Neymar has revealed the witty advice Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi gave him after he finished behind the Argentinian and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo at the 2015 Ballon d'Or gala in Zurich, Switzerland, on Monday—to "play better."
Per AS, the Brazilian shared the quip when asked if Messi had given him any pointers on winning the prestigious award in the future. He said, "Yeah—play better."
As Bleacher Report UK revealed, the 23-year-old finished second runner-up with surprisingly few votes given how excellent his year was:
Bleacher Report UK @br_uk
#BallondOr results breakdown: #Messi - 41.33% #Cristiano - 27.76% #Neymar - 7.86% https://t.co/1USr5Zls3R1/11/2016, 8:23:47 PM
After playing almost as big of a role as Messi in Barca's phenomenal success in 2015—the Catalan giants won five out of a possible six trophies, including their historic treble last season—the forward admitted he had hoped to finish ahead of Ronaldo.
"Yes, I hoped to be second," he said, "but I have to work harder to be among the three again."
Nevertheless, Neymar congratulated Messi on his success, saying: "As far as I am concerned, Leo is from another planet, so congratulations to him. ... For me Messi is the best in the world. He's my idol, and I hope we can enjoy watching him for years to come."
Further, he expressed his delight at being at the awards: "It's been a fantastic day, I'm very happy. ... It's been one of the best days of my life. I enjoyed watching from the front row as Leo won [and] spending the day by the side of two of the best players there are. I hope I can be at the ceremony again."
Lastly, Neymar admitted he does harbour a desire to claim the Golden Ball in the future and shrugged off any pressure that comes with the expectation that one day he will indeed do so.
"It could be a challenge, but there are other objectives as well like winning trophies," he said. "A bit more pressure isn't a problem."
Indeed, Neymar has been heavily tipped to win the Ballon d'Or in the future, with Spanish football expert Sergi Dominguez, BBC Sport and Sky Sports' Nick Wright all doing so in the wake of Messi's win:
Sergi Domínguez @FutbolSergi
Messi will probably win a couple more of these. Expect #Reymar to be the first to win it after that.1/11/2016, 6:58:22 PM
BBC Sport @BBCSport
Neymar next year? ⚽ #BallondOr https://t.co/CZVPFvaAaR1/11/2016, 7:32:36 PM
Sky Football ⚽️ @SkyFootball
Why Neymar can end Messi and Ronaldo's dominance of the #BallondOr in years to come https://t.co/DRZmbNQ02Z https://t.co/GZ3A3TrEfH1/11/2016, 8:09:12 PM
After continuing to develop magnificently with Barca, the Brazil international had his best year yet in 2015, and with many years still ahead of him, it's almost inconceivable he won't win at least one Ballon d'Or provided his form does not drop off.
Messi is only 28, though, so Neymar will face stiff competition from him at the very least for several more years.
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