porto at €40m (£36m). Then there is the pursuit of Neymar, the Brazilian teenager whose value exceeds them all after Santos put the sum of €45m (£40m) as the price of buying him out of his contract.

Are Chelsea sure he is worth the cash? Or would his signing be more of a statement of intent from Abramovich? Since Brazil's failed attempt to win the World Cup, Neymar has become the new superstar of the team. Chelsea face stiff competition from Real Madrid for his signature. Even though he is convincing doubters that he has the strength to match his undoubted flair, he is still only 19 years old, with just five international appearances to his name.

There have been enough false dawns to justify any reticence in spending upwards of £40m on such raw talent. From Mirandinha to Denilson, there are countless Brazilian players who have have left their brilliance behind in South America.

The club have done their homework on Neymar, who has the endorsement of Abramovich's personal scout Piet de Visser. The Dutchman is said to be the man who brought Romario and Ronaldo to PSV Eindhoven. Tough acts to follow.