Rio de Janeiro: FC Barcelona full-back Dani Alves believes his teammate Neymar has surpassed Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and trails only his clubmate Lionel Messi in the world’s best footballer rankings.
In an interview with Brazilian newspaper O Globo on Sunday, Alves criticised Portugal captain Ronaldo for a perceived unwillingness to defend and said Neymar is a better dribbler, reports Xinhua.
“Neymar is more difficult to defend against. He has evolved a lot here (at Barcelona). He doesn’t stop the flow of the game as much. He is quicker. He can dribble and he has magic,” Alves said.
“That is the difference between the two of them. Cristiano scores a lot of goals, shoots well and is a good header of the ball. But he doesn’t dribble much. They have different qualities, but Neymar’s qualities are superior,” the Brazilian international added.
“I also think that Cristiano has stopped tracking back. Full-backs these days attack a lot more. Brazilians revolutionised that part of the game.”
Neymar will vie with Ronaldo and Argentine Messi for the Ballon d’Or, awarded to the best footballer in the world, at a FIFA gala next month.
Alves stopped short of predicting Neymar would win the award this year, but is adamant the 23-year-old will do so one day.
“Neymar can go as far as he wants in football,” Alves said. “There are some players who are touched with a magic wand. Neymar is one of the those. If he wants to win the Ballon d’Or, he will win it, if he wants to be Brazil’s highest scorer, he will achieve it. He enjoys playing and is improving with every season. He’ll be like a good wine.”
Alves backed Barcelona manager Luis Enrique to win FIFA’s coach of the year award, ahead of Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola.
“Luis Enrique has won all of the most important titles this year. He deserves to win,” the former Sevilla player said, adding that Guardiola was “without doubt” the best coach he has played under.
“He is a great manager and someone who is able to see beyond what most others can,” Alves concluded.