Neymar: Vini Jr. deserves Ballon d’Or after UCL

Neymar has said he believes his Brazil teammate Vinícius Júnior will win the Ballon d’Or award after his impressive season at Real Madrid.

Vinícius, 23, was named as the 2023-24 Champions League Player of the Season on Monday after scoring six goals in this season’s competition, including Madrid’s second in the 2-0 win against Borussia Dortmund in Saturday’s final at Wembley.

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Vinícius, who will lead ‘s the Selecao’s attack at the upcoming Copa América, also registered 13 goals as Madrid won LaLiga.

“As for Vini, obviously I think the Ballon d’Or is his today,” Neymar said.

“I sent [him] messages before and after the [Champions League final] game. He’s a boy I love with passion, a great friend that football gave me. He will certainly be crowned with the Ballon d’Or.

“He’s incredible. Carrying our country’s flag around the world and we’re really rooting for him.”

The last Brazilian to win the Ballon d’Or was AC Milan great Kaka in 2007.

Neymar, 32, who is Brazil’s all-time leading scorer, has often been a contender for the prestigious individual award but never won.

The closest he came was a third-place finish in 2015 behind winner Lionel Messi and runner-up Cristiano Ronaldo.

Neymar is still recovering from a serious knee injury he suffered while on international duty in October and is looking forward to making a full recovery to play for Saudi champions Al Hilal next season.

Asked about reports that he is considering a return to Brazilian club Santos next year, Neymar said: “No. What they said is a total lie. There’s nothing planned. I have one more year on my contract with Al Hilal. I hope I can have a great season. I missed out on that last one. Let’s live little by little. There’s a lot of time ahead. Obviously Santos is my favorite team, one day I want to return, yes, but I don’t have anything planned in my head.”

Neymar signed a two-year contract with Al Hilal last summer after six years at Paris Saint-Germain.

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