Neymar, YouTube & The Social Media Boom In Football

Posted: 20/06/2013 in Blog, Football, Social Media, Sport, YouTube
Tags: , , , , , ,

Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, or for short, Neymar. Where do we start?

At 21 years old he has 225 appearances and 136 goals for Brazilian club Santos, 35 senior team appearances for Brazil and 22 goals. Neymar has even drawn adulation from footballing legend Pele, who said – “I think Neymar has the capabilities to play better than Messi,”. This summer he became the 9th most expensive player ever when he left Santos to play with Spain’s Barcelona, for a reported transfer fee of €57 million where he will get to cut his teeth in the big leagues for the first time. He has many fans, doubters, and those who lie inbetween, waiting to see what the so-called prodigy of Brazilian football does on a bigger stage, but is he the first young footballer to be the focus of the internet and social media boom right from the start of his career?

Neymar celebrating scoring for Brazil

Neymar celebrating scoring for Brazil

The ever controversial Joey Barton (*sigh* I know…) labelled him the “Justin Bieber of football”, which in a way is a fair assessment. Much like the teenage popstar, Neymar arguably first found mainstream fame through YouTube. Many people flocked to compilation videos of his play at Santos and for Brazil’s youth teams, and despite playing in a lesser known and certainly less publicized league, has become a household name long before setting foot among the big names in Europe, something many of his predecessors in the game have not done.

When Brazil play, social media is awash with his name. People tune in almost with sole purpose to see what Neymar will do. If he plays well, his fans are out in force on Twitter, throwing “I told you so’s” out mercilessly and pushing the claims of him being footballs next big thing even more. Likewise, if he plays poorly, the doubters arise, labelling him “over-rated”, insisting he will flop once he takes the next step and be back in Brazil within a few seasons. Much like online fandoms (or hatedoms?), it becomes a tit for tat battle of trying to score points from either side.

Neymar showing off some of his skills during his unveiling at the Nou Camp

Neymar showing off some of his skills during his unveiling at the Nou Camp

Whether Neymar does succeed or flop remains to be seen, at 21 years old and set to line out at Barca next season, time will tell in the next 2-3 seasons what he is really capable of, but is he the start of a trend of young stars who rise to fame thanks to the controversial scouting system that is YouTube?

Using YouTube to look at footballers is a very debatable tool with many arguments for and against it. With the internet and social media, access has grown by an exponential amount over the last few years, with YouTube being just one part of that. Open up your web browser and within minutes you can be watching a game in Argentina while reading up on some wonder kid out in South Korea and analysing stats from the Russian Premier League. With the growth in access and technology, the spotlight on what were once ridiculously obscure leagues has also grown, making tracking and talking about the next wonder kid an awful lot easier for the general public.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The likes of Messi, Ronaldo, van Persie, Zidane, etc. were never subject to this treatment during their rise to prominence, to an extent, but it looks like most future stars will be. But what can YouTube tell us about a young player? It can give us an insight into their passing prowess, clinical finishing or highly technical skills. A good player can show all of these things in a standard YouTube highlight reel. However, it can’t show us other aspects. You won’t be able to see how they play off the ball, if they track back when opposition has the ball, or in Neymar’s case for the most part, having only played in Brazil, what they can do against a top class opposition.

The YouTube scouts and YouTube doubters can argue their points all day long, and while it can’t provide you with an overall definition of a player, it does have it’s uses in giving you some insight into the players abilities.

However this is a new aspect to football that is not going to die out any time soon. As the social media boom continues, people will continue to track and talk about young players like Neymar. For the forseeable future, what has happened Neymar will happen to every young “prodigy” when their name first begins to be whispered as they come to light. They will be praised to the heavens by fans, and brought right back down again by doubters until they prove themselves to the world. Whether they make it or not will always remain to be seen, but the YouTube scouting system is most certainly here to stay.

There is however one big positive that can be drawn from this new modern twist on football, and that is access. Thanks to the growth in media, television and internet, what were once majorly obscure leagues can now be viewed almost as easily as the Premier League. This can only be a positive for both fans and leagues. As fans get access to further out leagues, clubs and players, they gain interest and watch more, which can enhance their footballing knowledge. It can also benefit the league in question. As access to their competition grows, combined with fan interest, as does their reputation and the reputation of the clubs involved worldwide.

Overall, it’s fair to say, the growth of social media will expand on peoples knowledge and love for the game while at the same time benefiting the game. I don’t see what’s wrong with that at all.

  1. Gist Editor says:

    Great article. This is an argument I’ve had numerous times about numerous ‘youtube’ players. I’m on the side that says Neymar is a great player but still overrated(rare but true). I wrote an article about him a while back. here it is – . Do read it and kindly, tell me what you think

    • RobbieH46 says:

      Definitely a great player, no doubt about that! Needs to be let have time though to show what he can do before judging either way! Loved the article too, good points made about players who succeeded/flopped! 🙂

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