The Brazil legend is backing a fellow countryman to use Russia 2018 as a springboard on which to fire himself above Barcelona and Real Madrid icons
Neymar has a “huge chance” to win FIFA’s The Best award following Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit from World Cup 2018, says Brazil legend Ronaldo.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward has long been considered the natural heir to two modern day icons when it comes to the most prestigious individual prizes in football.
Messi and Ronaldo have landed 10 Ballons d’Or between them over the last decade, with the latter claiming back-to-back The Best gongs in 2016 and 2017.
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Both enjoyed stellar club campaigns for Barcelona and Real Madrid last season, but the respective failures of Argentina and Portugal at Russia 2018 mean the door has been left ajar for Neymar to stake his claim to being the finest player on the planet.
With Brazil chasing down a sixth global crown this summer, Ronaldo told FIFA.com on an illustrious countryman: “I think the scenario of Messi and Cristiano dominating The Best can change this year with the World Cup.
“The power of the World Cup is really strong and with Messi and Ronaldo eliminated, Neymar has a huge change to win The Best.
“But this will happen if he wins the World Cup playing in a collective way like he is doing, without thinking specifically about The Best.”
Neymar has helped Brazil to the quarter-final stage of World Cup 2018, where they will meet Belgium.
The 26-year-old remains the man the Selecao look to for inspiration on the field, with Tite proving to be just as important off it.
The highly-rated coach has transformed Brazil’s fortunes since inheriting the managerial reins in June 2016, with it possible that he could complete a memorable double for Brazil at The Best ceremony in London on September 24.
Ronaldo added on Tite’s claims to The Best coach title: “I played for Tite, in my very last season as a footballer [at Corinthians].
“I’m very thankful for that final year with him, and it’s a pity we didn’t work together for longer.
“A good performance here with Brazil will give him the ticket to The Best awards.
“For me, he’s already one of the best coaches in the world.”
Brazil take on Belgium at the Kazan Arena on Friday, with a last four spot being targeted by two sides who sat among the favourites before a ball was kicked on Russia.