Let me start by being very clear: Neymar is one of the most marketable athletes in the world.
Sports Pro Media has him as the seventh most marketable athlete in 2017 stating, “Neymar still represents a long-term, blue-chip investment, a chance for sponsors to not just be associated with the heir to soccer’s throne but with the global mega brands of FC Barcelona and Brazil’s Seleção too.”
Neymar represents a talent which has yet to peak and he is poised to reach the height of his career as those of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo decline, an ideal sequence of events to thrust him further into the spotlight.
He has also operated while legal issues surrounding his move to Barcelona from Santos continue to remain mostly out of the public eye with a corruption trial still due to go forth in Spanish court.
Finally, he has an enormous social media following as well providing a valuable platform for sponsors and brands.
With 84.8 million Instagram followers and average engagement of 54.05 per cent, compared to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 116.1 million and 60.51 per cent and LeBron James’ 33.9 million and 47.08 per cent, shows his comparable marketability.
In August, in the fallout of his transfer to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), Barcelona threatened to sue Neymar for breach of contract, claiming that he owes millions in damages, plus the return of a bonus and 10 per cent in interest. However, over the last few months since his move from Barcelona, it seems that negativity after negativity has pervaded his image.
Neymar responded by hitting out at Barcelona’s board saying, “they shouldn’t be there.”
The preceding, obviously representing a very amicable departure and a great signal to potential collaborators of how enjoyable and professional Neymar is as an employee.
Furthermore, there was the great penalty fiasco, where Neymar essentially threw a fit over the fact that Cavani was taking penalties for his new club rather than, well, himself.
Regardless of one’s opinion on this, it should be agreed that it is not a good look to be in the spotlight for crying foul over not taking penalties, undermining your manager and creating an even bigger locker room rift when a senior squad member, Dani Alves, decided to get vocally involved.
I would very much be interested in any opinion which suggests that this creates a positive reputation amongst casual and neutral observers, as well as for potential brands, clubs and staff because quite frankly I don’t see it.
For the record: Neymar is now taking PSG’s penalties.
Repeated rumours over whether or not Neymar was sick of Ligue 1 and regretted his move to Paris have been healthily circulated, without denial from Neymar himself or his agent until extremely recently, which at the time suggested at worst that the rumours carried weight and at best that he felt it okay to let such rumours circulate despite their falseness.
To move from Barcelona to Paris was a big jump and of course, it was never going to go off without a hitch. However, suggestions that he, in fact, regrets the move altogether cannot be good news for him as a marketable figure.
If, when making a fundamental move in his career, Neymar is so unsure and destabilized a component after-the-fact, what does that say about him as a human being?
What message does this send to brands about his ability to commit and embrace opportunities he chooses to take?
Certainly nothing positive.
Take Neymar’s Nike deal, for example. It is due to come to an end in 2022, and he is surely due a massive pay rise given his increased marketability and skill since he first signed on in 2011, but what will truly increase the value of such a deal is the competition for his signature.
However, if Adidas or Puma are frightened by the prospect of signing Neymar to a big money deal due to fear that perhaps he regrets such a decision mere months into the contract would be detrimental to the willingness of Adidas or Puma to make such a deal at all.
Papers have recently circulated that “Neymar told ex-teammates he regrets Paris Saint-Germain move.”
If you are a brand, put your own name in that sentence. It reads: ‘Neymar tells ex-teammates he regrets Adidas move’ and that’s got to be frightening if you’re an Adidas executive.
On top of that, you appear to be dealing with an individual prone to expecting things exactly the way he wants them, which would seem to limit his ability to adapt and collaborate with brands.
Imagine the hassle of a star who insists that he direct the commercial. Which actually begins to sound a lot like how Neymar handled himself in the penalty taking fiasco early this year, where he subordinated his own manager.
Some respite was found recently at a post-match press conference following a friendly between Japan and Brazil, which Brazil won, though you wouldn’t know it. The post-match presser quickly turned into a Neymar press event, with Brazil manager, Tite, coming out in support of the star.
He claimed that very few could claim to know the star and that it is hard to make such a move from Barcelona to PSG.
So incredibly moving was this moment for Neymar that he actually cried at the conference.
And finally a rebuttal from the man himself: “I don’t like made up stories. My trouble is with part of the press. It is not against everyone. It is against those that think they know it all, but they don’t. I have no issue with Cavani, no issue with the coach. On the contrary, I came to PSG with his support.”
That is certainly a decent start to polishing his image, however, what is clearly evident is that Neymar needs a tempering influence to help manage the manner in which he reacts in the public and private sphere.
Recently, though an even less polished reaction regarding rumours he is on his way to Real Madrid, show a player lacking proper media direction and oversight saying, “For ****’s sake. Have you got nothing else to talk about?”
To which I might respond with the suggestion that perhaps it would be best take more control of the narrative unless the old adage of “all press is good press” is to be believed.
*Over last 20 posts as of November 26 2017, information provided by Websta
Image: Doha Stadium Plus Qatar