New Atletico Mineiro signing Ronaldinho has admitted that he is honoured to have been named as a key influence in the development of Lionel Messi and Neymar, and named the Barcelona and Santos stars as the two best players in the world.
The former Barca, Milan and Gremio playmaker joined the Galo in May after cutting short his time with Brasileirao rivals Flamengo in acrimonious circumstances. The 32-year-old has made an instant impact in Belo Horizonte, causing great excitement amongst fans as Atletico currently find themselves fifth in the Serie A standings.
Questioned on Friday about the two South American talents, both of whom have previously cited Ronaldinho as an example as they learned the game, he confessed that it was hard to choose between the pair when it came to picking the best player on the planet.
"I see Neymar as having everything, he is already one of the best in the world for me. I am encouraging him a lot to next be the best in the world. But of course on the other hand I have my friend Messi, who is destroying everyone. For me the two, right now, are the most talented in the world," he explained to Globoesporte.
"It is great to see two world-class stars, the kids who are the men of the hour, say that when they were starting out they mirrored themselves on me. That does wonders for the ego and it motivates me to keep doing my best in the years I have left."
Atletico and Ronaldinho are back in action on Saturday, when they face Serie A newcomers Nautico.