Athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer.
- Value for money
- Home market
- Willingness to be marketed
- Crossover appeal
Brazilian, 24, Soccer
Skilful star established as soccer’s surest bet
Representatives: Wagner Ribeiro, Neymar da Silva
Key partners: Nike, Panasonic, Claro, Volkswagen, Rexona, Gillette
2015 ranking: 2
When the dust settles on Neymar’s soccer career and the retrospectives are penned, 2016 may well end up being seen as a crucial fork in the road. Rumours suggest his club, FC Barcelona, have concerns about his personal life and commitment, while this year’s Olympic Games in Neymar’s home country will see him involved in a top-level tournament for the sixth consecutive summer. If his lifestyle doesn’t have an impact on his game, so the doomsayers have it, sheer physical burnout will.
Such worries have, so far, proved unfounded. If anything, the 2015/16 season saw Neymar reach new levels of maturity, not to mention outright brilliance, on the pitch: shouldering much of the responsibility for leading his team during Lionel Messi’s extended, injury-enforced mid-season absence; becoming the catalyst for Barcelona’s 39-game unbeaten run.
No one has yet emerged, meanwhile, to provide anything like viable competition for his place in Brazil’s Seleçao, where he remains not only the team’s talisman but the country’s undisputed national icon, the sole superstar in a generation of Brazilian players otherwise lacking in the country’s ineffable quality.
Saturation may prove a problem but, as his recent deal with Gillette in Latin America demonstrates, there remains the capacity for a big endorsement, especially in his home market. While the future will be shared by others – Paul Pogba and Dele Alli grace this list, with more set to emerge from the fringes – Neymar nevertheless remains soccer’s surest thing, the perfect combination of skilful samba spirit and off-the-pitch cool that will continue to draw brands and crowds for years to come. AN
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