Thursday 25 April 2019

Rio Ferdinand explains why Neymar is no longer the natural successor to Messi and Ronaldo

Neymar. Photo: Charles Platiau
Neymar. Photo: Charles Platiau
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Rio Ferdinand believes Kylian Mbappe has moved ahead of his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar in the battle to be the next superstar of world football.

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric halted the decade-long domination of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo when he was named as World Player of the Year for 2018, but Ferdinand believes France star Mbappe is the successor in waiting to the two giants of the modern game.

"We have been lucky to witness the brilliance of Messi and Ronaldo in the last few years, but their incredible careers will soon come to an end and Mbappe is the most likely player to fill the void they will leave behind at the top of the game," stated Ferdinand.

"It looked like Neymar would be the man when he was coming through at Barcelona and then made the world record move to PSG, but Mbappe is moving ahead of him in my view.

"He is on another level when you see the pace he has and has become virtually unstoppable when he is at his best.

"You could see the Manchester United defenders looking worried every time Mbappe got the ball at Old Trafford a couple of weeks back and that is what he can do to you... put fear into the opposition.

"If he continues to develop and prove he can do it season after season, winning big trophies and making the difference in the games that matter, he can be the man to take over from Messi and Ronaldo."

Ferdinand expects Mbappe to help PGS past United in next week’s Champions League last-16 clash, with the French champions 2-0 ahead from the first leg.

"When the draw for this game came out, everyone said United had no chance and the only reason a few people changed their mind was the impact Ole had at the club," he adds.

"Despite that, I always saw PSG as massive favourites for this game and nothing I saw in the first leg at Old Trafford surprised me. There was a team that has been built with massive investment and they are a few steps ahead of United at the moment.

"United used to tower above teams like PSG, but they have slipped in the last few years for a number of reasons and the new manager is playing catch-up now, which will take time."

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