Five players dubbed ‘next Neymar’ including Liverpool target Endrick

Neymar: Pundits on whether PSG move was the right decision

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As the world’s most expensive player of all-time, Neymar is an icon to budding footballers across the world and especially in his native Brazil. The PSG star has become the benchmark for Brazilian clubs to mould their players on after enjoying his status as one of the most talented attacking players in the world, reflected by his staggering £198million (€222m) move from Barcelona in 2017.

The 31-year-old holds the record as Brazil’s all-time record goalscorer, equalling Pele on 77 goals in his 124 caps, and will surely surpass the Selecao legend in the coming months despite his injury. Even if his style of play divides opinion, few can deny he has star quality.

Some have fared better when handed the golden ‘new Neymar’ tag, while others have buckled under the pressure and failed to build on their early potential. Express Sport takes a look at five players who have been tipped to follow his path to stardom and what has happened to their careers since.

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Brazilians can assure themselves that when Neymar’s historic cycle with the international team comes to a close, there is a new heir waiting to take his place in Real Madrid starlet Endrick. He has all the same trickery an unflappable sense of confidence that proves he belongs at the top, just like Neymar did when he broke out onto the scene with S

The youngster, who made his senior debut for Palmeiras at the age of 15, has become a regular fixture in their side and captured the attention of Europe’s elite clubs last summer. Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City were all keen on the winger, along with PSG, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

But Madrid’s track record for buying and developing Brazil’s most promising talents was enough to lure Endrick to the Santiago Bernabeu in a historic £60m deal – the highest fee paid for a teenager in football history. He is not eligible to register with Los Blancos until July 2024 when he turns 18 and, until then, he can continue honing his craft before linking up with the Spanish giants.

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Vinicius Junior

Perhaps the only player who has not been daunted by the tag but relished it, Madrid will be hoping Endrick can follow the lead of Neymar and Vinicius Junior when he arrives in Spain. The winger has proved to be an enormous success in La Liga since he signed from Flamengo in 2018.

The 23-year-old scored the winning goal in the 2021-22 Champions League final against Liverpool and has been in devastating form ever since, notching 17 goals in all competitions this season. In some ways, he has moved away from the skilled dribbling that Neymar bases his game on and transformed into a deadly finisher.

While Neymar prefers to bask in the limelight, Vinicius keeps a lower profile away from the pitch and concentrates on his football. Now a regular under Carlo Ancelotti, Vinicius ousted Eden Hazard from the Madrid side – and one can only predict he will do the same to Neymar in the coming years.

Gabriel Barbosa

As the old adage goes, if you can’t beat them – or emulate them – join them. Barbosa, once billed as the next Santos talent to follow in Neymar’s lead, may not have enjoyed such success in Europe but he is closer than ever to being like his idol after dating the star’s sister.

Neymar’s sister Rafaella confirmed through social media that she is Brazil international Barbosa – nicknamed ‘Gabigol’ – in March this year, making their relationship official on social media after posting a snap on Instagram.

The forward was tipped to follow in Neymar’s path after joining Inter Milan as a youngster in a £21m deal. However, he managed just one goal in nine appearances and left in 2020 permanently to sign for Flamengo. There, he has experienced a hugely successful period with the Brazilian side, scoring 142 goals in 223 appearances, and while his dreams of following Neymar haven’t quite materialised, he now plays alongside him in the national team which is the next best thing.

Marcos Leonardo

One of the more recent prospects to emerge from Brazil with likenesses to Neymar is another Santos prodigy, Marcos Leonardo, who has been targeted by several European clubs including three from the Premier League. Those comparisons are inevitable given they came through the same academy, although Leonardo is more of a central striker than winger.

According to Calciomercato, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United are all keeping tabs on the teenage sensation after scoring 21 goals in 57 appearances during the 2022 campaign for the Brazilian side.

Napoli are thought to be monitoring the young forward, but he has already established his wish to play in the Premier League telling The Mirror: “I watch a lot of games, and it is one of the main championships in the world. Not only for the competition among the teams, but also for the whole league. The proof is that English clubs always arrive in finals like the Champions League.”

Kaio Jorge

If not to represent Santos’ extraordinary ability to produce talented players, it seems one player has emerged every year since Neymar broke through in 2010. Hopes were high that Kaio Jorge would be the next player to seal a big-money move to Europe, but it hasn’t quite panned out for the 21-year-old yet.

Like Barbosa, the young forward decided to snub interest from England and Spain to head to Italy with Juventus – and it is fair to say times have been tough for the forward. The majority of his 11 appearances for the club have come from the bench and with little time to make an impact, and he is yet to open his Juventus account.

Max Allegri demoted the youngster to the Under-23 side, who compete in Serie C, and he is yet to shine for the Italian giants. A move back to Brazil looks like the most likely outcome for Jorge after falling down the pecking order – and it seems those early Neymar comparisons may have done more harm than good for his career.

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