It has been an argument put forward by Brazilian supporters for years, yet Cafu has reiterated his belief that Neymar is technically better than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and only needs to assume the responsibility of being a leader to match them.
Neymar left Barcelona for PSG in search of becoming the main figure at a club, yet he has since found Kylian Mbappe taking his spotlight and Messi himself following him to the Parc des Princes.
Having never been able to yet fulfil the potential that many saw would take him to the Ballon d’Or, Neymar remains one of the modern era’s true greats.
“Neymar is technically better than Messi, better than Cristiano Ronaldo, but he must assume the responsibility of a leader,” Cafu explained at the MARCA Sports Weekend event in Seville.
“One must dedicate themselves 100 per cent to football, I’m not better than Neymar, but I am better than other right-backs because I dedicated myself to that. He [Neymar] has to become a captain.”
A month ago, Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar Jr. had a clip surfaced where he stated that the 2022 FIFA World Cup could be his last. The Brazil international will be 34-years-old in 2026, so this statement came as a surprise to many.
Nonetheless, Neymar did cite the mental grind that it takes to play for club and country, hinting that perhaps he might not want to go through another cycle.
Should this be the end of the 29-year-old, former Brazilian defender Cafu worries for the national team’s future?
Cafu states during the interview with Record that Brazil has great players like Vinícius Junior and Rodrygo, but they are not the calibre of Neymar. Furthermore, the former defender adds that no young player is coming out of Brazil with the expectations to be the next Neymar of his generation.
“I don’t know the truth. Unfortunately, Brazil is very devoid of idols today, and not only Brazil, I think world football has a lack of idols. We have great players like Vinícius and Rodrygo that I have mentioned but there is no post-Neymar idol in Brazil yet,” Cafu said.
“In the event that it occurs, it would be his decision, and it should be respected. If after the World Cup in Qatar they think they should retire, Brazil would lose a crack. It would be a shame because he is very young and a reference in world football. I think he still has a lot of wood to burn.”
Cafu’s own career saw him represent both Roma and AC Milan at the highest level, as well as winning a World Cup with his national team, yet he has admitted that he could have formed a dynamic full-back partnership with Roberto Carlos at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
“I had the opportunity to play for Real Madrid in 1992 when Sao Paulo played for its first world title,” Cafu added.
“They came after me, they talked to me and the club, but Sao Paulo didn’t release me because they wanted me to play in the Intercontinental Cup.”
“There was a pre-agreement between Real Madrid and Sao Paulo for Vitor to go to Madrid and then return and for me to go to Madrid, but Sao Paulo had the Copa Libertadores and the World Championship, they wouldn’t let me leave anymore.”
Courtesy: MARCA and Record