Neymar raves about Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi
He evaluates the trophy hopes of Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain
He reveals his favourite sportsmen, TV shows and food
The kid with cosmic artistry was making headlines as a 13-year-old.
Real Madrid seduced him to Spain and laid on the VIP treatment; he got to meet David Beckham, Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane and watched matches in Florentino Perez’s executive box during a three-week stay. Santos unleashed a counter-punch KO by offering a $470,000 signing-on fee – a mind-blowing figure for someone in his early teens – and a fat salary for him to join their youth system.
Pele, Romario and Robinho all predicted Neymar would become one of the world’s top players and, for around a decade, he has been. But as he turns 28 today, is the Mogi das Cruzes native in the form of his life?
His figures since December’s start suggest so: 20 combined goals and assists in 11 appearances – ten of which were victories, the other a draw – while one could make a 90-minute highlight reel of his indecipherable tricks.
FIFA.com caught up with Neymar to discuss Paris Saint-Germain’s UEFA Champions League chances, Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and, of course, Brazil as their bid to land at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ approaches lift-off.
Neymar: It was really difficult to be out of the Copa America because of everything I went through. I did my recuperation in Brazil and seized the opportunity to follow my team-mates. I put being a player aside and became a supporter like millions of other Brazilians. It was incredible and reminded me of my childhood days when I went to the stadium with my dad.
We are very strong. The squad is more experienced, even though we have some youngsters. We have players who have been at two World Cups, like me for example. We’ve won, we’ve lost, we’ve had many positive and negative experiences, and we can help the youngsters with our experience. Moreover, the coaching staff, unlike in previous years, has remained the same. This continuity will facilitate our work and enhance our chances [at Qatar 2022]. I’m very optimistic about the Seleção’s future.
Every one of them is very talented. And you can expect that, by 2022, others will have emerged. Brazil has an impressive ability to unearth talents.
France, Belgium, England and Argentina.
Playing alongside Leo was a unique experience and we became friends. Of those I’ve seen play, Messi is the best in history!
I’ve always said that winning The Best award isn’t an obsession, but I train hard every day to be better than the day before. I always try to evolve individually and collectively. If one day I win the award it will be the result of my work.
Kylian is a phenomenon. He has the potential to become one of the best players in history. To have him as a team-mate is a huge honour. We understand one another very well on the pitch and off it too. I love him!
I wouldn’t say the strongest, but I feel a different atmosphere and more confident, and this helps a lot day by day.
My son likes sport and likes to play football with his friends. But he’s different to me – he’s not as passionate about football. He really likes Messi, Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo. In fact, his attack when he plays video games is Messi, CR7, Mbappe and me.
Ronaldinho, Robinho and Messi.
[Gabriel] Medina, Steph Curry and Lebron James.
I love to watch series. I like several, but I have a special love of Money Heist.
To eat? Rice, [black] beans, beef and fries. As a chef I’m really bad… my guests would eat a nice fried egg!