Neymar on long road to history
BARCELONA, Spain (AP)
Barcelona striker Neymar said he is ready to "start making history" with the Spanish champions and follow in a long line of Brazilians who have triumphed at Camp Nou.
Neymar signed a five-year contract on Monday with Barcelona, which will now boast an even more formidable attacking unit with Lionel Messi playing alongside the 21-year-old sensation.
At his presentation, Neymar said that besides playing with Messi one of the reasons he wanted to come to Barcelona was because he had grown up watching countryman Ronaldinho win titles in burgundy and blue.
Neymar said late Wednesday that Ronaldinho, the most recent Brazil star to leave his mark at Barcelona, is "beyond comparison" after he "made history with Barcelona."
''I remember him making moves, his dribbling, winning all those titles at Camp Nou,'' Neymar told Barcelona's television station. ''He made history at Barcelona and the Brazil national team ... In my case, I am beginning to make history and I hope that I can also leave my mark here in Barcelona.''
Neymar's move to Barcelona comes 10 years after Ronaldinho arrived in 2003 and helped begin its current winning era that has included three Champions League titles.
Barcelona paid ?57 million for Neymar, the eighth most expensive signing in football history. He will play with fellow Brazil team members Dani Alves and Adriano, both of whom are defenders.
''This team is great. It has great players and great friends, which is one of the most important things for a football team,'' said Neymar. ''Dani told me that this is what I would find at Barcelona. He encouraged me to come. Adriano also spoke to me about Barca and encouraged me, and here I am.''
Other Brazil stars that triumphed and became fan favorites at Barcelona include Romario (1993), Ronaldo (1996), and Rivaldo (1997).
Neymar joined Barcelona from Santos, his boyhood team that he led on its greatest run since Pele stopped playing for the Brazilian club in the 1970s. He helped Santos win the 2010 Brazilian Cup, the 2011 Copa Libertadores and three straight Sao Paulo state championships, becoming the team's leading scorer in the post-Pele era with 138 goals in 230 matches.