The value of Neymar to Barcelona is clear after the 24-year-old agreed a new contract until 2021 with the club he joined three seasons ago from Santos.
While Neymar came to the Camp Nou with a big reputation, he has only enhanced it since, with a UEFA Champions League winner’s medal in 2014/15 – the Brazilian finishing joint top scorer with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – added to be UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup successes plus Spanish doubles in the last two seasons.
Neymar has 85 goals in 141 Barcelona appearances, including 17 in 31 UEFA Champions League matches, while forming one part of the Blaugrana’s ‘MSN’ front three with Messi and Luis Suárez that some consider the most formidable ever assembled.
So is the man who is up to 70 Brazil caps and 46 international goals, in senior career total of 265 strikes, before the age of 25 already taking his place among the greats? We assess him alongside other great Brazilians to have lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy.
Who is the competition’s greatest Brazilian? Do you think Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo or someone else should be on our shortlist? Let us know on @ChampionsLeague using #UCL.
Brazil provided 66 players to last season’s UEFA Champions League group stage. Only Spain, France, Portugal and Germany supplied more.
In all 55 Brazilians have been involved in European Cup-winning squads including 48 in the UEFA Champions League era.
Titles: 1 (2015)
Claim: With many years to go in his career, Neymar is already among the UEFA Champions League’s top 50 all-time scorers and his scoring rate of 0.55 a game compares favourably to all other leading Brazilians of the post-1992 era other than Romário. Neymar was also the joint assist leader in 2015/16 with five, proving his role alongside fellow South Americans Messi and Suárez.
Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid, Fenerbahçe)
Titles: 3 (1998, 2000, 2002)
Claim: As a full-back, overlapping winger and set-piece taker, Roberto Carlos played a key role in Madrid’s three titles in five seasons across the turn of the century. Only Iker Casillas, Raúl, Xavi Hernández and Cristiano Ronaldo have played more minutes of UEFA Champions League football than Roberto Carlos.
Kaká (Real Madrid, AC Milan)
Titles: 1 (2007)
Claim: Still playing with Orlando City in the MLS, Kaká’s part in AC Milan’s 2006/07 triumped was marked by his victories in the FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or polls, the last time neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor Messi won either the separate or merged awards. He set up Filippo Inzaghi’s winning goal in the final against Liverpool and finished as top scorer in the competition with ten goals, proving his abilities as a finisher as well as provider. Was also brilliant in the 2005 final despite Milan’s eventual defeat. His 30 goals is the most by a Brazilian in the UEFA Champions League, a record very much in Neymar’s sights.
Daniel Alves (Sevilla, Barcelona)
Titles: 3 (2009, 2011, 2015)
Claim: A two-time UEFA Cup winner with Sevilla before his three UEFA Champions League triumphs at Barcelona (though he missed the 2009 final through suspension), Alves has been as brilliant on the right of defence as Roberto Carlos was on the opposite flank. After eight seasons at Barcelona, which also included six Liga titles, five Copa del Reys, three UEFA Super Cups and three FIFA Club World Cups, Alves now hopes to add to those totals at new club Juventus.
Lúcio (Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern München, Internazionale Milano, Juventus)
Titles: 1 (2010)
Claim: A runner-up with Leverkusen to Roberto Carlos’s Madrid in 2002 before going one better against former club Bayern with Inter eight years later, Lúcio’s reliable displays in the centre of defence also helped Brazil to the 2002 FIFA World Cup, not missing a minute of their Far East campaign. Also able to chip in with goals, including his header to equalise in the 2002 final.