First it was Mario Balotelli, now Time Magazine focuses on another soccer wunderkind, Brazilian Neymar, as the cover subject of its latest issue.
Entitled, "The Next Pele," the article in the magazine's international edition features the 21-year old striker who was thrown out of his last game.
The subtitle on the cover posits an interesting read, "How the career of Brazilian football star Neymar explains his country's economy.
The timing of the cover is particularly ironic as Pele just came out publicly critizing his heir apparent.
In an interview with O Estado in Brazil, Pele was harsh with Neymar saying, "In Santos we say that he is the best in the world, but he cares more about appearing in the media than to play for the team. Neymar has a big responsibility. But his concern is to change his style, or his hair cut."
Pele also said Neymar needs to learn how to play against Europeans and that he should join Barcelona, as he is rumored to be doing in the near future.
- Neymar da Silva Santos Junior was born in Mogi das Cruzes, Sao Paulo 21 years ago to the day on February 5, 1992. The Brazilian has already become a worldwide phenomenon. To celebrate his big day, we take you through some of the most important days of his young life. Enjoy. Photo: Terra
- At 11, Santos offered him a contract to join their youth academy. Six years later, at 17, he debuted with the top team, where he stood out from the first day, winning the starting position as well as the heart of all the fans.
- Although most of the country wanted to see him at the 2010 World Cup, Dunga did not believe it was convenient, and his debut with the national team only came after the tournament when Mano Menezes took over.
- Since then the greats in Europe have had their eyes on him. He is considered the new Pele, creating a bidding war between Madrid and Barcelona for his talents.
- Luis Alvaro de Oliveira, president of Santos, has done everything in his power to keep him home, especially when it comes to Real Madrid signing him. Photo: Terra
- Messi could be his new teammate, as Barcelona is closest to signing him for an estimated 60 million Euros. Photo: Terra
- The Brazilian prodigy won the 2011 Puskas Award for the best goal that year. He was a runner up for the prize in 2012. Photo: Terra
- Last October, Neymar celebrated his 200th game for Santos by using the No. 200 jersey. He also happened to score a fantastic goal in the game. Photo: Getty Images Watch the goal.
- Although Neymar has yet to ply his trade in Europe, he is already a worldwide star. He even has his own logo which was unveiled in November. Photo: Loducca
- A day after his birthday (tomorrow), Neymar is scheduled to take on England with his Brazilian teammates from Stamford Bridge in London. Earlier this year, he showed off his national team's new kit. Photo: Terra Ready about it.
- Neymar already delighted English fans over the summer as he played with the Brazilian Olympic team at London 2012. Although he had some outstanding performances, Neymar and Brazil came up short of winning gold, falling to Mexico in the final. Photo: Getty Images