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‘Neymar has it in him to rival Messi & Ronaldo’ – Madrid & Barca talk no surprise to former Santos president

14:07 EAT 19/08/2019
Cristiano Ronaldo Neymar Lionel Messi composite
Marcelo Teixeira once blocked the Brazilian forward from joining Real, but concedes that he now belongs at one of the grandest teams in world football

Neymar has the potential to rival Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, says former Santos president Marcelo Teixeira, with it no surprise to find him at the centre of a transfer tussle involving Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The Brazil international is currently on the books of Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain, having completed a record-breaking €222 million (£200m/$262m) switch to France in the summer of 2017.

Prior to that, he had spent four years at Camp Nou and generated talk of interest from the Santiago Bernabeu.

Moves to either Catalunya or Madrid are being mooted again in the current transfer window, with Barca eager to bring him back onto their books while Clasico rivals explore the option to landing the talented 27-year-old.

Teixeira acknowledges that a grand stage is required for one of the best players on the planet, telling AS: “Neymar is one of the best players in the world.

“If you look at his individual quality, I think he's got it in him to rival even Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. I'm confident we'll see that happen.

“He's well advised by his representatives, so far be it for me to tell him what to do.

“[But] my advice to him would be to play football and demonstrate the unique abilities that he possesses, which are the product of hard work and dedication, of course, but most of all God-given talent.”

Quizzed further on where he sees Neymar ending up, Teixeira added: “Any team in world football that Neymar decides to join will be getting a top professional who will make the difference out on the pitch.

“We'll see whether or not he ends up at Madrid; as I say, he's a player who'd make a difference to any side.”

Real were keen to do a deal for Neymar back in 2006 when a then 14-year-old caught their eye during a trial.

Santos blocked a move at that stage, with Teixeira saying of the role he played in that saga: “He was blown away by the 'Galacticos', but in time we were able to get hold of his father and make him an offer that earned him a million dollars. He quickly accepted.

“My whole board of directors told me I was out of my mind, but we all knew Neymar was something special.

“Keeping him was essential to Santos, and to what the side went on to achieve with him at the centre of it.

“It was a difficult decision that I had to make on my own, but it was what had to be done at that moment in time.”

Teixeira insists no transfer talks were ever held with Real back then, but that situation may change 13 years on, with Neymar at the centre of another battle between Barca and Madrid.