Edgar Davids has hailed the focus shown by Neymar in improving his craft since his move to Barcelona but says he is still not on the level of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Neymar – who joined Barca in June 2013 – is in the running to win the FIFA Ballon d’Or but is up against stiff competition in club colleague Messi and Real Madrid star Ronaldo for the honour.
In the last seven years Messi has won the award four times while Ronaldo has received the gong on three occasions and could win it for the third consecutive year when the recipient is announced on January 11.
Brazil captain Neymar scored 39 goals in all competitions last season and already has 16 to his name in this campaign, his efforts in adjusting to European football and then thriving drawing praise from Davids.
The Dutchman, who spent a loan spell at Barcelona in 2004, told FIFA.com: “Neymar is from Brazil so you have to come from a different country, you have to adapt to a different system, different players.
“He was a talent, still, talent alone is not enough – a lot of big players have talent – but really maximising that talent, working every day, mentally working [on] that talent every day, that is hard.
“It’s not easy and you see he’s maintained that and he’s stayed focused and now you see he is up there [but] he’s still not on that level of those two [Messi and Ronaldo].
Neymar helped Barcelona to win the Club World Cup by beating River Plate in Yokohama, Japan, on Sunday.
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