Dani Alves backs Neymar to rival Messi for Ballon d'Or

The 30-year-old expects the Blaugrana's latest recruit to push the Argentine close in the race for the individual prize next season
Barcelona defender Dani Alves believes the club's new signing Neymar will challenge team-mate Lionel Messi for the Ballon d'Or.

The former Santos star sealed his 57 million switch to the Blaugrana on Monday and Alves thinks the 21-year-old will soon be a leading contender for the game's greatest individual prize.

"To be the best, first one must have humility, and I know that Neymar does have that," he told reporters.

"I'm sure in the future it will be very difficult to choose between Neymar and Messi for the Ballon d'Or.

"He knows how much work needs to be done before he can win as many awards as Leo has done."

The youngster has been criticised for producing sub-par performances at international level recently, but Alves has leapt to the defence of his club and international team-mate by urging the media to consider Neymar's age before launching attacks on his displays.

"I think today it is unfair to put all the responsibility on Neymar, who is just 21 years of age," he added. "This pressure should be distributed to everyone."

Brazil continue their preparations ahead of their Confederations Cup campaign - which begins on June 15 - by hosting France on Sunday.