BARCELONA. – Neymar has admitted that he is still learning on a daily basis from training alongside Lionel Messi and said that the selfless qualities of his team-mate have literally left him “speechless”.
Messi and Neymar combined brilliantly to defeat Bayern Munich 3-0 in their Champions League semi-final first leg on Wednesday night but the Brazilian appeared even more taken aback by a gesture in Barcelona’s 8-0 rout of Cordoba in their previous match.
Having already scored twice in the match, Messi turned down the chance for his hat-trick and instead allowed Neymar to take a penalty.
“It was a little thing I think but was very welcome,” Neymar said. “He is a guy who is the best in the world, was about to score a hat-trick and let me kick a penalty.
“It left me speechless, I am really grateful to him for his gesture. I am learning every day from him. It is great what he is doing for football history.
“I love Messi, I admire him more every day,” said Neymar, who revealed that Messi now stood with Robinho as his football hero.
Neymar said he would also welcome Barcelona making an attempt to sign Paul Pogba from Juventus.
Pogba is valued at around £50 million and is of serious interest to just about all the leading clubs in the world although a major complication for Barcelona is that they are operating under a transfer ban until 2016.
“He is a great player,” said Neymar. “We would open the gates for him. He is still a young player, younger than me I think. A player of such quality I think is always welcome.”
Neymar also revealed that he hopes to represent Brazil in the Rio Olympic Games next summer, a tournament that would give him some opportunity to make up for the disappointment of how he was forced out of the World Cup with a fracture in his back.
It was during the World Cup, however, that Neymar says he “fell in love with” poker to the extent that he now plays every day and has even named his pet dog after the card game.
He has also become an ambassador for PokerStars. “You need to know when to risk – it’s similar to football in that way,” he said. – The Independent.