Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar has named Premier League duo Kevin De Bruyne and Thiago among the handful of players more technical than him in football.
Neymar is widely regarded as one of the most technically complete footballers in the world having shone wherever he has played, be it at Santos, Barcelona or PSG. The Brazilian is a joy to watch and has finished in the Ballon d’Or top three twice, finishing third in 2015 and 2016.
Since moving to PSG, eyes on Neymar’s game have dropped slightly compared to when he formed one of the most frightening trios in footballing history alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez at Barcelona, but he remains a top player when fit.
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Neymar has shown that once again while on Brazilian duty at Copa America, being one of their key players en route to the semi-finals. The 29-year-old has scored two goals and provided two assists at the tournament so far, as well as dictating the play with everything flowing through him.
Understandably, Neymar has belief in his own abilities but when tasked with naming five players more technical than him, the Brazilian came up with a few surprising names alongside the obvious choice.
“More technical than me?! Well, more than me…” he said when posed the question by Oh My Goal.
“I don’t know if I can answer that, with all the humility in the world I consider myself one of the most technical players in football today.
“But I would say Messi. A player that I’d like to play again with today, clearly it’s Messi because he’s number one, the greatest of all. Every club, every player loves him. Everyone wants to play with him.
“I would say Messi, [Eden] Hazard, [Kevin] De Bruyne and [Marco] Verratti. I’m missing one right? More technical than me… Thiago.”
Thiago’s first season at Liverpool
Perhaps the most surprising name on the list of five was Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara, as the Spaniard hadn’t had the best debut season in England after joining from Bayern Munich last summer.
Thiago had been a key part of the Bayern side that won the treble in 2019/20, but was allowed to leave on a free transfer just weeks after securing the Champions League, with his contract running out. Liverpool was the destination and fans were excited by the prospect of Thiago joining their midfield trio, though the Spaniard only made a handful of appearances in the first half of the season due to injury.
The appearances he did make saw Thiago criticised for not being a creative midfielder, low on chances created and without an assist, not to mention he was picking up yellow cards like birthday ones but that was never his strength. Instead, Thiago works as the silent metronome at the heart of a midfield, starting the moves rather than playing the killer passes (though he is capable of making them).
As the season went on, Thiago grew accustomed to his Liverpool side and ended the campaign on a high individually, making the No.6 role his own. Thiago made 98.77 touches per 90 minutes in the Premier League, completed 74.64 passes and still created 1.45 chances. There’s a reason Neymar rates him.