Neymar has declared his intention to sign a five-year deal with Barcelona on Monday through his Instagram account, bringing an end to a transfer saga that feels like it has gone on since sometime around 1993.
Barcelona confirmed Neymar's announcement on their official website in a report titled "Neymar da Silva: 'O Rei' of the 21st century." O Rei is, of course, Pele's nickname. So calling the 21-year-old O Rei of the 21st century furthers the frequent comparisons between the two and adds an extra scoop of ridiculousness to the already impossible expectations on Neymar. The report also includes a section titled "Pele's blessing" which highlights the basic points of comparison and admiration between the two Brazilians.
Neymar will play his final match for Santos on Sunday, which he plans to use as a farewell party for himself. From the AP:
''I want to thank Santos fans for these nine incredible years,'' Neymar said. ''My feelings for the club and the fans will never change. I made it sure that I play (this last match) so I can have the opportunity to once again enter the field wearing the team's jersey and to hear the fan chant my name.''
Neymar failed to impress when he faced Barcelona in the 2011 Club World Cup final, though he was named the tournament's third best player. Now that he and Lionel Messi will be teammates, it could ease some of Barcelona's reliance on the four-time Ballon d'Or winner and return Barca to their old dominance. Or the move to a new continent and years of ballooning expectations will prove to be a heavy burden on a young footballer who has already been declared royalty.