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It has been 10 years since any footballer apart from Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo or Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has won the prestigious Ballon d’Or Award. The last player, to win the award, apart from either of the two, was AC Milan’s Kaka back in 2007. But former Barcelona great Xavi believes that after Ronaldo and Messi slow down, Neymar will be the one who will go on to win the award.
“I have tremendous respect for Neymar, he’s an amazing footballer. When Messi or Ronaldo will be in a bad shape, and we’ll see more at Cristiano because of his age [33], Neymar will be the next Ballon d’Or winner. I’m sure of that,” the 33-year old said in an interview to RMC on Wednesday.
The midfielder, who made 505 appearances for Barcelona’s senior side since 1998, before moving on to Qatar club Al Sadd in 2015, played with Neymar during his time at the club. Speaking on his former Barca man, Xavi said, “I have the chance to know him personally and he is an exceptional person. I respect the player but also the person, he is a natural leader in the locker room and on the pitch. He is someone who always wants the ball, ready to do the show and do things well.”
Neymar, who made 123 appearances for Barcelona between 2013 and 2017, moved to Ligue 1 club PSG in 2017, becoming the most expensive signing. He was bought by the club for €222, equal to the release clause of his contract. The Brazilian attacker has scored 27 goals in 26 appearances for the club in all competitions so far.