Neymar can still become best in the world, says Baptista

Neymar Brazil 2018
Getty Images
The Paris Saint-Germain attacker endured a difficult World Cup campaign, but his compatriot still believes in him

Former Brazil international Julio Baptista is confident Neymar can still become the best player in the world, irrespective of his underwhelming performances at the World Cup.

The Paris Saint-Germain attacker recovered just in time from a foot injury to participate in the finals, but failed to live up to the high expectations in Russia

Although Neymar scored twice in five appearances, he could not prevent Brazil from crashing out in the quarter-finals as Belgium beat them 2-1 in Kazan.

Additionally, the 26-year-old was heavily criticised for his behaviour throughout the tournament, with the forward being accused of playacting on more than one occasion.

Neymar's disappointing World Cup campaign came after an eventful season at PSG, with the Brazilian impressing in Ligue 1 following his move from Barcelona, yet missing out on Champions League glory as injury prevented him from lining up in the tie with Real Madrid.

The former Santos man thus does not seem to be among the favourites to win the Ballon d'Or in 2018, but Baptista believes he could still get there in the future.

"Everything in life has a beginning, a middle and an end," Baptista told Goal at a La Liga event in Moscow.

"For him there was the beginning in Barcelona, where he had won many titles. He was part of one of the best teams in the world, he learned how to play in Europe and other important things.

"But he believed that it was time for him to take the next step and to be able to fulfil his personal goal, which is to try to be the best in the world. Maybe in Barcelona he believed that he could not be the best player in the world and I think he made the decision to leave because of that.

"He is not yet the best, he has work to do. But if he keeps working hard, he can get there."

Neymar has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid following the Champions League holders' decision to sell Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus earlier in July, even if they have formally denied that the Brazilian is a transfer target for them.