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Neymar threatens to quit after Qatar 2022; Is O Jogo Bonito really over?

Could Neymar really call it quits after Qatar 2022 or is the PSG attacker bluffing?

What is O Jogo Bonito?

O Jogo Bonito, translated to “play beautifully” was popularized by the grandmaster of Brazilian football Pele. A game-changing style of play that defined a nation. It is an art carefully crafted and mastered by Brazilians. They dribbled, faked, and feinted with fluid artistry towards 5 World Cup trophies, the highest any country has won.

Brazil has featured several legendary players. Cafu & Dani Alves are two of the best right-backs to grace the game. Marcelo and Roberto Carlos, the best left-backs ever. Ballon d’Or winner Ricardo Kaka is famous for his ability to skip past players before they knew he was ever there. Ronaldinho, Ronaldo the phenomenon, Zico, Pelé,Garrincha, and so many more.

Due to this level of talent running through the country, no team faces pressure to succeed like the Brazilians. This has always been the case, and the earlier generations embraced this with a smile. But the days of the grandmasters have come and gone. The image of the team now is one of the players who are in fear and emotionally frayed. The creative, joyful, and open style of play that is synonymous with Brazil and was once hailed as a beacon for the football world to follow is seemingly dissipating.

Football is now conforming to a more rigid and physical European style of play. Except for Neymar, no one in the Brazilian team comes close to some of their much-revered predecessors. Some would say the baton of dribbling was passed down to the young shoulders of the then rising star Neymar, and in him was hope for the rejuvenation of Joga bonito. 

Neymar is constantly criticized despite being one of the best players of his generation

Neymar is constantly under fire

The Brazilian star is unanimously considered one of the greatest footballers of his generation with his talent going unquestioned. Neymar is renowned for his flair, dribbling skills, speed, and execution. He brought back the days of O Jogo bonito, and the nation looked up to him to bring back the glory days. A task that proved too great to handle for one man. He gave and is still giving his all to live up to expectations. However, in the modern era where the Europeans have chosen a more tactical and rigid way of playing football, Neymar has arguably been the most scrutinized player in world football today. 

“I think it’s my last World Cup. I see it as my last because I don’t know if I have the strength of mind to deal with football anymore.” These words from Neymar in an explosive interview with DAZN have pierced the hearts of many football supporters. 

Before this interview, the Brazilian had earlier stated that he thought about quitting football after the 2018 World Cup. The PSG attacker was on the end of incessant criticism and even to his surprise, more from his native home in Brazil where he has been idolized.

Neymar makes football enjoyable to watch. Commentators have no more superlatives to describe his scintillating style of play. His displays for Santos, Barcelona, and PSG have lit up the football world and delivered football orgasms worldwide. That wasn’t enough to satisfy the modern football world. He has been maligned for diving (fair), dribbling/trickery, and questioned for greed because he moved to PSG. Also, Neymar is constantly compared to inferior players, but worst of all is the penchant to describe him as a player that did not fulfill his potential. What a load of bullshit!  

Neymar was once told by a referee to stop dribbling because it annoys the opposition defenders. Lucas Pasqueta was given a yellow card for dribbling two weeks ago, It was not surprising to see Neymar question the decision. He is the modern incarnation of that beautiful style of play. How did we get here? Is enjoyable football dying?

O Jogo bonito symbolizes the passion and love that the Brazilians have for football. ”I will never lose the passion for football, but I have had moments that I wanted to stop playing”, said Neymar in another interview with The Gaffer. Maybe Neymar would have been appreciated better in other eras. This era where tactics and output are more influential is not for him despite his impeccable output. In earlier years, O Jogo Bonito defied all odds and bamboozled its way into the hearts of supporters. That was the time for a player with Ney’s artistry. We cannot blame the 29-year-old Brazilian for wanting to call it quits. The only way he knows how to play is not accepted. His trickery now seems to irritate rather than levitate.

Is he bluffing?

Many players have made statements like these and did not follow through. However, seeing how the weight of his talent has been met with nothing but scrutiny, this could be a different case. His sad demeanor during the interview painted the picture of a man whose mental health has suffered under pressure and only carries on because of his love for the game. O Jogo bonito is a beautiful way to play the game of football, and we never want it to end. 

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