Brazil great and two-time FIFA World Player of the Year Ronaldinho told Gulf News in March that Neymar is ‘already at the same level as Ronaldo and Messi and we truly hope that one day he can get the Ballon d’Or and continue his success’.
Just like Neymar, Ronaldinho plied his trade at Barcelona and like his fellow Brazilian, won two league titles and the Champions League.
However, there is one thing missing for Neymar which has been awarded to previous Brazil greats such as Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaka, and that is the Ballon d’Or.
Neymar will be seen as having failed to fulfil his potential if he does not win the award at some stage in his career.
Has Neymar’s move to Paris St-Germain edged him a step closer to breaking Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s domination of being awarded the Ballon d’Or, which stretches back to 2008?
In 1997, the original Ronaldo was a Barcelona player and regarded as the best player on the planet.
He had just finished a 47 goal season. He was an absolutely sensational player and should have continued to become a Barcelona legend.
However, Inter Milan turned his head with a then world-record £19.5m and Ronaldo moved to the Serie A after one season. The bright lights and the considerable paycheck lured the young Barcelona king away.
Due to the crazy current transfer window, to put it into perspective, Neymar’s move is over ten times the fee of Ronaldo’s.
However, Ronaldo’s move in 1997 was even bigger news than Neymar’s because the Brazil forward has been viewed as the natural heir to the throne of Messi, whereas Ronaldo was already established as the king in his first season at the Nou Camp.
Although largely due to injuries, Ronaldo’s move to Inter Milan did not prove to be a success and he moved to Real Madrid in 2002, after which he was not quite the same player as previously at Barcelona.
Neymar’s going to be different
However, the situation with the 25-year-old at PSG won’t necessarily turn out the same as his predecessor at Inter.
The Brazilian has the opportunity to create his own legacy at the French club. PSG does not boast the same prestige as other clubs where all-time greats have truly made their biggest impressions, such as Diego Maradona at Napoli and Messi at Barcelona, but nevertheless, if PSG is the right club for Neymar, then his legacy can be created and he can be transformed from a great player to a legend.
Brazilian wonderkids used to go to France or Holland to learn the European game before making a big move to Real Madrid or Barcelona, such as in the case of Ronaldo, who was signed as a 19-year-old by Barcelona from PSV Eindhoven.
However, Neymar can further create his own legacy in the sense that he has already played for Barcelona and shown the world what he can do, and has now moved to Paris to propel his career to new heights.
The forward is an exciting footballer to watch who demonstrates extraordinary skill at times and has all the potential to be amongst the Brazil greats.
Needed to separate himself from Messi
Neymar is 25 years of age and in his prime years as a footballer.
In order for him to be considered a great and land the Ballon d’Or, the best move for the Brazilian would be to move away from Messi’s shadow at Barcelona, where he had to create space for the 30-year-old by staying close to the touchline, and be the talisman that his ability deserves elsewhere.
The Brazilian cannot be deemed to be the best player in the world if he is not considered to be the best player in his team.
In March, Barcelona achieved one of the most extraordinary comebacks in Champions League history as they scored three goals in the final seven minutes to beat Neymar’s soon-to-be team PSG in the last 16.
Neymar was the main catalyst on that night of this remarkable comeback, scoring the first two of them late goals and assisting the winner with a brilliant chipped pass to Sergi Roberto.
This was the best performance of Neymar’s career, however it was Messi who was receiving all the plaudits for the victory. The Brazilian cannot receive the merit he deserves under such circumstances.
By taking the French club to their first ever Champions League title and winning the Ballon d’Or in the process, the Brazil international can become a legend and etch his name in history alongside past Brazil greats.
Written by Sina Latif
Follow Sina on Twitter @_sina93
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