FC Barcelona star Neymar insists that he will be happy to just make the Ballon d’Or shortlist, stating that it would be his honour to share the podium with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Brazil international is a major contender for the 2016 award after scoring 43 goals in 50 appearance in all competition for the Catalan giants and playing a key role as the club completed an impressive treble triumph.
The 23-year-old scored in every single Champions League game FC Barcelona played from the quarter-finals onwards, joint top scoring in the tournament with Ronaldo and Messi with 10 strikes.
Happy to be just on the shortlist
However, downplaying his chances of becoming the first man since Kaka in 2007 to win the Ballon d’Or besides Messi or Ronaldo, Neymar said to TV Globo:
“Just being one of the three finalists would be a great achievement for me.”
“It would be a dream to find myself up there next to Messi and Cristiano. It would be a great honour.”
No rivalry, only admiration
Allaying any fears of individual rivalry hampering their team, Neymar said that he was grateful to be playing alonside his ‘idol’ Lionel Messi
“They said that we would fight and that he would not pass me the ball. But he welcomed me in an incredible way and, still today, who gives me more assistance in my career?”
“For me, Leo is both a friend and an idol.”
The numbers validate Neymar’s claim, with Leo Messi assisting 13 goals that Neymar scored which is more than any other player by a considerable margin given that Suarez assisted 8 off Neymar’s goal in a distant second.
Neymar on the contrary, assisted only 4 goals for Lionel Messi, but, off the three, Neymar was the player with least assists despite Suarez missing a good chunk of the season due to a ban.
Despite having endured a lot of criticism for the Copa America final, it is hard to argue that Messi is the clear favorite of the contenders to win the award given that he fared better than, both, Luis Suarez and Neymar for FC Barcelona as well as in Copa America with the duo missing most of the action due to suspension and also the treble victory puts him in lead over Cristiano Ronaldo.