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Neymar Set To Overtake Ronaldo, Become Face Of Nike

Cristiano Ronaldo versus Lionel Messi. It seems like the soccer world has debated these two for a millennia. It’s no surprise, to be sure, with the two playing for storied and rival clubs in Real Madrid and Barcelona, respectively. However, the rivalry also extends toward sports marketing – and the heavyweights in soccer, Nike and adidas.

While fans and pundits can continue to argue over who is the better player, one thing is certain: Both players have been tremendous to their respective brands. Ronaldo headlines Nike’s impressive soccer lineup, and Messi does the same for adidas. But, if a brand doesn’t stay up-to-date with trends, it’s easy to get lost in the spotlight. Which is why it is rumored that Neymar may take over as Nike's leading man in the very near future.

Ronaldo’s talent is undeniable, but he is — believe it or not — a human being, first and foremost. Like any of us, he ages. He’s 30, and entering the twilight of his playing career. That’s not to suggest that he’s out of form, but it’s highly unlikely he has even a decade left on the pitch. Neymar, at 23 and ever-improving on the field,  is set to take his place. For those of you taking notes, that would put the leading men for Nike and adidas at the same club, FC Barcelona, adding to Real Madrid's recent woes.

According to a report from Marketing Deportivo, Nike is looking to capitalize on its impressive young talent, and use him as the main brand superstar as early as next year.  

As you take in this news, it's worth taking a look back at some of Ronaldo's impressive work as leading man for Nike and its Mercurial soccer cleat lineup. 

It doesn’t come as a great surprise that Nike will look to position Neymar as the face of the brand next year, as the Brazilian's home country will play host to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Aside from the World Cup, no other sports competition has such an international reach, and it is the perfect platform for companies to unveil new products or brands. 

It certainly doesn’t hurt that Neymar is playing the best football of his young career. Neymar used a knee injury that sidelining Messi early in the season as an opportunity to showcase his amazing talent with more time on the ball, and his overall season numbers demonstrate just how effective he can be, with 14 goals in 17 matches between La Liga and the Champions League. 

Neymar Nike: The New Face?

The new face of the brand? (Photo: @deideasmkt | Twitter)

Though Ronaldo has put up strong numbers, his season has been marred with disappointment. A 4-0 defeat to Barcelona in El Clasico last weekend demonstrated just how outclassed Los Blancos are this year with their arch-rivals. 

Most notably, rumors continue to swirl over his future in the Spanish capital, a constant distraction for player and club.

As a result, it’s no longer an if, but a when for Neymar supplanting the talented Portuguese atop Nike’s soccer lineup. Now, it seems the when has been answered. Expect much more of this going forward:

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