Neymar can define an era, says Alves as Brazil star is nominated for Ballon d’Or
Striker named on shortlist for first time alongside perennial candidates Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
Barcelona forward Neymar can be as good as he wants to be and will follow Lionel Messi in defining an era in soccer, his Barca and Brazil team mate Dani Alves predicted.
Neymar has reached new heights at Barca this season, his third with the Spanish and European champions, and was named on Monday along with Messi and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo on the three-player shortlist for the 2015 Fifa Ballon d'Or award.
Neymar, 23, is the top scorer in La Liga this term with 12 goals in 11 appearances, with two more in five Champions League outings, and was particularly impressive during Messi's recent two-month absence with a knee injury.
The pair form a formidable attacking trident with South American compatriot Luis Suarez and they set a Spanish record of 122 goals in all competitions in 2014-15 as Barca romped to a treble of Champions League, La Liga and King's Cup titles.
“Ney has the limit he wants,” Alves, 32, who refers to Neymar as his “younger brother”, said.
“If he doesn't want a limit then he won't have one because his characteristics and his qualities are favourable for this,” added the fullback.
“In the end he's one of those players, like Leo, like Luis, who are singled out as unique, who will mark a decade, or an era, in football, like other big names.
“For this reason, what he wants to achieve he will achieve. And if it's with us, so much the better, because if he's in our team that's a sign that we will achieve things and compete a lot and we will have the opportunity to achieve things.”
Alves was speaking as part of a Barca media day looking ahead to the Club World Cup in Japan starting in two weeks.
Barca won the competition, which features the six continental champions, under former coach Pep Guardiola in 2009 and 2011 having lost out to Brazilian side Internacional in 2006 in their first appearance.
“I think we're doing things well,” Alves said. “It's been a perfect year and we welcome the chance to add to the history of this club and make it even greater.”