Pitchside Europe

Ballon d’Eurosport – No.19: Neymar

Pitchside Europe

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This summer Eurosport is counting down the world's greatest footballers, as voted by our international network of journalists. We will reveal one player per day, culminating in the election of the first Ballon d'Eurosport on July 19.

The Ballon d'Eurosport explained.

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Neymar, 21, last month announced he would be joining Liga giants Barcelona from boyhood club Santos, despite interest from Barca's rivals Real Madrid. A week later, his formal unveiling brought legions of fans to Camp Nou, despite there being no match. His transfer cost around £48.5 million, with a release clause set at about £160 million.

That in itself says enough about the star power and upside of Brazil's latest superstar, but it's only the start.

Aged just 18 in 2010, Neymar finished third in the South American footballer of the year poll. Rather than viewing this as an achievement, the teenager went and improved upon it by winning the award for the next two seasons, including a 2011 campaign in which he helped inspire Santos to Copa Libertadores glory.

54 goals in 103 Santos appearances were soon accompanied by 23 goals for the Brazilian senior side in just 37 caps, having represented his nation across three youth levels prior to that.

After becoming synonymous with online viral videos of his latest incredible goal, assist or piece of individual mastery - as well as his ability to shake off jet-lag and star for Santos 24 hours after jetting back to Brazil from international duty - he decided after a 2012 which included more awards and an Olympic debut that it was finally time to test himself elsewhere.

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How Eurosport voted

We asked the editorial teams of 10 countries/areas around the Eurosport network to compile their list of the world's 25 best players.

Then we did the sums, Eurovision-style. It's simple: a first-place vote is worth 25 points, second place is 24... all the way down to one point for a 25th-place vote.

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The Ballon d'Eurosport so far
30-Sergio Aguero
29-Sergio Ramos
28-Wayne Rooney
27-Yaya Toure
26-Arjen Robben
25-Mario Balotelli
24-Juan Mata
23-Manuel Neuer
22-Thomas Mueller
21-Marco Reus
20-Mesut Ozil

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