January 29, 2018 / 11:28 AM / 22 days ago

PSG's Neymar left Barcelona to step out of Messi's shadow, says Alves

(Reuters) - Paris St Germain forward Neymar left Barcelona in order to escape the shadow of Lionel Messi and increase Brazil’s chances of winning this year’s World Cup, according to club and country team mate Dani Alves.

Neymar became the world’s most expensive footballer in August when he completed a 222 million-euro ($276 million) transfer from Barcelona to PSG.

The 25-year-old finished third behind Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2017 Ballon d‘Or.

“I think he’s (Neymar) up there with (Lionel) Messi as the most influential player in world football. The thing is, he had to come out of his shadow a little,” Alves told FIFA’s website.

”Playing with someone as unique as Leo is the most incredible thing that can happen to you, but there’s always that doubt in your mind if it’s you that really has the quality or if it’s him.

Soccer Football - Ligue 1 - Paris St Germain vs Montpellier - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - January 27, 2018 Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar kisses the ball before taking the penalty REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

“It was important for Ney’s own development and for Brazil for him to follow his own path.”

PSG have opened an 11-point gap at the top of Ligue 1, with Neymar contributing 17 goals and 11 assists.

However, Alves believes Neymar’s main objective this season is to deliver PSG’s first Champions League title.

“It’s our main goal. It’s what Neymar was thinking when he left Barca and it’s what I was thinking when I left Juventus. That’s what moves us,” he added.

“We’re ready to compete and the question of whether that preparation leads us to victory or elimination is going to depend on how we work as a team.”

PSG resume their European campaign on Feb. 14 in the first leg of a mouth-watering last-16 tie against holders Real Madrid.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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