Neymar’s father said his son is playing for Spanish champions Barcelona because of five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.
Since moving to Camp Nou in 2013, Neymar has struck a lethal combination with Messi, helping Barca to two LaLiga titles and Champions League glory in 2014-15 among other trophies.
And Messi – regarded as arguably the greatest player to play the game – continues to inspire Neymar, according to the 24-year-old Brazil international’s father.
“We all know who Messi is and what he means. He is the idol of my son and for him is a pleasure being at his side,” he told Cope.
“He is always happy for playing together and he is playing here for Messi.
“If Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo never existed probably Neymar never existed too; the same with Pele and Maradona, both inspired a lot of players.”
He added: “Messi deserves the Ballon d’Or.”
Neymar, who signed a new contract last week which will tie him to the club until 2021, has also been nominated for the Ballon d’Or.
Cristiano Ronaldo is favourite to win the award after Real Madrid’s Champions League victory and Portugal’s Euro 2016 triumph.