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Villas-Boas: “Neymar could have succeeded Ronaldo & Messi”

FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2015
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Marseille manager Andre Villas-Boas believes that Neymar has struggled to replicate his Barcelona displays since joining Paris Saint-Germain.

Upon completing a world-record €222m transfer in 2017, Neymar has scored 51 goals in 58 games for PSG. Five trophies have also come his way in two Ligue 1 titles, a Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue, and the Trophee des Champions.

But two serious foot injuries have dogged the Brazilian’s two-year stay in the French capital. It’s heavily restricted his game-time, with recent rumours suggesting he wants out this summer.

And now Marseille coach Villas-Boas has claimed Neymar’s quality has diminished in his time at PSG. In fact, the Portuguese claims it’s hampered his prospects of succeeding five-time Ballon d’Or winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

“He is an important player in the world of football,” said Villas-Boas, according to Fox Sports.

“For me, it was the player who could succeed Ronaldo and Messi for the Ballon d’Or. But he did not recover all the qualities he had shown in Barcelona.”

With the Spanish transfer window still open until September 2, Neymar could still seal a return to Barcelona or a switch to La Liga rivals Real Madrid.

While the Brazilian favours a Camp Nou comeback, Real remain in strong contention. It comes in light of Barcelona’s alleged inability to match PSG’s demands of €222m.

Sporting director Leonardo then dropped a big hint on Neymar’s future by revealing that talks are “more advanced than before” last week.

The club’s supporters have since turned against the 27-year-old, who continues to remain silent. Another potential hint is reports claiming PSG have removed his merchandise from the club store.

But Villas-Boas fears that it won’t just PSG who suffer should a player like Neymar decide to leave France.

He added: “This type of player has an important image in football, a bit like when Ronaldinho was here in Paris.

“There’s this attractiveness. The football world wants to watch these kinds of players. I don’t know what’s going to happen, I can’t comment on the separation because I’m not the PSG coach.

“For Ligue 1, it’s not good if he leaves. But we have other good players and clubs like OM, with an international reputation, who will always make Ligue 1 attractive.”

SHENZHEN, CHINA – AUGUST 02: Neymar Jr of Paris Saint-Germain.