Neymar Jr is in the form of his life and recently made the podium in the Ballon d’Or for the first time. Still just 24, he could not be happier with his current situation at Barcelona, but if there is one coach he’d like to play for in the future it’s the inspirational Pep Guardiola,who left Barcelona in 2012 and was just taking over at Bayern Munich when Neymar arrived in Spain, in 2013.
Neymar also revealed in our interview that there are two countries in particular where he’d like to play before his career is over. He also spoke about what it’s like to play alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez in the most exciting forward line in the world, while looking ahead to Brazil’s Olympic year in 2016 and the next World Cup in Russia in 2018.
You recently made the podium in the FIFA Ballon d’Or. Is winning that something you feel you can achieve?
It was already a dream just to be there in the Ballon d'Or with Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who are two players that I respect a lot. If it happens some day I’ll be very happy, very proud… but I’m working to make my team win. I don’t work to be the best player in the world, I work to see my team win every single competition.
In that team you play alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez. Is it the best forward line you've played with?
I think so. I believe that this attack with Messi and Suárez is the best I’ve played in. They are two superstars and we get along very well on and off the pitch. So everything comes together to make it work. Even though we have a very strong rivalry on the national teams – Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay – we get along really well. I’m really proud to be part of this trident and proud that we are making soccer history. We don’t want to stop now, we want to keep writing history.
Is there any particular coach you’d like to work with in the future?
Yes there is one: Guardiola is a guy that I really admire and who I would love to work with.
Are you interested in playing in other countries?
It’s tough to say if I wanna play in other countries… nobody knows [about] tomorrow, but I’m very happy where I am right now, at Barcelona. I want to go back to Brazil some day and I also would like to play in the United States – those two countries are where I want to play later on my career. The US is a place where the game is growing and attracting the interest of lots of players, who are becoming more and more popular there, so this makes me curious, it makes me interested to see it closely.
Looking ahead to your future with Brazil, do you think you can win the World Cup in 2018 in Russia?
I think so, I believe that Brazil can win the World Cup of 2018. Because it is Brazil, you know… Every competition Brazil takes part in, they will be among the favourites and we will be among the favourites [in 2018]. But it’s easy to just say that Brazil can win. We have to work harder, train harder and get prepared way better than we got prepared for the last World Cup to have the chance to win.
And do you think Rio will host a strong and successful Olympics in 2016?
I believe that everything will work well in the organisation of the Olympic Games. I believe a lot in my country. They said that in the World Cup it wasn’t gonna work, but everything worked out well. I believe it will work well in the Olympics also and I expect to be able to represent my country really well and bring the expected gold medal that we never won in soccer.
You have your own signature football tournament in 2016 in Neymar Jr’s Five. What does that competition mean to you?
To me, it’s an honour. I’m very proud of having such a big competition with my name. I’m flattered and I’ve always dreamed of this. Every child always dreams of this, I used to create tournaments with my name on video games. So it’s like a dream coming true.