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Getting to Know: Barcelona Goalkeeper Neto

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Looking into Neto’s footballing career

RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Full name: Norberto Murara Neto
Squad No: 13
Position: Goalkeeper
Date of birth: 19 July 1989
Place of birth: Araxá, Brazil
Height: 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)
Weight: 84 kg (185 lbs)

Club career

Neto was born in in the town of Araxá and came through the youth ranks of Cruzeiro, before switching clubs and moving to Curitiba where he joined Atletico Paranaense in 2007. He made his professional debut on 16 August 2009 in a clean sheet victory. While he only made one more appearance that season, he started the next one as the first choice goalkeeper. He quickly showcased his talent and caught the eye of scouts from Europe. After just 36 games and thirteen clean sheets in the Brazilian Seria A, Neto agreed to a €3.5 million transfer to Fiorentina.

The goalkeeper’s beginnings in Europe were rough, making only a handful of appearances in his first three seasons with the Florence-based club, playing second fiddle to the likes of Artur Boruc and Emiliano Viviano. But that changed in the 2013-14 season, when he missed only three league games – the last three, as Fiorentina again earned a spot in Europe. Another strong campaign later, Neto’s contract ended after four and a half years, 101 games played and 34 clean sheets.

With the departure of Marco Storari, Juventus were looking for a goalkeeper to backup Gianluigi Buffon and quickly snapped up Neto on a free transfer. Backing up Buffon, Neto was never going to see a ton of action, but he made his debut quite early in the season, in a one-all draw against Frosinone on 23 September 2015. Neto’s stay in Turin wasn’t long, only two seasons as the Brazilian wanted more playing time - understandable considering he only suited up 22 times for The Old Lady.

He found the playing time he was looking for in Spain. Neto joined Valencia on a €7 million transfer and spent the next two seasons as the first choice keeper. The Brazilian was a hit in his first season in Spain, leading Valencia to one of the best defensive records in the league and a Champions League spot. The next season was even more impressive for Neto and Valencia. Neto allowed even fewer goals in La Liga, and was a key player in Los Che reaching the semi-final of the UEFA Europa League. Over an impressive two year span, Neto made 80 appearances and kept his net untouched in 24.

In the offseason, Barcelona wanted to make a change in the back-up spot, facilitating what could be considered a swap deal, though officially the deal was worth €26 million plus add-ons. Back in a similar situation to the one he was in with Juventus, Neto had to remain patient for his debut. It came on 19 December 2019 in the Champions League as Barcelona beat Inter. The Brazilian has only made three more appearances since then for the Catalan giants.

International career

Despite a solid career in professional football, Neto’s international career never really kicked off. While he did make a pair of appearances for Brazil’s U23 team in the 2012 Olympic Games in which Brazil finished in second place, years went by and call-ups came and went, but Neto went uncapped for the senior side. He finally made his debut on 12 September 2018, beating El Salvador in a friendly – eight years after his first call up and after watching Brazil play 24 times from the bench, and that is still his only appearance for the Seleção.

Profile

Neto has a typical goalkeeper frame, which combined with excellent reflexes and quickness off the line makes him very difficult to beat. Statistically a very good shot-stopper, but despite his talents he struggles at stopping penalties, saving only four of 36. His height helps him in the air game, where provides sure hands, but when the ball is at his feet, he’s not near the levels set by the likes of Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Victor Valdes.

Honors

Juventus

· Serie A (2): 2015-16, 2016-17

· Coppa Italia (2): 2015-16, 2016-17

· Supercoppa Italiana (1): 2015

Valencia

· Copa del Rey (1) 2018-19

Contract Status

Being a recent signing, Neto still has plenty of time left on his contract. His deal runs out after the 2022-23 season and includes a €200 million buyout clause.