Neymar Beats Pele’s Record, But Can He Ever Be Brazil’s Greatest?

Neymar has broken Pele’s record by achieving the most goals for Brazil’s men’s team. Neymar scored two goals in Brazil’s 5-1 victory over Bolivia in World Cup qualifiers on Friday. This brings his total to 79 goals in 125 games for the Selecao. Pele, who died in December at 82, had scored 77 goals in 92 matches from 1957 to 19712.

This is a remarkable achievement for Neymar, who is one of the most accomplished and influential players of his era. He has won many trophies and awards at club and international level, such as the Champions League, the Copa America, and the FIFA Puskas Award. He has also been a finalist for the Ballon d’Or six times, coming third in 2015 and 2017.

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However, Neymar still has some obstacles to overcome to be considered a Brazilian legend like Pele or Ronaldo. Despite his individual talent, he has not led Brazil to a World Cup title. This is the utmost goal of every Brazilian player and fan. He was injured and missed the 2014 semi-final against Germany, where Brazil lost 7-1 at home. He also could not inspire Brazil in the 2018 quarter-final against Belgium, where they were defeated 2-1.

Neymar Beats Pele’s Record, But Can He Ever Be Brazil’s Greatest?

Moreover, Neymar has often been subjected to criticism for his attitude and conduct on and off the pitch. He has been criticized for diving, faking injuries, disputing with referees, and fighting with teammates and opponents. He has also been involved in several scandals and controversies, such as tax evasion, rape allegations, and transfer disputes. Some fans and pundits doubt his commitment and professionalism, especially after his surprise move from Paris Saint-Germain to Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal in the summer

On the other hand, Pele is widely considered the best footballer of all time. He won three World Cups with Brazil in 1958, 1962, and 1970, scoring 12 goals. He also scored over 1,000 goals in his club career, mostly for Santos in Brazil and New York Cosmos in the United States. He was named FIFA Player of the Century in 2000, along with Diego Maradona.

Style of Pele and Neymar

The styles and roles of Pele and Neymar as players are different. Pele was a classic centre-forward, who could score with both feet and his head, as well as create chances for others with his vision and passing. He is more of a winger or a playmaker, who relies on his speed, dribbling, and flair to beat defenders and set up goals. In that sense, Neymar is a throwback; his game is closer to Pele than Ronaldo. Yet, he operates in a different space than Pele.

Neymar has surpassed Pele as Brazil’s top male goal scorer, but he still has a long way to go to match his legacy and status as a Brazilian icon. Neymar respects Pele and does not want to be compared. It is more important for Neymar to make his own history than to follow the footsteps of others.

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