Former Argentina international Javier Zanetti believes Neymar is nearing the same level as serial Ballon d’Or winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Brazil international was the star of the show for his nation in their home World Cup four years ago, only for his involvement to be cut short following an injury suffered in the quarter-final victory over Colombia.
Neymar subsequently missed the semi-final against Germany, where his team suffered a humbling 7-1 defeat against eventual winners Germany, but will hope to lead his side to glory this year.
Already capped 85 times, Neymar caught the headlines last year with a record transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain as he continued his quest to become the world’s best.
While Messi and Ronaldo are still viewed as the top two, Zanetti feels the PSG forward – who has recovered from a foot injury in time to feature in Russia – is not far behind.
“Neymar is very strong, has great quality and is very close to Messi and Ronaldo,” he told Mediaset.
“I believe that this World Cup can be that of his consecration.”
Brazil begin their campaign against Switzerland on Sunday, before completing their Group E fixtures against Costa Rica and Serbia.