Rio de Janeiro, Feb 24 (IANS) Neymar has surpassed Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as the world’s best player, according to Brazilian football great Pele.
Pele believes the 26-year-old is ready to take that form into this year’s World Cup, to be played in Russia from June 14 to July 15.
“Neymar has changed the way he plays with the national team,” Pele, the only player to have won three World Cups, told FIFA’s website, Xinhua reported.
Brazil’s Paris Saint-Germain forward has scored 28 goals in 29 matches since leaving Barcelona for a world record transfer fee of 222 million euros ($263 million) in August last year.
“He has had to. At his club side, he normally plays as a left-sided attacker, whereas for Brazil, he plays more centrally, as a more traditional number 10.
“He’ s ready to lead this team, yes. He might find that the tactical switch from his club to the national team isn’t straightforward, but Neymar is Brazil’s key player. He has to prepare himself for that. And I would go further: for me, technically, he is already the best player in the world. I’m absolutely sure of that,” Pele said.
Neymar is already fourth on the list of Brazil’s all-time leading scorers with 53 goals in 83 matches since his international debut in 2010.
Above him is Pele, with 77 goals, Ronaldo (62) and Romario (55).
Pele said Neymar, Ronaldo and Messi stood apart as the best players in the game today.
“If you look around the world, the ones who stand out are Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. There are no other superstars,” the 77-year-old added.