Neymar could be next Messi, says Lampard

Rio de Janeiro, June 2 (IANS) England midfielder Frank Lampard said that new Barcelona signing Neymar has the potential to be as good as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Speaking Saturday, on the eve of England’s friendly against Brazil in the official reopening of the Maracana Stadium, Lampard praised the 21-year-old striker, reports Xinhua.

“I played against Neymar at Wembley in February and I’ve also seen some videos of him on Youtube. He does some spectacular things,” said Lampard, who is England’s captain in the absence of the injured Steven Gerrard.

“I have spoken about him with David Luiz, Oscar and also Ramires. For me he is a young superstar and he has what it takes to do well for Barcelona. I hope he is successful. Football needs big players like Messi and Ronaldo and I think Neymar could also be one of those players at the top.”

Lampard was among a group of England players that visited Rio’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue Saturday. He admitted the city had a charm like no other he had visited and said the trip had whetted his appetite to return for next year’s World Cup.

“Being here is a nice. There is a certain magic in Brazil and particularly in Rio. We know there’s work to be done to qualify and it is up to us to do that. I’m confident. There are lads that are going to make a name for themselves and possibly will be peaking at the perfect time,” the 34-year-old said.

Lampard added he was looking forward to playing at the Maracana Stadium, whose reopening comes after almost three years of reconstruction work and cost overruns.

“The Maracana is world renowned. I grew up hearing stories about it and it’s an honour to play there. It’s a new stadium now but the name remains the same. In England we have Wembley which is a great stadium and the Maracana is in that category.”

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