Cristiano Ronaldo Tips Neymar to Become World's Best Player at Barcelona

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMay 7, 2014

Real's Cristiano Ronaldo waves to his supporters at the end of the the Champions League quarterfinal second leg soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid in the Signal Iduna stadium in Dortmund, Germany, Tuesday, April 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Martin Meissner/Associated Press

Putting all El Clasico rivalries aside, Cristiano Ronaldo has added to the expectations already placed upon Neymar's shoulders by noting that he can one day become the best in the world.

The comments come from one who knows the feeling of global pressure, too, as the two-time Ballon d'Or winner told SporTV (h/t ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan) his feelings on the Brazilian and how he's adapted to life in Spain:

I see Neymar as a great player. I believe he has shown in recent times he is a player of the future, with huge potential to improve. His adaptation at Barcelona was not the best --he had some problems at the start -- but I have no doubt that he has the potential to be one of the best players, or even the best player, in the world.

Neymar's maiden campaign at the Camp Nou has been examined with a microscopic scrutiny that few others have to undergo at such a young age, but such is the size of his star at just 22.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 05:  Neymar of FC Barcelona winks at his teammates during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Betis Balompie at Camp Nou on April 5, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Injuries and the small matter of jumping across continents since his €57.1 million move from Santos last summer have led to mixed reviews in the forward's first season playing in Europe. It's perhaps unsurprising that his performances haven't yet reached the same heights they did while playing in Brazil's Serie A.

Bleacher Report's Graham Ruthven compares Neymar's progress in Catalan country to that of Gareth Bale at the Bernabeu, both soon to complete their first seasons in La Liga:

However, Ronaldo backs his South American rival to follow in the footsteps of past Selecao stars and perhaps one day haul in Ballon d'Or honours of his own.

Squawka figures show that in 25 La Liga appearances this season, Neymar has scored nine goals and grabbed eight assists from the 41 scoring chances that he's created for La Blaugrana.

Vying with the likes of Pedro and Alexis Sanchez for playing time more than he has with Lionel Messi, the youngster has, for the most part, found himself pushed out wide under Gerardo Martino.

In Santos, Neymar would have become accustomed to playing as the centrepiece in any attack. With that being said, Luiz Felipe Scolari has also opted for alternative strikers in the Brazilian squad, fielding his young forward on the left wing.

South American football writer Rupert Fryer makes note of just how prominently Neymar has featured internationally under Scolari:

Should he overcome it, it's a test that can benefit Neymar in the long run and may ultimately lend itself in broadening his skill set, leading to a more expansive version of what was already an extremely promising asset.

Ronaldo would appear to be one in particular who believes in the starlet to go on and accomplish great things, with this summer's World Cup on Brazilian soil being his next opportunity to dazzle a worldwide audience.