Neymar helps Santos to reprise glory days of Pele
Friday 24 June 2011
Santos hope that Neymar, the Brazilian teenager with the Mohican and the quicksilver feet, will resist the lure of Europe for one more season after the club won the Copa Libertadores – the South America equivalent of the Champions League – for the first time since Pele's heyday in 1963.
The 19-year-old, likely to go to Chelsea or Real Madrid despite a €45m (£40m) release clause, shone in the Brazilian club's tempestuous 2-1 win over Uruguay's Penarol in the early hours of yesterday, scoring the first goal and assisting in the second. The first leg had finished 0-0.
Santos president Luis Alfaro Ribeiro hopes Neymar will stay on for December's World Club Cup, which is more highly regarded in South America than in Europe. Santos also hope to hold on to Paulo Henrique Ganso, the midfielder who was the true architect of their Copa victory but is coveted by both Milan clubs.
Penarol took the defeat badly and after the final whistle a brawl broke out, apparently started by their players but swiftly spreading to include Santos staff and fans – but not a celebrating old boy, Pele, resplendent in a burgundy jacket.
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