Many fans and pundits think they already know the heir to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s throne.
Brazilian star Neymar has just completed his finest season for Barcelona, scoring 31 goals in all competitions and assisting 16, as Luis Enrique’s side won a La Liga and Copa del Rey double.
At 24, the former Santos winger is fully expected to continue his ascendancy to the top of the game next season.
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Barcelona’s hope is that when Messi moves on, Neymar will step into his shoes as the Catalan giant’s number one star.
But one man who has his doubts is the man Neymar has dreams of one day emulating.
Pele won the World Cup three times with Brazil, something the Barcelona winger would love to do.
Neymar was voted behind Messi and Ronaldo in January’s Ballon d’Or voting but as far as reaching their standards, Pele thinks the trickster must find another gear.
In an interview with Marca, the Brazil legend said: “I’ve known Neymar since he was little and many years ago his coaches told me he was very good.
“That is so but he doesn’t have the quality of Ronaldo or Messi.”
That much is obvious. Ronaldo and Messi scored 51 and 41 goals respectively this season. But for Pele to not even say that Neymar is on a path to following the aforementioned legends proves his concerns.
And, to be fair, he probably has a point. In the season after he celebrated his 24th birthday, Messi scored 73 goals in all competitions. At the same age, the Argentine was on a whole different level to his teammate.
All of this just proves how transcendent Messi and Ronaldo have been. It could be decades before football sees another pair who can come close to their talent.
Can Neymar reach the level of Messi and Ronaldo? Let us know in the comments section below!
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