Barcelona full-back Adriano has told Spain's Cadena Ser radio station that he believes his countryman Neymar to be a better player than Gareth Bale, as attention continues to fall on La Liga's two big summer signings.
Per ESPNFC's Dermot Corrigan, Adriano spoke of his belief that Neymar's achievements in football—playing a starring role in Confederations Cup and Copa Libertadores-winning sides—make him a better player than the Wales international.
Scolari on Mourinho calling Neymar a diver—"He has already found his excuse for when Chelsea have to face Barcelona in the Champions League"— Nik Postinger (@nikpostinger) October 11, 2013
He was, though, forced to defend his 21-year-old colleague against growing recent criticism of his exaggerated responses to tackles:
Neymar is ahead of Bale, for what he has done in football, for what he is in Brazil, and for what he is doing at Barca.
[Neymar] is not an actor, he does not dive—people are looking for it because they know it from Brazil. There have been fouls where he has gone down, but also fouls and penalties that should have been given but were not.
Comparing two players is always a difficult task as certain footballers will be better suited to different styles of play—hence some transfers can fail despite the signing being an excellent player.
In the case of Neymar and Bale, despite both occupying a left-sided attacking role for much of their respective careers, there is a huge variation in playing style that somewhat mirrors the differences between the philosophies of their clubs.
Neymar is constantly moving, using clever footwork to beat his man and seeking to open up space with sharp interchanges of possession.
Bale, while equally direct, is more inclined to trust his speed and power to beat a man than attempting any clever footwork. Both approaches require talent, it is simply utilised in a different way.
With regards to their achievements, Adriano is right. Although, the counter-argument would be that it is only now that Bale has been in a side capable of challenging for major honours.
Adriano: "I play behind Neymar on the field, and I watch all his dribbles and when he does the bicycles with his leg. He’s amazing to see.”— Neymar Júnior (@Team11Neymar) October 11, 2013
Both players have proven to be unique talents in their own different ways and both have won numerous matches for their sides over recent years that, perhaps, the team's performance has not merited.
It is for that reason, of course, that the duo have commanded such inflated transfer fees.
Who is the better player?
In terms of pure talent and skill, Neymar is a level above most players in world football—including Bale. He also has won major trophies at this early stage in his career that the Welshman has not.
For those reasons, Adriano is fully justified in his assessment. For all of Neymar's brilliance, though, it should not be forgotten that the Real Madrid man is also a special talent and could easily swing titles in his side's favour over coming seasons.
The reality is, every club in the world would love to have either player at their disposal this season and, most likely, for much of the decade ahead.