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Barcelona's Neymar would not even get into the 1970 Brazil side says Brazilian legend

Anirudh Menon
4.96K   //    14 Mar 2017, 22:16 IST

What’s the Story?

Despite a stunning performance in Barcelona’s recent miracle 6-1 defeat of PSG in the Champions League, and carrying Brazil on his back for the vast majority of his international career, Brazil legend Gerson is not sure he is good enough. Not good enough to make what many consider to be the Greatest Team of All Time anyway – the 1970 World Cup winning Brazil Team. 

"There wouldn't be a space for Neymar," said Gerson  "In whose place would he play? He can't take Rivellino's spot. Nor Pelé's. Would he come in for Tostao? For Jairzinho? There wouldn't even be room in midfield for him"  

“We had Caju, an enormous talent," he added. "As a No.10 and in midfield he played a lot. He was pure talent. He was brilliant wherever you put him -- and he was a substitute. So I don't even know if Neymar would have a place on the bench in that team." 

In case you didn’t know

Gerson is a legend of the game, and before you start hating on the man, here’s a quick recap of his role in what many consider to be the greatest goal of all time (he’s the one who started it all off with the piruoette and lazy, beautiful, dribble that clean takes out three Italians)

Winning the world cup was the highlight of the tough, yet elegant, central midfielder’s career. He like many of his great compatriots spent all his playing career in the domestic circles of Brazil and played for clubs of the stature of Flamengo, Botafago, Sao Paulo and Fluminense

The heart of the matter

Neymar is a brilliant footballer of near untouched skill, and on his day can give anyone on the planet a clean run around. The thing with him, though, is that his day comes more often than not. Gerson’s scathing analysis though highlights that Brazil have had much better footballers in his opinion. In attack, that ‘70s team had Pele up top, the incomparable genius of Tostao up in support, the irreplaceable Rivellino and Jairznho on the wings. That was an attack that was capable of most anything that a footballer can conjure and it’s hard to look past their brilliance. 

What Next?

Neymar may yet change the 70-year old veteran’s mind. Every time he puts on the canary-yellow he takes it upon himself to up his game and as he showed in that mesmeric showing against Argentina in last year’s world cup qualifier – he can single handedly win them matches. A decent result in the 2018 World Cup, and Gerson may well be soon backtracking on his comments. 

Author’s Take

Gerson may have a point about Neymar not being able to replace anyone in a peak Pele, Tostao, Jairzinho, Rivellino attack, not now, but saying that he wouldn’t even make the bench is a bit much. The sheer amount of consistently brilliant performances from Neymar may have dulled us to accepting just how good a footballer he is. Current Neymar would easy find a place on that bench (at the very least), and in a couple of years, I have the feeling he may become the class of player who could replace anyone in any team. 

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Anirudh Menon
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