Brazilian star Neymar should remain at FC Barcelona and he will take over from Lionel Messi as the best player in the world, says Laureus World Sports Academy Member and football legend Cafu.
In an interview with Laureus.com, Cafu said: “I hope that he can continue at Barcelona. Barcelona is a team that supports him, it’s a team that provides him with structure to help him continue to shine.”
Neymar was beaten by Messi for the Ballon d’Or and has not been nominated for this year’s Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, unlike Messi, but Cafu believes it is only a matter of time before he becomes the world’s best.
“Neymar’s moment will happen, it didn’t happen this time, but the next time, for sure, Neymar will increase his advantage over the others. Each player becomes the best in the world in their own time. He is very important for world football today, the way football should be played, content and happy. He could become one of the world’s best football idols,” said Cafu.
Cafu, the only player to appear in four consecutive World Cups and three straight World Cup Finals, also believes that if Neymar plays in the Olympic Games, Brazil could win a medal. “He is the most important player in the Brazilian team. I think he should play. If he does, we will be able to win an Olympic medal. We have never won an Olympic Games and for that reason it will be important for us. Independent of whether we won or lost the 2014 World Cup, the Olympics will be important for us to create more credibility.”
But Cafu does not believe it will take away the pain of the infamous 7-1 defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup semi-final. “That will stay for the rest of our lives, whenever anyone talks about Brazil they always mention the World Cup and being beaten by Germany. There is no way of escaping that,” said Cafu.
Messi is nominated for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award along with Usain Bolt, Stephen Curry, Novak Djokovic, Lewis Hamilton and Jordan Spieth. The winner will be revealed in Berlin on April 18.
Messi’s club FC Barcelona are also nominated for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award and Cafu feels they will be strong contenders. “Barcelona are playing really well, playing fantastic football, playing elegant football, they deserve to win.”
Cafu is a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy, an elite group of more than 50 sporting legends, who support the work of Laureus Sport for Good in helping to improve the lives of millions of young people, through the use of sport in underprivileged areas.
Cafu said: “It’s fantastic to be part of the Laureus Academy. I feel honoured. The first Laureus Patron Nelson Mandela said ‘Sport has the power to change the world?’ These are my words too; this thing called sport, or football. Sport in general really does change the world and people.”