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Neymar says: “Eu Fico!”

August 20, 2010
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Neymar the Redeemer: open arms to Brazil!

In Brazilian history, the Dia do Fico, or the ‘I Stay Day’, was when Dom Pedro de Alcantara – then heir to the Portuguese throne and interim ruler of Brazil – decided to ignore Crown orders for his immediate return to Portugal and, in order to please Liberals and the general populace, remained in Brazil:

Se é para o bem de todos e felicidade geral da Nação, estou pronto! Digam ao povo que fico = “If it is for the well-being of all and the general happiness of our Nation, I am ready! Tell the people that I stay” – D. Pedro, January 9th, 1822

Dom Pedro’s act of defiance was the prelude to Brazil’s independence from Portugal. In September of that year, by the shores of the Ipiranga river, Pedro famously pulled out his blue-white armband that symbolized Portugal and said: “Armbands off, soldiers! Hail to the independence, to freedom and to the separation of Brazil”. He then unsheathed his sword, affirming that “For my blood, my honor, my God, I swear to give Brazil freedom” and cried out: “Independence or death!” …- or something to that effect. One can never be 100% sure, as most of Brazil’s history seems to have been written by the same poets who gave us Bossanova verses and Samba magic.

Pedro I: "I stay!"

Nevertheless, flowery details aside, Dom Pedro’s symbolic decision to stay put in order to declare Brazil independent was crucial. It catapulted Brazil into a new status. A new Era. They were no longer a colony. Brazil had assumed a new identity.

Fast-forward to August 19th, 2010…

Perhaps not as grand a gesture that politically re-shapes an entire country, footballer Neymar’s decision to remain in Brazil is of equal historical significance.

The 18 year old Brazilian superstar and his father-agent had been hounded by English giants Chelsea for weeks, who were willing to offer astronomical 25 – 30 million Euros for the youngster’s move to London. However, Neymar’s club Santos stated – repeatedly – that they would not release him for less than 35 million. Good for them!

After many meetings and consultations with the likes of Pele and new Selecao manager Mano Menezes, Neymar put an end to the drama: “eu fico” at Santos = “I am happy here, and I want to remain here”.

Obviously, happiness and love for the club alone did not do it. That Neymar loves playing in the Brazilian league no one doubts, but Chelsea’s millionaire persistence had to be matched by the business boys at Santos – somehow.  And so they offered the boy “Robinho status”. Santos increased his club wages, and on top of that offered market stocks options for him and his family. His stocks would increase his monthly salary even more, going beyond the $R 1 million mark (US $600,000); and the stocks destined to his family would bring Neymar peace of mind. In other words, with an unprecedented business savvy touch for a Brazilian club, Santos gained control of Neymar’s professional and personal life. It sounds worse than it actually is, but it was a necessary move that in the end pleased Neymar and his staff. Moreover, as part of the deal, Santos put in place an aggressive marketing strategy: they will use experts and all publicity tools available in order to boost up Neymar’s image in Europe in the years to come – mainly in England, Spain and Italy – so that the value of his already hyped up persona increases even more. What’s more, immediately upon signing the new contract, Neymar’s buy out clause skyrocketed to a minimum of 45M Euros – for an 18 year old, that’s astonishing. Presently, there seems to be no imaginable limit to what his future will be worth. He might indeed become the world’s most expensive footballer of all time.

Furthermore, Santos ultimate ambition is for Neymar to become the very first Brazil-based FIFA World Player of the year. Indeed, a tremendously – and unprecedentedly – ambitious goal for a Brazilian club. However, since Neymar’s new contract guarantees that he will remain at Vila Belmiro for the next five years, if he keeps his form, continues to grow, and becomes a key member of an eventual Brazil 2014 World Champions side, he might very well meet Santos’ expectations; and might I add, with a certain ease.

These exciting events all point to the current reality that Brazil, as a nation, has become a big international player.  As Santos President Luis Alvaro stated at the press conference following Neymar’s decision to stay: “We no longer accept the idea that we’re an underdeveloped nation always at the mercy of the powerful European clubs”.

Economic reforms have turned the country into one of the fastest growing markets, and the future has never looked brighter for the Brasileiros. The main football league in Brazil, Serie A, has certainly felt the economic boom. Recently, because of said reforms, many footballers have expressed interest in either remaining in Brazil (as Neymar did), or catching an early flight to the motherland, leaving the European dream behind. World-class stars such as Robinho, Adriano, Deco, Belletti, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Fred, Paulo Ganso, Diego Tardelli and Diego Souza are all currently playing in Brazil. At the managerial level, it has been rumored that Swede coach Sven Goran Eriksson might make a move to Brazil as well, joining the Sao Paulo FC staff in 2011.  Suddenly, for the first time in history, there is talent coming into Brazil.

The clubs have finally gained the financial stability they have been seeking for decades. New legislations and clauses are being put in place so that talented young players remain in Brazil for a longer period of time. The image and public persona of these bright youngsters are finally being protected more effectively, and they are no longer being produced as exportation cash-cows only.  Brazil is finally investing in their youth, and not getting rid of their kids at ‘banana prices’.  Santos have just proven that.

Certainly, Brazil is no longer a colony. Neymar’s “eu fico” decision has launched a new age. European clubs are no longer able to swiftly march into Brazil for a bargain; they will have to truly work now.  The financial gap between the negotiators is no longer drastically wide, and until big international clubs find new ways to attract Brazilian footballers, they will remain at home – for the general happiness of our Nation!

RB.

Neymar, President Lula and Paulo Ganso: a new era for the Brazilian League

#Brazil Annouce Squad for Training Session in Barcelona: Aug 30 – Sept 9 2010:

Mano Menezes has selected “foreign” Brazilians only for his upcoming training sessions in Spain with the Selecao. He did not want to disrupt the campaigns of local Brazilian teams; these are the lucky players:

GOLEIROS:
Gomes (Tottenham)
Diego Alves (Almería)

LATERAIS:
Daniel Alves (Barcelona)
Rafael (Manchester)
André Santos (Fenerbahçe)
Marcelo (Real Madrid)

ZAGUEIROS:
Alex (Chelsea)
David Luiz (Benfica)
Henrique (Racing Santander)
Thiago Silva (Milan)

VOLANTES:
Hernanes (Lazio)
Ramires (Benfica)
Sandro (Tottenham)
Lucas (Liverpool)

MEIAS:
Carlos Eduardo (Hoffenheim)
Douglas Costa (Shakhtar)
Fernandinho (Shakhtar)
Philippe Coutinho (Internazionale)

ATACANTES:
Alexandre Pato (Milan)
Robinho (Manchester City)
André (Dínamo de Kiev)
Hulk (Porto)

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