Neymar is second best player in world behind Lionel Messi and ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, claims ex-Barca president – The Sun

NEYMAR is better than Cristiano Ronaldo, according to former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell.

He also reckons the Brazilian superstar is second only to Lionel Messi among the very best footballers in the world.

And the ex-Nou Camp chief is adamant if he was still in charge of the club, he would make Neymar the No1 transfer priority.

Rosell told COPE and Radio Marca: "If I were the president of Barca, I would try to sign Neymar.

"He is the second-best player in the world after Messi and fits perfectly into the philosophy of the club.

"But with experience, he would sign him with two contracts, one sports and the other behavioural."

Neymar, 28, spent four years with Messi at Barcelona before his world-record £198million transfer to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017.

During that time the LaLiga giants, the pair – along with Luis Suarez – formed one of the deadliest attacking trios as they were crowned European and world champions in 2015.

And the Catalan club want to try and work a deal to bring the former Santos forward back to the Nou Camp.

But Ronaldo will no doubt have something to say about being snubbed by Rosell – after all his name is always mentioned in the 'Greatest of all Time' debate.

He turned 35 in February but smashed in 36 goals for club and country before the season was halted – 12 more than Messi and double that of Neymar.

Neymar may boast a stunning goalscoring record by the time he turned 21 with his 140 goals in 227 games bettered only by his compatriot Ronaldo.

By comparison, Messi managed 51 in 140 and Cristiano got 36 in 182 with both behind the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Michael Owen and Karim Benzema.

But the Portuguese hero has won five Ballons d'Or – only Messi has more with six but Neymar is yet to break into the top two, finishing third in both 2015 and 2017.

And the goalscoring stats weigh heavily against the Samba star.

Across Europe's top-five leagues – therefore excluding Neymar's time at Santos and Ronaldo's at Sporting Lisbon – Messi has 438 goals, Ronaldo is ONE behind on 437 but Neymar is adrift on 115.

He also has the worst minutes-per-goal ratio at 127 to the Juventus ace's 101 and his former team-mate's simply staggering 87.

Internationally, though, the Selecao sensation has 61 goals in 101 caps as he chases down Pele's record haul of 22 – Messi has 70 in 138 while Ronaldo is just one short of three figures with 99 in 164.

Neymar can only manage half the number of assists as Ronaldo and around a third of Messi's tally of 174.

It means he is directly involved in a goal every 81 minutes compared to Ronaldo's 78 and Messi's 62.

One stat that does go in Neymar's favour, however, is his win ratio.

The Brazilian has won 78.3 per cent of his 175 matches in Europe's top leagues, marginally pipping both Messi (74.7 per cent) and Ronaldo (71.9 per cent).

In terms of major team silverware, Neymar – the youngest of the three – has 12 across his spells at Barca and PSG, including five league titles.

The most recent of those was this season's Ligue 1, awarded when the campaign was terminated early due to the coronavirus crisis.

However, Messi has 23 trophies at Barcelona while Ronaldo has 20 spread across England, Spain and now Italy.

Internationally, Ronaldo boasts the best record with his Euro 2016 and 2019 Nations League triumphs topping Messi's 2008 Olympic gold medal and the 2013 Confederations Cup Neymar won with Brazil.

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