‘Without Messi, there’d be no Neymar at Barceloana’

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Since joining in 2013, the Brazilian has struck a lethal combo with the Argentina international, helping Barca to two La Liga titles and Champions League glory.

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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 La Liga 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.

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“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.

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Cristiano Ronaldo is favourite to win the award after Real Madrid’s Champions League victory and Portugal’s Euro 2016 triumph.

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