Julio Cesar has hailed Neymar as the best player in the world, but still thinks Lionel Messi is better.
Neymar came third in this year’s FIFA Men’s Best Player award, behind runner-up Messi and winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain star has been tipped as a future Ballon d’Or winner after finishing behind the Barcelona and Real Madrid heroes in 2015 as well.
The 25-year-old is in fine form this season since his €222 million move from Barcelona with 11 goals from 12 games in all competitions, while Messi has 16 from 17 so far this term.
And former Brazil goalkeeper Cesar believes Neymar would be taking over as football’s No.1 this year if not for the Argentine superstar.
“For me, Neymar is the best player in the world today,” he said of his compatriot to ESPN. “Messi? I said the world; Messi is from another planet! But I think this is Neymar’s moment now.
“The whole world is following him and seeing how he does, even people who don’t follow football are interested in Neymar.
“They admire him, not only for what he does on the pitch but for how he carries himself off it. I’ve got a lot of respect for Neymar and I’ve had the pleasure of playing with him, of winning with him and, like a friend, I wish him all the best to win the Ballon d’Or.”
The 38-year-old goalkeeper took time to praise another fellow Brazilian and former Benfica team-mate Ederson. The 24-year-old shot stopper has impressed for Manchester City since moving in the summer and Cesar expects him to become one of the best.
“He’s a goalkeeper who is improving all the time,” he added. “He’s ready to play in the World Cup and he’s got all the ingredients to be the best goalkeeper in the world. He’s already a complete goalkeeper who is really strong coming off his line. People enjoy watching him.
“I like Jan Oblak at Atletico Madrid; he’s been excellent working with a team which does not concede many goals.
“Ederson, who I’ve mentioned, is formidable. And I have to mention [Gianluigi] Buffon, who is still playing at the highest level at his age, playing in two Champions League finals in three seasons. He’s older than me! And finally I must mention Manuel Neuer, another one of the best who takes my attention.”