While Neymar will watch Brazil’s crunch World Cup semi-final against Germany with tears in his eyes, one other Selecao superstar has been in pain throughout the tournament after failing to make the cut for Phil Scolari’s squad: Lucas Moura.
And the most painful part is that it could have been so different for the midfielder had he made the right choice back in 2012.
Impressive for previous club Sao Paulo, the midfielder had the choice of two major clubs – Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United.
It was a decision not too dissimilar to the one offered to Paul Gascoigne back in his Newcastle heyday, with Sir Alex Ferguson keen to bring the mercurial Geordie to Old Trafford while Tottenham were hoping that financial incentives – like the offer to buy his parents a house – would be enough.
Moura, like Gazza before him, took the money and like the blubbering English legend, the Brazilian may be starting to regret the decision.
An attacking midfielder also capable of playing on the wing, it’s fair to say that Moura has yet to hit the high notes for PSG following his £44.3m move to the club, scoring just three goals in 55 games for the Parisiens.
And while that indifferent return didn’t prevent him collecting a Ligue 1 winners medal for PSG it did ultimately cost Moura a place at the World Cup in his home nation of Brazil – something that would have been deemed unthinkable two years previous.
With an uncertain future in prospect, the Brazilian looks likely to depart Parc des Princes, with PSG already rumoured to be offering up the player to other clubs across Europe in a bid to fund further summer moves.
And while unlikely at this stage, the arrival of Louis van Gaal could see Manchester United return for Moura – provided a transfer fee can be negotiated.
The Holland manager has shown his ability to get the best out of players both young and old at this World Cup, turning unfashionable and inexperienced defenders like Bruno Martins Indi into world-beaters while also coaxing performances out of ‘washed-up’ stars like Wesley Sneijder.
At just 21, Moura also has his entire career ahead of him. Second chances don’t come around often in football but if the Red Devils do come calling and the PSG man is serious about playing in Russia four years from now, the answer will have to be ‘yes’.
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