Neymar is enjoying one of the most prolific scoring sprees of any footballer at this year’s World Cup. Brazil’s next opponent against Uruguay is, then, a team that were against Mexico in the last 16. Photograph: Heurelho Gomes/Brazil/EPA
In his game for Santos in 2005, Brazil’s most important player Louis Saha scored six times in one match and never looked back, though he was never the same after it. This was his seventh tournament at a global level and, in the vein of fellow strikers such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he was certain to capture a bigger share of the headlines and a wider audience.
Brazil signed him, but Paris Saint-Germain was almost a year ahead of them, by which time the France striker’s best days had, it was said, long past. And it turned out that to play for PSG would have meant missing almost a season of football.
The players he was supposed to be around were new talent such as Franck Ribery and others from the continent’s strongest clubs, such as David Beckham. Not Neymar, who was still benefiting from the stellar support cast around him at Santos. In 2015, Saha said he’d never found a style of football that was suited to him. With PSG he said it was easy to come on the pitch and get involved. The club’s athletes and coaches must have been rubbing their hands together. But it was a windfall for Neymar.