Neymar Jr of Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil has established himself as arguably the best footballer of his generation.
Neymar, a certified superstar since his teenage years with Santos, made his national team debut following the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Notably, the then-18-year-old made his senior debut for Brazil before even making his U-20 debut in 2011. Neymar is the most expensive footballer in history, having cost PSG €222 million when he moved from Barcelona.
The 29-year-old has now successfully led Brazil to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, scoring seven goals and assisting eight times in nine qualifier appearances. Since his debut 11 years ago, Neymar has carried the Brazil national team and is currently the Selecao’s second highest scorer with 70 goals in 116 appearances.
The only active Selecao player who has more goals than Neymar is Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus, who has 18 goals.
No matter how good a footballer is, his or her career must come to an end at some point. Neymar is now 29 years old and nearing the end of his international career. The forward has previously stated his desire to end his international career as soon as possible.
As a result, Brazil must seek out and bring in younger players who can fill in for him if he decides to retire. On that note, here are five players who could take Neymar’s place in the Brazilian national team:
Number 5: Rodrygo
Rodrygo Goes, a Real Madrid whiz kid, has been dubbed the “next Neymar.” In many ways, his footballing journey is similar to Neymar’s. The 20-year-old, like Neymar, came up through Santos’ youth system and made his debut for Brazil as an 18-year-old in 2019.
At the Santiago Bernabeu, the youngster is still learning his trade and has yet to establish himself as a starter. He has only made three appearances for Brazil in his career, all of which were as a substitute.
Despite playing on the wing, Rodrygo has proven to be an excellent finisher, scoring both of his goals this season in only three UEFA Champions League appearances. Rodrygo, who is still only 20, has a long career ahead of him and can further establish himself as Neymar’s heir by leading Selecao as Neymar has.
Notably, Rodrygo is the second-youngest player in Champions League history to score a hat-trick.
Number 4: Antony
Antony, an Ajax winger, is one of the most prominent Brazilian talents currently working in Europe. This season, the 21-year-old has dominated the Eredivisie and UEFA Champions League. In four Champions League appearances this season, he has one goal and five assists.
The winger, like Neymar, has a bag of tricks ready to be unleashed on any defender standing between him and the goal. On his current trajectory, it is only a matter of time before he is forced to leave Ajax for a more prestigious league.
The youngster scored on his debut for Brazil and has since made three more substitute appearances for his country. His youth makes him an exciting prospect for Brazil in the coming years, and he will be a part of the Selecao set-up for the foreseeable future. Antony was also a member of Brazil’s Olympic gold-medal winning team earlier this summer.
Number 3: Lucas Paqueta
Lucas Paqueta is another rising Brazilian star with the Selecao, following in the footsteps of Neymar. The attacking midfielder arrived in Europe from Flamengo before suffering a difficult spell at AC Milan and being sold in a bargain deal to Olympique Lyonnais.
In France, the 24-year-old rediscovered his brilliant best and has impressed when called upon by Brazil. In his 27th cap for his country, he scored the goal that qualified Brazil for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, thanks to a pass from Neymar.
Paqueta, a top-tier performer, has quickly become a fan favorite in Brazil thanks to his impressive performances for the national team. His ability to score goals and be creative are two qualities that have endeared him to Brazilian fans. His performance with the national team has positioned him as one of the team’s next leaders, following Neymar.
Number 2: Richarlison
Richarlison is another player mentioned as a possible replacement for Neymar with Brazil. Since his debut in the English Premier League as a Watford player, the Everton forward has been a standout performer.
The 24-year-old is capable of playing across the frontline and has established himself as a fantastic goalscorer who can score in various ways. Richarlison is one player who has played alongside Neymar regularly for Brazil, having made 32 appearances for the Selecao since 2018. He has already scored ten goals for his country.
He also captained Brazil’s U-23 team at the Tokyo Olympics, scoring five goals in six games. Brazil won gold in the same tournament five years ago, after Neymar did. Richarlison’s adaptability and goal-scoring ability make him a safe bet to be a player to watch in the coming years.
Number 1: Vinicius Jr
Vinicius Junior, a Real Madrid winger, has also been dubbed the “next Neymar” by Brazilian football fans. This season, the 21-year-old has advanced to a new level under Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid after adding clinical finishing to his game.
Vinicius Jr’s ability to use outrageous skills and flicks made him quite similar to Neymar, and he has now added impressive finishing to his game.
Because he plays in the same position as Neymar, the youngster has had little time with the Brazilian national team. Dislodging Neymar from the national team is understandably impossible, but not impossible in the future.
Vinicius has only played eight times for Brazil and has yet to score a goal. The Real Madrid star will undoubtedly play an important role for Brazil in the coming years.