Connect in the back of the net

Despite the pretty-boy postulations of Cristiano Ronaldo, there’s basically no arguing the fact that Leo Messi has been the best player in the world for the past decade or so.

The playmaker and goalscorer has netted over 350 goals in less than 400 games for Barcelona, and has finished in the top three of the Ballon d’Or (awarded by FIFA to the season’s best player) every year since 2007.

Despite this, a growing number of managers, ex-players, soccer pundits and fans are claiming that the crown of ‘best player in the world’ has been passed on, and not to Portugal and Real Madrid’s wing wizard Ronaldo, but to PSG’s record-breaking signing Neymar (and you can read more about Neymar’s knee-trembling record transfer and its FFP repercussions via this study by AskFans).

 

Support from football legends

In April this year, former Barcelona and Brazilian striker Romario was one of the first to make the controversial claim that Neymar was more crucial to his then club (also Barcelona) than Messi.

“Nowadays, Neymar is (Brazil’s) biggest star. He’s the best player in the world right now, with all due respect to Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, which, particularly, I believe has been much inferior to the other two,” said Romario. “For what he’s been doing both for Barca and (Brazil), it’s about time Neymar is elected the number one in the planet.”

Romario is not alone in his opinion. Milan legend Alessandro Costacurta also feels that it’s about time Neymar was recognised as the best player in the world.

“I believe in this moment Neymar is better than Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi, he’s the best player in the world now, in 2017.” Costacurta said earlier this year. “If we take a look at his performances and we compare them with those of Messi and Ronaldo, I think Neymar is just better at the moment.”

Also taking a seat on the ‘Neymar is better than Messi’ bus is former Argentina coach Carlos Dibos.

Dibos was comparing Messi to former Argentina superstar star Diego Maradona when he said “(The) player has to feel that the (Argentina) shirt represents a huge number of Argentines and that we all want the best. Diego represented that and, for me, Leo does not. It doesn’t mean that he is bad. For me, he’s among the three best players in the world, but he’s not the best. Today, Neymar is better.”

 

The final word

At the age of twenty-five to Messi’s thirty, Neymar certainly has time on his side if he is to eclipse all that Messi has achieved.

The Brazilian certainly so far does not have the phenomenal scoring record that Messi has, but it’s worth noting that on the international stage, Neymar’s goalscoring ratio is much higher than his former Barcelona teammate’s.

Final word on the matter though perhaps should go to Pele, regarded by many as the greatest player ever to play the beautiful game.

“Now everyone is talking about Messi; he is a star. But (to be the best ever) he must first become better than Neymar,” said Pele in 2012. “At the moment Messi is just more experienced.”

 

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