The former Santos defensive midfielder feels that the difference between the pair is that even when his compatriot has an off day, he still manages to influence the gameEXCLUSIVE
By Andre Baibich
Brazil legend Clodoaldo has declared Neymar the best player in the world, arguing that even when he is not at his best, the Santos forward still contributes greatly to his team's cause - unlike Barcelona rival Lionel Messi.
The latter is widely regarded as the greatest talent in the game today, having broken all sorts of records with the Blaugrana and picked up the Ballon d'Or for the past three years.
However, Clodoaldo believes his Neymar to be superior as he believes that his compatriot never has a bad game.
"I'm an admirer of his," the World Cup winner told Goal.com. "I think he is now the best player in world football.
"I say that while acknowledging that, Messi, for example, is fantastic, but when he plays badly, he plays very badly.
"But Neymar, when he plays badly he still manages to be a seven [out of 10]. He can have a reasonable influence on the game even when he is performing at his minimum level, which is a very positive side of Neymar."
Clodoaldo also weighed in on the ongoing debate over whether the 20-year-old attacker needs to move overseas at some stage in his career in order to fully realise his potential, claiming that Neymar may come to accept that if he is to be be universally accepted as better than Mess, he will have to prove himself in Europe.
"I think that the future will bring a need for Neymar moving to Europe," the former Santos midfielder mused.
"I believe he will be here for another good while yet, but I am sure that the need and the curiosity to play against the great teams of Italy, Germany, England and Spain will appeal to him and awaken his curiosity to know how he would fare in these leagues.
"In Santos, he could end up participating in tournaments against Real Madrid, against Chelsea and so on. But if this does not happen in the coming years, I think we'll see him moving to another continent.
"I'm not saying it will happen now. But maybe after the World Cup [in 2014]. He may feel the need to leave not because he will take the crown of Pele, but because he will want to take the crown of Messi."
Neymar's current deal with Santos runs until 2014 and it has been claimed that he will link up with Messi's Barcelona at that point.