'Messi and Neymar have been the stars of the World Cup' - Barcelona president Bartomeu

The head of the Catalan club points to the influence of the Argentina captain in leading his side to the final, as well as the Brazil No.10 prior to his back injury
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu believes that Blaugrana pair Lionel Messi and Neymar have been "the two big stars" of the World Cup.

Messi has captained Argentina all the way to Sunday's tournament decider in Rio de Janeiro, while Neymar played a key role in Brazil's progression to the last four only to see his tournament ended by a fractured vertebra sustained in the quarter-final win over Colombia.

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Both players have been nominated for the Golden Ball for their fine form and Bartomeu is in no doubt that they have been head and shoulders above their eight other rivals for the prestigious prize.

"Whatever happens in the final, Messi and Neymar have been the two big stars of this World Cup," the Blaugrana supremo told the Catalan club's official website.

"Until the injury, [Neymar] was having an incredible tournament. Despite his youth, his progress as a footballer and his leadership made a mark on the Brazil team.

"We have been close to him since the injury, the medical services have been in contact with him and his family. It was a nasty shock for all football fans, especially those of Brazil and Barca.

"I hope he gets fit again soon and I wish him all the best. He is very young and will have plenty more chances to win things for his country."

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Bartomeu, though, is now praying that the tournament ends on a high from a Barcelona perspective.

"I hope that Leo Messi and [Argentina and Barca team-mate] Javier Mascherano win the World Cup," he declared. "They deserve this in recognition of their careers. They are two born winners, I hope they enjoy the final and have plenty of good luck.

"I am very happy that he [Messi] is about to play in the final, he wanted it so much and he has played a direct role in all of his team's victories and has scored some lovely goals.

"Leo has once again shown why he's the best player in the world."